21 White Sox ACE players sign with colleges

November 14th, 2019

CHICAGO -- Kevin Coe knows a thing or two about the White Sox Amateur City Elite, having overseen the youth baseball program for seven years as part of the White Sox organization.

But it was a different perspective for Coe on Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field’s Huntington Bank Stadium Club during the annual ACE Signing Day event. Kevin Coe, Jr., Coe’s son, was one of the signees, officially taking his skills to Eastern Kentucky University.

It seems a fitting connection as ACE has become a baseball family for these young players.

“The program is phenomenal,” the elder Coe said. “The White Sox are phenomenal for having this program in the community and providing opportunities for a lot of families. A lot of these kids wouldn’t be playing baseball if they didn’t have this opportunity to play in the White Sox program. It has been great.”

Twenty-one ACE players were signing day participants. Some stayed local, as Jalen Anderson signed with Chicago State University and James Harris went to University Illinois/Chicago (UIC). Alan Brown, Casey Coates and Christopher Henry committed to Morehouse College in Atlanta, the only historically black college and university for men.

Tre Hondras chose Michigan, with four ACE players having been part of the College World Series runner-up squad in ’19. And then there’s Ed Howard, a shortstop signing with the University of Oklahoma, who early projections also have as a first-round pick in the 2020 Draft.

Many of these opportunities would not be possible without their participation in ACE, a true jewel among the many great community connections produced by the White Sox.

“Whatever we’ve done, nothing compares to this program,” said White Sox senior executive vice president Howard Pizer, who made the welcoming comments to the players and their families and coaches.

“It’s like one big family. It put me around the right coaches, the right showcases. It gave me facilities to train at,” Howard said. “It was a place for me to play baseball, but also play high-level baseball. I love it. The coaches really helped me, and they all took care of me. It’s my ACE family.”

For Joshua Houston, who signed to play at Southern University, ACE is a family much like the situation for the Coes. His father, Jerry Sr., has been a coach for the White Sox ACE program since its inception in 2007, and his two older brothers are ACE alumni who played at the Division I level.

“I was basically born into it,” Houston said.

When asked for his top memory as part of the program, Houston pointed to playing as part of a 13-and-under team that finished 43-1.

“First time I hit a home run in travel ball,” Houston said. “It just all went well, until we lost that one game. That was the best season of my life.”

In reality, this ACE program really isn’t about wins and losses. It’s not even so much about baseball, as much as it’s a program to help kids succeed both on and off the diamond.

Wednesday’s participants brought the total of scholarships awarded to ACE players to more than 200. Twenty-eight players have been selected by Major League teams, and there were more than 1,000 youth participants in 2019.

Curtis Granderson, one of the true favorite sons of Chicago and the Chicago baseball scene, spoke to the group on Wednesday. Although he’s not connected to the White Sox, he is familiar with and has worked out with some of the people who have played and worked with ACE and has partnered with ACE on many different levels through the Chicago Baseball and Educational Academy, which is a Granderson non-profit in Chicago.

Programs such as ACE practice indoors at UIC during the winter months as part of the Curtis Granderson Stadium Facilities program.

“It’s definitely a great program,” said Granderson, the Marvin Miller Man of the Year. “You get kids an opportunity to play in some places they may not have otherwise. Ed Howard said we get a chance to get showcased in front of all these different scouts. It’s really good to be there so you can have that opportunity, and that’s something the ACE program has been giving to these kids.”

“They taught me hard work,” Howard said. They taught a work ethic to do things the right way, and I just always carry what they taught me and keep it going at a higher level.”