Opportunistic White Sox jump when Wolkow falls

The 6-foot-7 slugger, Pipeline's No. 71 Draft prospect, lands with hometown club in seventh round

July 11th, 2023

CHICAGO -- White Sox director of amateur scouting Mike Shirley told MLB.com last week, leading up to the 2023 MLB Draft, that the club had to be ready for a player who might fall or “the famous player in this Draft who might scoot down the board.”

Shirley was talking during this conversation about the team’s 15th overall pick in Sunday's first round, when it selected shortstop Jacob Gonzalez from Ole Miss. But this scenario actually played out with pick No. 209 and outfielder George Wolkow in the seventh round.

Wolkow -- ranked as the No. 71 Draft prospect by MLB Pipeline -- graduated early from Downers Grove North High School, located 20 miles west of Guaranteed Rate Field, and reclassified for the 2023 Draft. He will be an overslot choice for the White Sox, who are thrilled to have the 6-foot-7, 239-pound left-handed hitter.

“Once again, that goes back to the relationship. Covering the backyard. It’s important to us. It’s important to our fan base,” Shirley said. “This is big-time power, a big-time athlete. We feel like we are only tapping the surface of what he may become.

“He goes where he goes. … We wanted to try to attack him, but we were patient, and luckily, we were able to strike a deal. It’s a huge part of the process of what the pool allocation [is], how you spend, when you choose to attack.”

There were admitted Draft savings for the White Sox along the way on Day 2, featuring Rounds 3 to 10, after LSU right-handed pitcher Grant Taylor joined Gonzalez as the team’s Day 1 selections in the second round. Chicago has a $9,072,800 Draft bonus pool, with $248,300 allotted for Wolkow in the seventh.

“We cut some deals,” Shirley said. “But we didn’t sacrifice talent as we cut some deals. You have to be prepared: What is the cost? How bad does the player want to sign?

“Players ask for money, as they should. … Sometimes a player just wants to sign and forego a college career. George Wolkow is ready to start his pro career, and the White Sox walked into that opportunity and are truly excited about the upside he brings to this organization.”

The White Sox drafted six four-year college players and one junior college player on Day 2, and they have picked nine of their 10 overall from the college level. On Monday, they picked five pitchers, two outfielders and left-handed-hitting catcher Calvin Harris in the fourth round. Harris joins Gonzalez and 2022 10th-rounder Tim Elko in moving from Ole Miss to the White Sox.

“We had some guys [in the organization] that wanted to take him in the second,” said Shirley of Harris. “We were lucky to land him.”