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White Sox taking time to prepare for Draft

While first-round pick is important, team is also focused on later rounds

CHICAGO -- You are the Chicago White Sox and have the third overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

It's an exciting and important part of the reshaping process brought about by a 99-loss 2013 campaign that produced this high first-round selection. That reshaping engineered by general manager Rick Hahn certainly looks good through 13 games, with Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu making instant impacts, and the youthful athleticism seemingly energizing the veterans.

Getting an impact player at No. 3 becomes essential in the strengthening of the White Sox core, with a signing bonus slot of $5,721,500 and an overall Draft bonus pool of $9,509,700. So this excitement also carries with it a bit of inherent pressure, not to mention a great deal of preparation as Draft Day on June 5 sits approximately seven weeks away.

"What we thought was going to be a fun and exciting time, I think has become … the reality has set in just wanting to be sure we are as absolutely prepared as we possibly can be," White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann said. "We are not leaving any stone unturned.

"Ultimately, by the end of the day, when it's all said and done, it probably will boil back down to where we started. We still want to make sure we uncover every option."

Even with only the Astros and Marlins picking in front of them, there still aren't a great deal of certainties for the White Sox.

Chicago is likely to select a pitcher, barring something completely unforeseen. That pitcher will probably come from a group of five in left-hander Carlos Rodon from North Carolina State, right-hander Jeff Hoffman from East Carolina, right-hander Tyler Kolek from Shepherd High School in Texas, right-hander Tyler Beede from Vanderbilt and left-hander Brady Aiken from Cathedral Catholic High School in California.

Laumann and White Sox assistant scouting director Nick Hostetler have seen these pitchers at least two or three times each, and they will see them again leading up to the Draft. Hahn, executive vice president Ken Williams, assistant general manager Buddy Bell and assistant to the general manager Jeremy Haber also have watched these potential selections in action and they will all do so again.

"Between the six of us, one of us will be at almost every start that each pitcher has left," Hostetler said. "It has been huge for us to have eyes on every start.

"I made a comment to Doug that Rick is one of the smartest men I know, Kenny played in the big leagues and went to Stanford, and Buddy has won more Gold Gloves than I've owned fielding gloves. Their input has been tremendous for us."

The making of this pick will be a collaborative process, much the same as many other key moves executed throughout the organization. Laumann is the man in charge, and he is coming off of an excellent 2013 Draft class that included shortstop Tim Anderson (first-round pick), right-hander Tyler Danish (second), right-hander Brad Goldberg (10th), outfielder Jacob May (third) and third baseman Trey Michalczewski (seventh), to name a few.

Finding the best player available, or possibly best pitcher in this instance, continues to be the White Sox challenge, and having many voices asking the right questions can only sharpen that focus.

"Honestly, it's very similar to how a lot of these decisions are made," Hahn said. "We get in a room, we get a lot of opinions. We express our opinions honestly and openly in that room, and then as a group, we try to come to the best conclusion.

"Doug and his staff are the ones on a weekly basis seeing all these guys, and it's incumbent on them to put them in the best order. Kenny, Buddy, myself, we want to see them. It's an important decision, and there's a fair amount of video work as well as in-person work that gets done.

"We do that in large part so that we are educated, so that we get in the room and have a healthy debate," Hahn said. "None of these -- free-agent signing or a big league trade or a Minor League callup or the Draft -- is about any individual going out front and saying, 'This is me, I did this.' It's about, ideally, having a variety of opinions, well-informed opinions, and then coming to the best conclusion as a group."

Picks made by the Astros and Marlins will influence the White Sox selection more than any voice in their Draft room. Rodon has long been thought of as the No. 1 selection, but what if Houston goes in another direction? What if No. 3 comes around and Kolek and Rodon, who could potentially help Chicago's rotation in 2015, are both available?

Those questions more than likely will be explored, as well as paying a great deal of attention to the rest of the selections.

You are the Chicago White Sox and know the importance of this year's Draft, even beyond that high-profile third selection.

"One thing everybody wants to focus on is the first pick and rightfully so, when that amount is allotted," Hostetler said. "But I've got to be honest. As a department and staff, we are just as focused on two, three, four, five and six.

"Put all your eggs in one pick and worry about just the first, and then you leave yourself short in other places. We've done a good job as a staff, from Doug to our amateur scouts, understanding our focus is getting the best possible player in each round regardless of position and high school or college. That first pick is where the shine is, but where you make your Draft is after that pick."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.
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