CHICAGO -- Chris Getz edged out Jayson Nix, Brent Lillibridge and Gordon Beckham during a 2009 Spring Training competition to become the White Sox starting second baseman.
So, Chicago's vice president/player development holds some valuable advice where Cactus League roster battles are concerned.
“Focus on what your strengths are and what you are capable of doing, and the competition is with yourself, not anyone else,” Getz told MLB.com. “If you start focusing on the successes or failures of another player in Spring Training for your own well-being, then you are going to ride a rollercoaster.
“It’s just not a healthy head space to be in. You go out there and have quality at-bats, making your plays defensively, making smart decisions, baserunning and really taking on a leadership role. Being a positive influence in the clubhouse. All of those aspects matter. They really do and they are important in being part of a successful championship-type team.”
Oscar Colas, the No. 2 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline, will try to earn a starting role in right field by Opening Day, but the primary 2023 position competition falls between Romy Gonzalez and Lenyn Sosa at second base. Veteran Leury Garcia will also be in the mix for playing time, but general manager Rick Hahn already has made clear that Garcia’s value is playing all over the field.
Gonzalez, 26, was Chicago's 18th-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. He finished with a slash line of .238/.257/.352 over 109 plate appearances and 32 games in ’22 after his season at Triple-A Charlotte was shortened by tonsillitis that led to his tonsils being removed.
“He’s got real power. He’s got zone awareness,” Getz said. “I know that we’ve talked about it, and Romy has spoken about improving his contact within the zone.
“When he does make contact, he can drive the baseball. He’s a very good athlete. He can run the bases. He can make plays defensively. It’s just a matter of consistency in all those different areas. If he improves on the consistency side of things, he has a chance to be an impactful Major League player and help us win.”
Sosa, 22, is Chicago's No. 4 prospect and figures to be a step behind Gonzalez entering Spring Training. He finished 4-for-35 with one double and one home run over 11 games with the White Sox in a 2022 season that was hampered by sporadic playing time and is no way indicative of Sosa’s potential.
Over 483 at-bats between Double-A Birmingham and Charlotte in 2022, Sosa slashed .315/.369/.511 with 23 homers, 22 doubles and 79 RBIs.
“You certainly can’t ignore what he accomplished last year at Double-A and Triple-A,” Getz said. “[As far as] the opportunities in the big leagues, I think he was certainly trying to do too much. What we saw up with the Major League club was not something that we were used to seeing in the past, which I think in the end bodes well for his future.
“Once he gets comfortable ... just getting a taste of that last year should put him in a position to get a head-start this year. Also being in Major League camp, being around the players and staff, will be a nice opportunity to help on the comfort front.”
Jose Rodriguez, the No. 7 White Sox prospect, is a player to watch in regard to big league second-base potential from within as the season progresses, and Hahn and his staff certainly could add another candidate via trade. But for Gonzalez and Sosa, Getz reiterates a focus on what they can do and not comparing themselves to others.
“There wasn’t a spring that I wasn’t competing for a position on a Major League club throughout my career, whether it be with the White Sox, Royals or Blue Jays,” Getz said. “So, I’m very familiar with the feeling. There were some springs that I cared more. I probably cared more than I needed to in regard to other players’ performances.”