White Sox see ‘thin’ talent pool in amateur draft
BY TONI GINNETTI email@example.com June 2, 2012 11:30PM
Chicago White Sox broadcaster Ken Harrelson cheers for the White Sox before a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners in Chicago, Friday, June 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: July 7, 2012 8:09AM
Pitching remains the paramount commodity on the White Sox’ wish list in the amateur draft, which begins Monday.
‘‘I’ve said before that Jerry [Reinsdorf] and Kenny [Williams] have always said pitching is where it starts,’’ said Doug Laumann, director of amateur scouting. ‘‘If we’re going to break a tie [between players], we usually break it with a pitcher. But it’s important to see who the best and most impactful player is out there.’’
The Sox have the 13th pick in the first round. Though they traditionally have selected from the college ranks, Laumann conceded that the ‘‘thin’’ talent pool might mean the Sox draft a high school player.
Laumann said the draft overall ‘‘is probably as thin as I’ve seen in a decade’’ because of changes in rules and money allotment.
‘‘Teams started spending a lot more money on high school players a couple years ago,’’ he said, ‘‘and I think that’s really kind of depleted the college ranks.’’
Two seasons ago, No. 13 was lucky for the Sox, who selected Chris Sale.
‘‘He was able to help quickly, and we kind of recognized that,’’ Laumann said. ‘‘But at the same time, teams have done that in the past, and those kinds of guys didn’t really have a particularly high ceiling. They were guys you thought might get [to the majors] quickly, but they kind of were what they were. With Chris, we recognized that he could get there quickly, but also there was something beyond that with him.’’
Sale, who played at Florida Gulf Coast, is the only pitcher the Sox have drafted in the last four years. Second baseman Gordon Beckham was taken in the first round in 2008 out of Georgia, outfielder Jared Mitchell in 2009 from LSU and outfielder Keenyn Walker in 2011 from Central Arizona Junior College.
Mitchell is at Class AA Birmingham, where he’s hitting .287 with four home runs and 33 RBI. Walker is at Class A Kannapolis, where he’s hitting .259 with 29 stolen bases.
Laumann said the Sox’ recent success at the major-league level will affect their draft plans because they aren’t in rebuilding mode.
‘‘We weren’t sure where we were going to be at this point,’’ he said. ‘‘ ‘Are we in a rebuilding mode or are we in a mode that we’re going to do this and that?’ As we sit here today, we’re in first place. Had we been 15-30 and not where we are right now, the mode might have been ‘Let’s start building a little bit.’ ’’