CHICAGO -- The most memorable moments of Courtney Hawkins' White Sox tenure might be his eight home runs, 33 RBIs and 11 stolen bases produced over three levels during his first Minor League season in 2012.It might be the four home runs Hawkins hit during Spring Training in 2015. Then
CHICAGO -- The most memorable moments of Courtney Hawkins' White Sox tenure might be his eight home runs, 33 RBIs and 11 stolen bases produced over three levels during his first Minor League season in 2012.
It might be the four home runs Hawkins hit during Spring Training in 2015. Then again, it could be the back flip Hawkins did in a full suit after being selected out of high school as the 13th overall pick in the '12 MLB Draft.
Hawkins ultimately did not pan out as the projected middle-of-the-order power source the White Sox envisioned, and he was released from the organization on April 18. His struggles to succeed certainly weren't from lack of hard work by the now 24-year-old, as he is considered a high-character young man by everyone who knows him.
But as the White Sox comprehensively prepare to pick fourth overall in the 2018 Draft, they understand even a pick such as Hawkins doesn't necessarily guarantee Major League production.
"When you are talking about player personnel, we've got to sign off on any of the choices. And we were happy to sign off on Courtney," said White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams, who was Chicago's general manager in 2012. "If you are in the game long enough, you will see players who are picked lower that turn out to achieve things that you never imagine and vice versa."
"There are going to be guys that never make it and don't get out of Double-A, but the process in taking that player made him the right player," said White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler, who watched Hawkins a plethora of times in Hostetler's role as East Coast crosschecker. "As long as you are sticking to what you believe is the right way to evaluate these players from an objective and subjective point of view with your scouts and analytics department, that's what over time we believe will equal itself out."
White Sox Draft selections now focus more upon baseball players with athleticism as opposed to high-end athletes whose baseball skills might be a bit secondary. Even with that change, there's no way to predict how a player will project five or six years down the line.
"I've said it 1,000 times, [when] we scout these guys, they are using aluminum bats, pitching to aluminum bats," Hostetler said. "They come into pro ball and you change their equipment on them. The NFL doesn't go to a bigger size football, the NBA doesn't [change its ball]. Hockey doesn't use a different stick.
"In baseball, they come in and they get the wood put in their hands. There is so much volatility in the Draft. So much unpredictability. You have to rely on the past comparisons and try to make sure to put your best stamp on what you think is going to work for your organization."
Hindsight becomes 20-20, with every team having multiple regretful Draft moments after the fact. Hawkins serves as just one example, beset by injuries during his time in the White Sox organization. But at 24, he still possesses a chance to succeed in another organization.
Some players far outperform their selection slot, such as Mark Buehrle, the White Sox 38th-round pick in the 1998 Draft who turned out to be one of the franchise's greatest pitchers. Others don't live up to their lofty status, and others simply need time to develop.
"Every player we sign, we scout, we develop, I can't tell you how much we live and die with every at-bat," Hostetler said. "He isn't performing the way you thought and you are wondering why. Where did we go wrong and what do we need to do differently? All of a sudden it clicks and he takes off. You have to just trust the process."
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.