'Power 5' White Sox draft Hackenberg in 18th

July 14th, 2021

CHICAGO -- In the 18th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, the White Sox took catcher Adam Hackenberg out of Clemson.

His name might sound familiar to aficionados of Big 10 football, as his older brother, Christian, threw 48 touchdowns over three seasons as the quarterback for Penn State. He was then taken by the Jets in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

But choosing Adam Hackenberg also represented a theme for the White Sox on Day 3 of the Draft, in that they did a great job attacking Power 5 conferences.

“Guys who come from programs that do a lot of the development already,” White Sox director of amateur scouting Mike Shirley said, “you think the Johnny Rays of the world, Terrell Tatum, Jayson Gonzalez, Adam Hackenberg and even Haylen Green. You have TCU, Clemson, Vanderbilt, NC State. These guys come with the grit and the grind, the makeup to give your system the balance that will make a difference for you.

“Sometimes when you think about taking Colson Montgomery, Wes Kath, you want to put pieces around these guys to help stabilize, make them understand from their peer groups what it takes to be championship-type players. That’s what you buy with Power 5 conference kids. They really provide stability in the clubhouse. You think about the Major League team, with some of the players we have who came out of that sector, you start to realize the value of how it makes everybody better.”

Taking Montgomery at No. 22 overall and third baseman Kath at No. 57 represent the highlight of the White Sox Draft. They not only added premium left-handed-hitting infielders, but premium competitors coming from the high school ranks.

“When you think about who these two kids are and the left-handed potential of two bats who can grow up together, who can mix in and understand what it’s like to be White Sox, those are pieces of the puzzle [that are] hard to find,” Shirley said. “When you want to go find high school players, you want big upside. Both these guys possess it.”

“I’m honored to be part of this Draft class,” Kath told MLB.com. “Based off what I’ve seen from Colson, he looks like a great player, too. I look forward to meeting him and playing with him as the years go on.”

Hackenberg doesn’t have as high of a profile as Chicago's first two picks. But he’s a player the club has followed for a while.

“We think it’s a plus defensive profile,” Shirley said. “The flashes of the bat, we just need to make sure he gets healthy and progresses back into it.

“He had some bumps in the road with his health. We are starting to see the bat come back together. It’s a strong, durable body. He’s an interesting kid. He’s always been a big follow for us. We’ve scouted him since high school.”