Baseball runs in White Sox pick May's family
When Coastal Carolina outfielder Jacob May was 12, his father, former Minor Leaguer Lee May Jr., asked him if he wanted to learn how to switch-hit like his dad. May wanted to follow in his father and grandfather's footsteps to play professional baseball, and he of course said yes. So every night, May Jr. would take his son, a natural righty, outside and have him swing 500 times left-handed.
"At first I thought he was crazy, but then strangely enough, I actually started to feel more and more comfortable each day," May said. "I wouldn't change that for the world."
May Jr. wanted to give his son every opportunity to succeed in his baseball career, and on Friday all that hard work paid off. The Chicago White Sox selected May in the third round with the 91st overall pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
"Man, I'm just ecstatic. I'm here with my family, mom and dad and everyone in the living room," May said minutes after his selection. "I was just speechless when my name went across that board and they called my name. I couldn't do anything but break down in tears and thank the Lord and my family for everything they've done for me."
May Jr. played 12 seasons in the Minors, never making it to the big leagues. His father, Lee May Sr., totaled 2,031 hits and 324 home runs over his 18-year career in the Major Leagues.
There's little doubt May's Major League lineage, as well as his top-of-the-order and center field skills, surely caught Chicago's attention. White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann grew up in Cincinnati when May Sr. played for the Big Red Machine, and he also attended the same high school as May Jr. Laumann even coached May Jr. in basketball when the former Mets first-round pick was a senior in high school.
"The pedigree always helps but ultimately the kid was a very talented, great runner, great athlete, switch hitter, all the things we like to see in those kind of athletes," Laumann said.
May has some bat speed, but has to do a better job of making consistent hard contact. With improved jumps and routes, he'll be an above-average defender, though he can outrun mistakes now.
While May's game still has some developing, he produced impressive numbers as a junior at Coastal Carolina. He hit seven home runs, held a .321 batting average, knocked in 31 runs and swiped 16 bases. May said he'd like to build on his stolen-base numbers at the next level, because he views his speed as his greatest asset.
"I think there's more to tap there," May said. "I'll just keep working, keep tapping into that speed and using it to my advantage."
May's speed and switch-hitting skills project him closer to his father than his grandfather, who was considered a power hitter in his time. But May said he's learned from both of his familial mentors while developing into his own kind of player facing elite competition at Coastal Carolina.
"I've faced [Rockies third-overall pick in the Draft] Jonathan Gray, there's that right there," May said. "I'm more of my dad but my own person as well. I take in everything they say to me and learn from them."
In the pipeline: The White Sox selected shortstop Tim Anderson out of East Central Community College in Mississippi with their No. 1 pick on Thursday. The multi-talented Anderson immediately becomes one of the top prospects in Chicago's depleted farm system that features mostly outfield farmhands at the top of the organization. Alexei Ramirez is currently in the second season of a four-year $32.5 million contract to be the White Sox Major League shortstop of the near future, but Anderson's athleticism might allow him to move around the diamond. The only middle-infield prospect in Anderson's way is Carlos Sanchez, who is a versatile player that can also play several positions.
After Anderson, the White Sox added Durant High School right-hander Tyler Danish from Plant City, Fla. Chicago had a desperate need for young arms in the farm system. While Danish is still a project, the 18-year-old dominated in 17 outings -- 15 starts -- this season. The right-hander, who boasts a funky delivery reminiscent of White Sox hurler Jake Peavy, posted a 15-1 record, struck out 156, only walked 16 and didn't allow an earned run for 94 straight innings.
The White Sox went with another arm with their fourth selection, taking TCU right-hander Andrew Mitchell. They followed that pick with Texas right-hander Thaddius Lowry from Spring High School in the fifth round and Cal State-San Marcos senior starter James Dykstra. Chicago took its second position player of Day 2 in the seventh round, drafting high school shortstop Trey Michalczewski. His big frame and power bat profile for a likely shift over to third base at the next level.
The White Sox closed the day by taking three more arms to restock the farm system. They took their lone southpaw of the day in South Mountain Community College left-hander Chris Freudenberg, then closed with right-handed reliever Nick Blount from Southern Polytechnic State in Georgia and Ohio State starter Brad Goldberg.