Lots of options for White Sox at pick No. 8
With extensive pool of talent to consider, team may prioritize college arms
CHICAGO -- The 2015 Draft will take place from Monday, June 8, through Wednesday, June 10, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday at 5 p.m. CT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 6 p.m., with the top 75 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at 12 p.m. on Wednesday.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,700 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the White Sox, whose first selection is the eighth overall pick.
In about 50 words
The 2014 Draft served as an important part of general manager Rick Hahn's reshaping program. With Carlos Rodon, Spencer Adams and Jace Fry taken at the top, the team added three potential impact hurlers. The White Sox can use this year's Draft to further solidify the core of the organization, even without second- and third-round picks.
Since they signed free-agent closer David Robertson and left fielder Melky Cabrera, the White Sox don't have a pick between No. 8 and No. 112, which lands in the fourth round. That said, they aren't worried about being able to add important pieces throughout the three days, thanks to the detailed research spearheaded by director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann and assistant scouting director Nick Hostetler.
"One of the things our guys have done real well over the last several years is finding value a little bit lower," Hahn said. "We would like to have as many picks as possible, but we made decisions this past offseason that picking up David and Melky served a more immediate and important need in our opinion than the second and third picks in this year's Draft."
As for the White Sox top pick at No. 8, look for them to target college pitchers. But they still have a pool of eight to 10 players that they are surveying, including position players.
The 2014 Draft had three fairly clear-cut choices at the top in Rodon, Tyler Kolek and Brady Aiken, with Aaron Nola close behind. That made for a pretty narrow focus for the White Sox at No. 3.
At No. 8 this year, the White Sox are looking at a much bigger group. That includes Aiken, who couldn't agree to terms with the Astros last year after being taken No. 1 overall, and then had Tommy John surgery in late March. One player of special interest is left-handed hurler Tyler Jay, who pitches for the University of Illinois and played prep ball at Lemont High School, located just 45 minutes from U.S. Cellular Field.
MLB.com columnist Jim Callis has Missouri State right-hander Jon Harris landing with the White Sox in his latest mock draft. With the seven picks above them far less certain than in past years, right-hander Carson Fulmer, right-hander Dillon Tate, shortstop Dansby Swanson, shortstop Alex Bregman, outfielder Daz Cameron and shortstop Brendan Rodgers are also in the mix.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
The White Sox have been assigned a pool of $5,347,500, ranking them 25th overall. That number is down from $9,509,700 in '14, which stood as a franchise high coming off a 99-loss campaign. The value assigned to Chicago's first-round pick is $3,470,600; the value is $508,000 at 112th, the team's next pick in the fourth round. In '14, the White Sox had their first 10 picks all slotted over $141,000.
Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75 percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75 percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100 percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100 percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
Adding Brett Austin through the 2014 Draft and Jhoandro Alfaro as a free agent from Colombia deepens the White Sox catcher pool. They still don't have a clear-cut backstop of the future, so that position figures to be a target, as does pitching, pitching and more pitching.
Rodon ended a stretch of three straight position players selected with the White Sox first pick. Outfielder Courtney Hawkins in 2012 and right-hander Kris Honel in 2001 represent the most recent high school position player and pitcher, respectively, taken with the team's first selection.
Shortstop Tim Anderson committed 53 errors over parts of two Minor League seasons after being selected 17th overall in the 2013 Draft. But Anderson has worked hard to improve his defense, and his offense at the lower levels has proven to be dynamic. Entering Monday, Anderson had a .311 average with 19 stolen bases for Double-A Birmingham, although he had struck out 46 times and worked just five walks over 215 plate appearances. Anderson could force his way to the big league level at some point in the 2017 season, if not '16.
Don't forget right-handed pitcher Tyler Danish, the team's second-round selection in the 2013 Draft, who at 20 years old is already a part of Birmingham's starting rotation.
When asked for Minor League surprises, White Sox director of player development Nick Capra mentioned Jordan Guerrero, who has opened the 2015 season with a 6-0 record and a 1.24 ERA over eight starts for Class A Kannapolis. The 15th-round selection in the '12 Draft and the team's 27th-ranked prospect produced a 6-2 record with a 3.46 ERA last season for the Intimidators. The southpaw has relief potential at the Major League level, but he also could develop into a back-end starter.
In The Show
Chris Sale, who topped the 2010 Draft class, is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. Rodon went from North Carolina St. to the White Sox rotation in one year, while Gordon Beckham, the eighth overall pick in the 2008 Draft, returned to the South Side as a utility infielder in 2015 after being traded to the Angels last season.
The plan is to sustain the team's ongoing rebuilding process, or to reshape it by infusing players from their Minor League system each season. The White Sox will continue to rely on players such as Jake Petricka (second round, 2010), Chris Beck (second round, 2012) and Micah Johnson (ninth round, 2012), who have seen big league time this season.
The White Sox recent top picks
2014: Rodon, LHP, White Sox
2013: Anderson, SS, Double-A Birmingham
2012: Hawkins, OF, Birmingham
2011: Keenyn Walker, OF, Class A Winston-Salem
2010: Sale, LHP, White Sox