Kenny Williams: A Draft History
By Matt Adams
Draft time is upon us. Kenny Williams and the White Sox are hopeful to make good use of the 13th pick. This isn’t Kenny’s first rodeo, the first picks he’s made in the past all still exist in some way, shape or form now. Let’s have a look-see at where.
2011 – Keenyn Walker
There was a bit of jabber when Keenyn Walker was selected with the White Sox first 2011 pick. A toolsy, athletic pick went against Ozzie Guillen’s philosophy that baseball players and athletes are two separate things. One can be a an athletic baseball player without a doubt, but athlete doesn’t necessarily mean good baseball player, sure. And the Sox have a slew of unfulfilled athletic picks to corroborate. The jury is obviously still out on Walker as he falls in the “too early to tell” category with the Class A Kannapolis Intimidators. The top graded tool for Keenyn Walker is speed, and that’s on display so far in 2012 as he has already swiped 30 bases in just 53 games. Scouts will forever tell you to stay away from comps, but so long as you’re not leaning on them I think they are fun. Comp I’ve read on Walker: Austin Jackson.
2010 – Chris Sale
If you’re reading this, it’s highly unlikely that I need to update you on his whereabouts. A brief stay in the minors lead Sale to a spot on the big squad in the bullpen, followed by a 2012 move to the rotation which has turned into a battle for staff ace. Successful KW pick or most successful KW pick?
2009 – Jared Mitchell
Mitchell is a currently in Birmingham playing for the White Sox AA affiliate, the Barons. After missing 2010 to ankle surgery, 2011 was a bit of a test for Jared as he watched his strikeout rate rise and his stock as a prospect drop. He’s spent 2012 regaining his reputation as a player that can make it and he’s still got plenty of time to prove it. I’ve seen him regarded as a Carl Crawford type, and he doesn’t disagree.
2008 – Gordon Beckham
In 2010 the Sox had the 8th pick in the draft, and it was used to select Gordon Beckham out of Georgia. At the time he was billed as a Dustin Pedroia type player with lots of doubles power. In his rookie year, he put up a .270/.347/.460 line and hasn’t come close since. 2012 is looked at as make or break for Gordo’s career on the Southside and as of about 2 weeks ago, it appears he might be headed for “make.” Despite his plate troubles, Beckham carries a reputation as one of the better defensive second basemen in the league.
2007 – Aaron Poreda
Poreda was a live-armed draftee and looked to slot into the starting rotation. I had faith in Poreda and was a bit disappointed to see him traded away. His legacy remains, however, in the form of Jake Peavy. The package of Dexter Carter, Clayton Richard, Adam Russell and Poreda brought an injured Jake Peavy to the Sox at the 2009 deadline. The move has seemed shaky for a bit but is starting to look pretty darn good these days. Poreda is toiling in AA Altoona for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
2006 – Kyle McCulloch
Drafted out of the Univestiy of Texas at Austin, McCulloch posted a decent K rate in his first year at rookie ball, but didn’t do much to impress after that. He was moved through the ranks, given a chance to prove himself with heftier workloads and more advanced talent but wasn’t progressing enough to give himself a shot at the big leagues. The Sox parted ways with him after 2010 and the Reds gave him a shot in their organization in 2011, but released him in January. Current whereabouts are unknown. Presumably looking for an opportunity to throw somewhere.
2005 – Lance Broadway
Ohhh with a name like Lance Broadway it’s no wonder we all thought he was headed to big things. While the Sox were riding the strength of starting pitching to a World Series, it was felt that the next carrier of the torch was perfecting his craft in the lower ranks in preparation to join the big club and be a star. By his second year in the system it looked like he might be on that path but in 2007 he took a step backwards, struggling with control and in 2009 the organization’s patience was exhausted. In January 2010 Broadway was sued for assault after he apparently took his frustrations out on a man during a New Year’s Eve party. He was last seen trying to make the Toronto Blue Jays.
2004 – Josh Fields
I think what scared people the most about Gordon Beckham’s extended sophomore slump is Josh Fields. Fields had a great rookie campaign, .244/.308/.480 with 23 HR. He’d only hit 7 more for the Sox in the next 2 years. The Sox sent him to Kansas City with Chris Getz for another failed third baseman, Mark Teahen. Following the ’09 season Fields was granted free agency and has since become a bit of journeyman spending time in the Pirates, Rockies and Dodgers organization. He now plays for Dodgers’ AAA Albuquerque in the Pacific Coast League.
2003 – Brian Anderson
The future of center field! Just one problem: he couldn’t hit. The Sox waited patiently for Brian Anderson’s bat to come around and it never really did and his above average centerfield work went to waste. His solution to a weak bat? Become a pitcher. Anderson put in time pitching with the Royals and Yankees organizations until he was released last season. He failed to impress the Dodgers during spring training and was released just before the season began and has since signed a minor league contract with the Rockies.
2002 – Royce Ring
Yet another White Sox first pick castoff that finds himself with the Rockies. Ring singed a minor league deal with the Rockies in March following a 10 year bus ride. He’s played for a million teams since the Sox parted ways with him in 2003 for 6 different big league affiliates, most of it in AAA. He has managed some big league time, 68 innings worth was actually fairly impressive in some short stints with Mets and the Padres in ’06 and ’07.
2001 – Kris Honel
Kris Honel was a local pick out of Providence Catholic HS in
BourbonnaisNew Lenox*. He toiled around the lower ranks of the Sox organizations until 2007 with varied results. Injuries may have kept him from fulfilling his MLB promise but he proved that arm strength was never an issue by throwing a no-hitter for the Chico Outlaws in Tijuana on May 23, 2010. Kenny Powers was unavailable for comment. Kris continues to pitch for independent leagues in hopes of one day fulfilling his dream of playing big league ball.
It’s safe to say that the front end of his GM career wasn’t ultimately productive in terms of top shelf talent. That last few, they have a shot to redeem Kenny’s reputation.
*hat tip to reader sager729 for catching the error on Providence Catholic’s location.