For now, Escobar is a shortstop, but his path to a big-league job with the White Sox is obviously blocked by Alexei Ramirez. The White Sox could end up giving Escobar more playing time this spring at second base in an effort to push Beckham and have more infield options.
When talking about White Sox players in the Venezuelan winter league and the dangers they face, general manager Kenny Williams was more than complimentary of Escobar, who is playing in his native country.
“He lives there, he is a tough kid, and he can navigate his way through,” Williams said. “He’s a tough kid from a tough family.”
(For the record, Williams said that if any White Sox players are worried for their safety in Venezuela in the wake of the kidnapping and ultimate rescue of Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, they have been given the team’s blessing to return home.)
Escobar has played some second base and saw a little bit of action there after he was recalled in September. Of the five games he played in the field during the season’s final month, two of those games were at second.
Last season was the first sign the White Sox were considering Escobar as an option at second base. He played 30 games there at Triple-A Charlotte. He had never played more than 12 games at second in any of his previous five minor league seasons.
The White Sox aren’t trying to put negative pressure on Beckham to perform, but they need options moving forward and Escobar is one of the few middle infield possibilities they have.
Beckham batted just .230 last season, the lowest mark of his three big-league seasons. He had a .296 on-base percentage and a .337 slugging percentage, also career lows. To Beckham’s credit he made massive strides defensively at second base.