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Rebuilding White Sox look ahead to '18 Draft

Struggles this season could lead to top pick next year
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- The White Sox entered Friday's series opener with the Indians with the third-worst record in Major League Baseball.

With a 1-11 mark since the All-Star break and general manager Rick Hahn moving veteran players as part of the rebuild, the White Sox have a chance to slide below the Giants and even the Phillies for the No. 1 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.

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CHICAGO -- The White Sox entered Friday's series opener with the Indians with the third-worst record in Major League Baseball.

With a 1-11 mark since the All-Star break and general manager Rick Hahn moving veteran players as part of the rebuild, the White Sox have a chance to slide below the Giants and even the Phillies for the No. 1 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.

View Full Game Coverage

Losing becomes the negative part of the rebuild, but it actually serves as a means to an end in giving the White Sox ability to draft an elite prospect and have a greater Draft pool across the rounds. That luxury, of sorts, goes to White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler, who already is embracing the challenge six weeks after the '17 Draft.

"Painful, exciting, stressful. Pretty much anything you can think of," said a smiling Hostetler, concerning his thoughts on having at least a Top 5 pick in the '18 Draft. "The hard part is we all had to live through this to pick that high.

"Ultimately you can pick that high, first, second or 15th, but you've got to get it right. We can sit here and say how important it is to have the first or second, but if you don't get it right, it doesn't matter. You are just going to set your organization back for decades if you continue to miss on first-round picks."

Hostetler took charge of the White Sox Draft in '16, a class featuring Zack Collins, Zack Burdi and Alec Hansen, to name a few, which received rave reviews from many in the industry. The '17 Draft, which included players such as Jake Burger, Gavin Sheets and Evan Skoug, also earned high early grades, with a continued target of offensive players who get on base and hit with power.

This past Draft featured one high school player taken by the White Sox in the Top 20. Sam Abbott, chosen in the eighth round, was a water polo player first. But with Hostetler in town for Saturday's Under Armour All-America game at Wrigley Field, featuring top high school talent, Hostetler certainly is not averse to taking high school players high up in this important part of the rebuild.

"We want to start adding some [high school] guys to space this out a little bit," Hostetler said. "We don't want to jumble these guys and take a bunch of 21- and 22-year-olds every year and it ends up blocking others.

"I'm really excited about next year's Draft. It's extremely deep. It also has some superstar potential in it, both at the high school and college ranks, pitchers and hitters. There's a lot of guys in this Draft that when we look four, five, six years later, they are going to be impacting baseball to the likes of what the [Manny] Machados, the [Bryce] Harpers, the [Mike] Trouts, the new-wave guys that are in. You are going to see a lot of guys from this coming 2018 Draft be in that category."

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.

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