2017 White Sox Draft Review7 min read
The Theme of this draft was very, very clear; polished college hitters with apt power and good plate discipline. Both Day’s 1 and 2 were completely full of polished college bats, starting at the top with Jake Burger in Round 1. Overall, college players ruled the draft, as the Sox really took 1 single High Schooler that means anything, and he is a converted Water Polo player on nobody’s radar that they took for an underslot signing after stealing Evan Skoug in Round 7. Scouting Director Nick Hostetler said on Chuck Garfein’s White Sox talk Podcast that this wasn’t necessarily the plan, they had High Schoolers in mind (specifically mentioning Round 3) but they got drafted right before them or the bonus demands didn’t match what they could do. In the 1st two rounds however it sounded like Sheets and Burger were truly the guys they settled on (Speculation, but I think Austin Beck was the pipe dream at 11) for the first two rounds. All in all, the Sox had a nice draft that drew pretty universal praise, with the objective being very clear… DINGERZ
Let’s take a look at the picks.
- Round 1 (11): Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State
- Round 2 (49): Gavin Sheets, 1B, Wake Forest
Listening to Nick Hostetler on the White Sox Talk Podcast (An excellent podcast for any White Sox fans), he referred to a group of 5 guys they had marked for their 11th pick, guys they figured might be around in the range. I’m purely speculating, but based on who this regime has targeted in drafts, I really don’t think Jeren Kendall was in the mix at all, and him slipping to 23 sort of confirms my doubts. I think the Sox “5” was Austin Beck, Pavin Smith, Adam Haseley, Jake Burger and Evan White. Beck supposedly wowed at his workout and the other 4 are polished college bats, exactly what the Sox repeatedly targeted all draft. The Sox ended up with Missouri State’s Jake Burger, a power hitting 3B who wasn’t much of a prospect out of High School, but absolutely tore up college pitching for 3 years and was a consensus top 10-20 prospect in the nation this year. Burger combines a nice hit tool with 55-60 power, but there are serious questions about his chances of sticking at 3B. Burger’s bat profiles much better as a 3B, so the Sox have serious interest in him being able to hack it at 3B, and from all accounts they believe he will be able to stick there. The pick reminds me off last year’s first rounder, Zach Collins, as both were polished college hitters with a good approach and good power, but their ability to stick at their positon will ultimately decide if they were worthy of a top 10 selection. It’s also worth noting Burger grew up a Sox fan, really wanted to get drafted here at 11, and has received ++ marks on his makeup and character. Overall, it’s a solid, if unspectacular pick that should have been expected. I might have preferred Nick Pratto or J.B Bukauskas here, but its hard to get too upset about this pick. This was clearly their guy at 11. Hopefully we have our Matt Davidson (?) replacement in 2-3 years. Burger should slot in around Zach Burdi on the Sox top mid-season prospects list, so about #8 or #9 makes sense (If you recall, Zach Collins shot up to #1 on many publication’s lists last year. A lot can change in a year)
Gavin Sheets is a large human being, with a really sweet swing from the left side and a great approach. Once again, his trademarks (Power, Approach, College Performance, Good K:BB ratio) are exactly what the Sox targeted, so he made a ton of sense. Hostetler mentioned the Sox were actually considering him at 11 early in the process, so it sounds like they were quite pleased to add this kind of power at #49. It’s really hard to complain about the Sox getting a guy who seemed to be their clear cut target at 49, so I’ll keep this portion brief. Sheets should slot in somewhere around #10 or so in their mid-season prospect lists, right around Luis Alexander Basabe, who is basically his antithesis as a prospect.
- Round 3 (87): Luis Gonzalez, OF, University of New Mexico
- Round 4 (117): Lincoln Henzman, RHP, University of Louisville
- Round 5 (147): Tyler Johnson, RHP, University of South Carolina
- Round 6 (177): Kade McClure, RHP, University of Louisville
- Round 7 (207): Evan Skoug, C, TCU
- Round 8 (237): Sam Abbott, 1B, Curtis HS (Washington)
- Round 9 (267) Craig Dedlow, OF, Indiana
- Round 10 (297): JB Olson, RHP, Oklahoma
Round 2 was where the Sox really certified their “College Players and DINGERZ approach”. Also, Louisville players. Go Cards! Anyways, as for the actual picks, the Sox’s 3rd round choice of New Mexico OF Luis Gonzalez drew pretty consistent praise for getting a talented college performer with a chance to play CF in the majors, but it was clear that Gonzalez wasn’t actually the White Sox plan. Nick Hostetler was pretty open in admitting they had targeted a High Schooler with this pick, but he got scooped up before their pick at #87. Some of the top High Schoolers who went at the start of round 3 included Blayne Enlow (76), Mason House (78) and Nick Allen (81), all of whom I would have loved to see drafted at pick 87. If I have one complaint about this draft for the White Sox it’s the complete lack of diversification of their system, adding a bunch of college players to a system full of college players. I would have really loved to see them use a top 3 selection on a talented but raw high schooler with some real potential.
Day 2 continued with a run on college arms, as college closers Lincoln Henzman and Tyler Johnson came off the board to the White Sox as Starting Pitchers, which should be an interesting transformation. Of the two, Henzman seems like the more likely starter, as he has experience starting in the Cape Cod League and for Louisville, and mostly features an arsenal of pitch to weak contact stuff. Johnson seems like a guy who could one day occupy the 7th or 8th inning for the White Sox with a great fastball-slider combination. Overall I was fairly pleased with these selections, along with 6th round pick Kade McClure, a starting pitcher for Louisville who probably maxes out as a AAAA arm who swings from AAA to the MLB to make spot starts, which is a GREAT outcome for a 6th young pick
The star selection of Day 2 actually occurred in Round 7, as the White Sox nabbed MLB.com‘s #48 overall prospect and Libertyville native TCU C Evan Skoug, a massive power bat who plays catcher for a team currently playing the College World Series. For some context, Skoug was rated “higher” than the Sox 2nd round pick, so getting him in the 7th represents some incredible value, especially when you consider they didn’t go way underslot with any of their picks before 7 to include Skoug. His chances at catching at the major league level are slim, but Skoug offers terrific power from the left side, and if he can cut down a bit on his swing and miss has a chance to be an Evan Gattis type player at the MLB level, which is simply outstanding value in the 7th round.
- They drafted a lot of guys. You really shouldn’t bother. If any of these guys emerge you will have time to learn all about them in the minors. It is worth mentioning their 38th round pick was Larry King’s Son. Not his grandson, not his great grandson, his fucking son. He has an 18 year old kid. Just a terrible visual there.
So in conclusion, I thought the Sox draft may have been a little on the “safe” side for my liking, but its really hard to get too upset with their Front Office’s work here. They had a clear objective to get polish college hitters with power and good approaches and they clearly accomplished that goal. My one complaint would be I would have loved to see a High Schooler in the early rounds to mix up the concentration of top prospects a bit. None the less, this draft only adds to an already loaded system and creates even more excitement for the White Sox future.