Hot-Hitting Brooks Baldwin Embraces Versatility With White Sox


When the White Sox promoted 2023 first-rounder Jacob Gonzalez to Double-A Birmingham in late May, Barons manager Sergio Santos had the inevitable conversation with incumbent shortstop Brooks Baldwin.

But that is no knock on Baldwin, who led the Southern League in hitting at .362/.440/.493 through 40 games.

Rather, the 23-year-old Baldwin was asked to embrace his professional future by mixing in time at second base and third base.

“That is such a blessing to have because at shortstop, for you to go up, something needs to happen specifically to the shortstop,” Santos recalls telling Baldwin. “But when you play so many different positions and you play them well, now your chances of going up to the big leagues are a lot higher.”

The headline of that chat for Baldwin, a 12th-round pick out of UNC Wilmington in 2021, was that the White Sox see him as a near-term big leaguer.

The White Sox wanted to see how Baldwin would handle regular work at shortstop. He played mostly outfield while winning Colonial Athletic Association player of the year in 2021 and was drafted as a third baseman.

Now it’s just one of a litany of assignments they feel he can handle when called upon.

“Brooks is a really good example of the draft status isn’t the most important thing,” White Sox farm director Paul Janish said. “He’s the kind of guy who you need to see him play for four or five days to really understand and appreciate everything he’s doing.”

The switch-hitting Baldwin won’t hit for standout power, but more because of a line drive-oriented swing that Santos remarks is fairly similar from each side, rather than a lack of major league-caliber exit velocities.

Baldwin entered Memorial Day weekend with 34 stolen bases in 41 career attempts on the strength of his strong baserunning instincts rather than top-line speed.

Standout tools typically aren’t available on the third day of the draft, but the White Sox see Baldwin as proof that standout makeup can lift an otherwise average profile.

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