CHICAGO -- If the names Tony Menendez and Tom Hartley don't exactly resonate with White Sox fans, it's probably because neither of these two players ever reached the Major Leagues.
Menendez, a pitcher, and Hartley, an outfielder, were the top two White Sox picks in the 1984 First-Year Player Draft, marking the last time the South Siders selected two high schoolers with their opening selections.
The last time, that is, until Monday night.
With the 13th pick, the White Sox selected outfielder Courtney Hawkins out of Carroll High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. And when most people assumed the White Sox would go collegiate pitcher with their 48th pick in Comp Round A, team representative Ron Karkovice stepped to the podium and announced the White Sox had chosen Florida prep first baseman Keon Barnum of King High School in Tampa.
At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, the left-handed Barnum has drawn comparisons to both Fred McGriff and Ryan Howard. That's not bad company to keep, and Barnum's development process could start June 9 at a mini-camp in Glendale, Ariz., as the 19-year-old appears close to agreeing to terms with the White Sox.
"I believe so," said White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann, when asked if he thought Barnum was close to signing, with a recommended signing slot of $1,052,500. "There's a lot that plays into this, but we've done quite a bit of homework and quite a bit of foundation has been laid."
This Tampa-area native verbally committed to Miami and also was recruited by South Florida, Florida International and Central Florida, setting a school record with a .491 average as a junior. According to WTSP.com, Barnum has worked out for six teams since his high-school season ended about one month ago and White Sox general manager Ken Williams was among those who watched him in action recently.
"The Dodgers and the White Sox I feel like I did my best," Barnum told WTSP.com. "I felt like I hit the ball well both of those two days, those two workouts. I feel like I showed my power pretty well."
According to the scouting report on MLB.com's Draft Tracker, Barnum "can generate a lot of bat speed and has the ability to drive the ball to all parts of the ballpark." He also is fine at first base and could be a corner outfielder, but Laumann indicated they wanted to keep him from the rigors of the outfield or running his big body into walls and just let him swing the bat and show off his power at first base.
After talking to the media via conference call Monday night, Laumann and his staff continued mapping out Tuesday's Draft possibilities. Pitching figures to be a priority, but in a change of philosophy almost two decades in the making, the White Sox opened with dynamic high-school position players possessing big offensive upsides.
"We felt like the potential, the ceiling with these two kids, the chance for them to eventually develop and not in a quick fashion but in a next wave of guys to develop and get here to Chicago, to have those two guys in a lineup, would really be impressive," Laumann said. "Hawkins is more advanced than Barnum, but both have huge ceilings and have potential to be impact players.
"When you take guys this high, they all have physical tools, size and strength and speed. They are able to play a position and have arm strength. The thing that separates how good they become and how quickly they become good is making consistent contact. The biggest thing for young hitters is making contact, learning to get the barrel of the bat on the ball.
"You really don't want those types of kids to sacrifice their power," Laumann said. "We need to make sure they are able to make enough contact to keep them along the progression we need to have to get to the big leagues."
Hawkins is trying to lead Carroll to a state title in Round Rock, and Laumann said they probably would want him to take a break for a week or two after this weekend. But Laumann suspects Hawkins will be immediately ready to start his big league pursuit, just like Barnum.
"That's my dream," Barnum told WTSP.com. "It's what I've been dreaming for, to go play pro ball."
"I'm going to work on everything," Hawkins said. "If I work on everything, I'll get to the Majors as quickly as possible."