The 2017 MLB Draft begins Monday June 12th. As a rebuilding club, this an extremely important draft for the Chicago White Sox.
As we head into the final weekend before the MLB draft, it is important to consider how Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn and the White Sox front office will approach such a crucial draft. In the midst of a rebuild, every move must be met with careful deliberation and delicacy, in order to maximize the eventual payout.
Hahn has done an incredible job thus far, acquiring some fantastic talent in offseason Winter Meetings, establishing the White Sox farm system as one of the best in the entire league. He also proved that the club could stand out in the free agent arena as well, by signing international free agent and Cuban phenom Luis Robert a few weeks ago.
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Due to the hard work by the front office, the White Sox have expedited some of the hardest processes of a rebuild by hauling in tremendous amount of young talent in such a short period of time. However, the rebuilding never stops, and the worst thing that could happen would be the front office becoming complacent with their recent success. Albeit I can not see that happening, due to various interviews in which Hahn has definitively expressed his total dedication to bringing a championship back to the South Side.
With the 2017 MLB Draft beginning this Monday, Sox fans are dying to see which young star will be wearing the black and white in a few years. The 2017 draft class is bursting with exciting collegiate and prep talent. Before we break this down, its important to note that I am not an MLB scout, so all mock projections are based on those provided from MLB.com and Baseball America.
The 11th overall pick is a decent place to be for the White Sox, an opportunity to scoop up any players missed in the top ten. It’s not hard to conceptualize the direction they will most likely go this year. With an overflowing pitching core and infield, expect the Sox to aggressively go after an outfielder.
The outfield depth leaves much to be desired still, despite signing Robert. There is still a ton of work to be done. Losing Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals via trade was a huge blow to an already thin outfield. From a defensive standpoint, Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia will probably not win a gold glove any time soon. It’s time to invest defensive strength for the Sox. Leury Garcia is outplaying expectations, but doesn’t fit into this rebuild. Jacob May is clearly not ready for the big leagues.
So who will be joining Robert in the future White Sox outfield? According to MLB.com and Baseball America, it’s fairly predictable. The overwhelming consensus points to the Sox drafting Jeren Kendall from Vanderbilt. The young outfielder has exceptional power and speed. In 2017, Kendall owned a slash line of .312/.379/.569 with 15 home runs and 52 RBIs. He also racked up 19 stolen bases. Despite his solid numbers, critics worry about Kendall’s struggling contact. In 253 at-bats he struck out 71 times (28%). This growing concern may drastically affect Kendall’s overall draft value, bumping him out of the top-ten.
The White Sox may also go after a pitcher. There’s no such thing as too many pitching prospects, right? Both Alex Faedo (Florida) and J.B Bukauskas (North Carolina) may be up for grabs. Realistically, Carlos Rodon is the only current starter who fits into the rebuild. This draft class is overwhelmingly dominated by excellent pitchers, as well. Drafting a pitcher now, and going after a positional player next season with a higher pick may be the move.
Faedo had an incredible year, going 7-2 with an ERA of 2.70. In 103 1/3 innings pitched, he registered 123 strikeouts allowing only 4 home runs. Bakauskas finished similarly as well, going 9-1 with an ERA of 2.50 and 116 strikeouts.
Less realistically, Adam Hasely (Virginia) would be the perfect draft pick. He’s literally “got it all” when it comes to the game. He can hit, field and even pitch. This year, Haseley owned a slash line of .390/.491/.659 with 14 homers 56 RBIs. Haseley also impressed scouts with his strong plate discipline, striking out only 21 times. However, its hard to believe that he will still be around by the time the Sox pick.