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Cold weather hasn't chilled Sox Draft planning

Chicago has eye on targeting hitters with solid on-base skills
MLB.com @scottmerkin

MINNEAPOLIS -- Earlier this week, White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler and national crosschecker Mike Shirley attended a game in Wisconsin as part of continued preparation for the 2018 Draft, which runs from June 4-6.

There was no snow at this particular contest, which put the duo one up on the White Sox, who had three straight games postponed due to blizzard-like conditions at Target Field this weekend. But that fact served as the high point weather-wise for Hostetler in Wisconsin.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Earlier this week, White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler and national crosschecker Mike Shirley attended a game in Wisconsin as part of continued preparation for the 2018 Draft, which runs from June 4-6.

There was no snow at this particular contest, which put the duo one up on the White Sox, who had three straight games postponed due to blizzard-like conditions at Target Field this weekend. But that fact served as the high point weather-wise for Hostetler in Wisconsin.

"It was 32 degrees and the wind was blowing hard in," said Hostetler by phone from a warmer locale. "We luckily got the game in, but the amount of cancellations this year, even in the East, the Midwest.

"The West has been OK weather-wise, but it's been terrible. We've racked up a whole lot of expense money in flight changes this year. It's just been crazy."

Even with the persistent inclement weather, the White Sox have narrowed down their first-round selection field at No. 4 overall to eight to 10 player possibilities. Hostetler and his hard-working crew feel comfortable the team's initial pick will come from this group.

"Myself and our regional guys and our national guys are circling back on that group of eight to 10 and making sure we get as many looks as possible," Hostetler said. "We are making sure we get [general manager] Rick [Hahn] and [executive vice president] Kenny [Williams] and [assistant general manager] Jeremy [Haber] and [special assistant to Hahn and Hall of Famer] Jim Thome in to see the right guys as we get closer.

"We are putting those lists together. Then we are making sure we have it in the order we want come June 4."

Hostetler will stick to the overall plan set by Hahn back in 2015 by selecting players from an offensive standpoint who walk, get on base and have good strike zone judgement. For pitchers, the focus is on premium stuff so the White Sox can continue their strong tradition of pitching development.

Drafting for need won't happen, aside from special circumstances.

"Once we get to a point that we feel the talent maybe is equal, then we will lean to a need at that point," Hostetler said. "The talent is going to have to be equal and very rarely does that happen."

In the interim, Hostetler will try to stay ahead of the harsh April weather as the White Sox work toward another important rebuild step in June.

"We try to [cope with the weather] as much as we can, but the only thing that's probably wrong more than a baseball scout is a weatherman," said Hostetler with a laugh. "It's hard to follow that sometimes.

"But we'll run from the weather as much as we can just to get away from it. We have so many limited days to see these guys, and if I get rained out or snowed out or something like that, that can set me back a week just in scheduling."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox