Novato en las grandes ligas
In my endless quest to find Venezuelan big-leaguers to report on, I did a summary a few weeks ago which determined that 21 out of MLB’s 30 teams had real live Venezolanos on their active 25-man rosters. Until yesterday, the Chicago White Sox weren’t on that list.
Welcome to Major League Baseball, Yolmer Carlos Sanchez of Maracay! Whilst scanning the box scores today, instead of the familiar Alexei Ramirez at shortstop—the red-hot Cubano who will be playing in his first All Star Game on Tuesday—there was a “Sanchez, C.” listed.
My lightning-quick research indicated that Carlos is indeed Venezuelan and has been in the White Sox system since 2009, playing over 400 games in the Little Show (may we call it that?). He just turned 22, and Saturday was his debut—starting at the same Chicago shortstop position which has featured Venezuelan legends and All-Stars Chico Carrasquel, Luis Aparicio, Ozzie Guillen and Omar Vizquel. No pressure, kid.
Carlos was Rookie of the Year for the Tiburones of La Guaira this winter, but with the current log-jam in the Chisox infield at second and short, it may be a few years before he breaks through. I love the fact, though, that he has put the extra time in, both in the Dominican Summer league as a 17 and 18-year-old, and now in winter ball back home. The team has high hopes for him.
His first game was not Gehrig-esque in production: he went 0-for-5 in a well-pitched game for both sides, as the White Sox dropped a 3-2 decision to Cleveland. And—debutante’s nerves—he made an error at shortstop, playing opposite the Indians Venezuela veteran Asdrubal Cabrera.
Likely, Alexei Ramirez’ “balky back” will be better after a few days’ rest, and young Carlos will go back to the Charlotte Knights for a bit of southern seasoning. He joins erstwhile reliever Henry Rodriguez of Zulia there, he of the uncontrollable three-digit fastball, as well as countryman Miguel Gonzalez, a catcher and left-handed hurler Mauricio Robles of Valencia.
Who knows what will become of young Mr. Sanchez? Will he be a one-game wonder or a Venezuelan star of the future? One thing for sure—he can now tell his grandchildren that he played in a Major League ball game, the childhood dream of many.