The Chicago White Sox approach the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year-Player Draft with the third overall pick, While their focus has narrowed to a short list of players at the top of the draft, the White Sox front office has “played coy” in commenting on a preference for any particular player.
The assumption has been that the White Sox will focus on pitching and choose one of the three best pitchers available in this draft, Brady Aiken, Tyler Kolek, or Carlos Rodon. Signability has been discussed as a key consideration.
Stephen Forsha, the editor of Southside Showdown cites ESPN’s Keith Law, who wrote that the White Sox would like to select Kolek. Law reiterated this stance in an interview on ESPN Chicago, where, at the 2:40 mark and following, he explains that the White Sox have zeroed in on Kolek, who has a powerful right-handed arm but whom Law described as “raw metarial.”
On the other hand, Collin Whitcurch of The Catbird Seat reports that the latest murmurs suggest the White Sox may adopt a “best player available approach.” This shift in public posture may be in response to the possibility that if Kolek and Brady Aiker were taken with the first two picks, Carlos Rodon might cost the team too much to both sign him and still accomplish the other things the Sox wish to do in the draft:
With $5.7 million allocated to for the No. 3 pick, the White Sox would likely have to use all or most of it in order to sign Rodon were he their selection. It’s entirely possible that Hahn would choose to go the cheaper route in order to stockpile cash to sign players above slot in later rounds, but again, he makes it sound like the money will allow them to go the “best player available” route in each round, including at No. 3.
We’ll find out Thursday night if Hahn goes bargain shopping or if he’s almost quite literally ready to put Jerry’s money where his mouth is.
But there is yet another hand concerning this matter, for the White Sox may be inclined to go after a college rather than high school pitcher. They might wish to select a player less in need of development, one who could provide a quicker return to the Major League ballclub.
What makes this worthy of reflection is that the White Sox successfully rebuilt the AL’s worst offense this past offseason, adding key players, as Scott Merkin notes:
Hahn’s much ballyhooed reshaping process began last season, strongly augmented by the additions via the trades for right fielderAvisail Garcia and center fielder Adam Eaton and of course first baseman Jose Abreu through the free agent route. Over the first third of this season, even with an apparent season-ending shoulder injury sustained by Garcia and numerous other injuries to Chris Sale,Matt Lindstrom, Gordon Beckham and even Abreu, the process seems to be moving in the right direction.
A more Major-League-ready college pitcher might be exactly what White Sox pitching needs, as it could help the ballclub sooner rather than later, as Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago writes:
The White Sox believe they could be ready to make some serious noise in the coming years, so don’t be surprised to see the club use the first pick on a college pitcher who can rise quickly over a high school talent with slightly more upside.
In the minor league system, guys such as second baseman Micah Johnson, third baseman Matt Davidson and outfielder Courtney Hawkins are coming. Right-handed starter Chris Beck, currently with a 3.72 ERA in 12 starts at Double-A Birmingham, has major league ability written all over him.
The second thing Hahn’s short-term success with the offense does is put the White Sox in the position of being able to focus on stockpiling talent for the future.