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Prep star J.P. Crawford has what White Sox are looking for

J P Crawford

J P Crawford

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Updated: June 5, 2013 12:39AM



SEATTLE — The dark state of the White Sox has turned the high beams on the draft because it’s plain to see they need the help.

You name the position, the Sox need reinforcements, not only on the 25-man roster but in a farm system that has hardly any prospects ready to step in and make them better right now.

With the 17th pick Thursday, the Sox have a chance to get the first shortstop in the draft, which would be a good building block for the Rick Hahn era.

Lakewood (Calif.) High School shortstop J.P. Crawford, the top-rated middle infielder on the board, is expected to be available around the time their turn comes up. Baseball America’s mock draft has the Phillies — who haven’t drafted this high since they took Gavin Floyd with the fourth pick in 2001 — taking Crawford with the 16th pick, however. That publication has the Sox taking slugging outfielder Austin Wilson of Stanford. And Sox scouting director Doug Laumann hasn’t ruled out taking a college pitcher with the pick, either.

“It’s not always an easy pick between college pitcher and high school shortstop,’’ Laumann said Tuesday. “It’s a whole different dynamic. The college pitcher could be 1½ years away vs. four or five years for a high school shortstop to show up here.’’

The Sox can’t go wrong at any particular position because they need middle infielders, corner infielders who hit with power and outfielders who can hit, preferably with some pop.

And there’s never anything wrong with taking a college pitcher, and as dicey as that position can be, the risk can yield a high reward at the position that has the biggest impact on the game. Look no further than Chris Sale, their first-round pick in 2009.

“We are looking for the most impactful guy,’’ Laumann said. “Those are the types of things we asked Rick. Kenny [Williams] always will have his input and still does, but we are going the direction Rick wants us to go, and that’s the direction we are trying to take.’’

Williams, the former GM and now an executive vice president, has scouted some of the prospects, but it has been clear since Hahn was promoted from assistant general manager to GM that it’s his operation now.

Crawford, a 6-2, long-armed player with sure hands, an above-average arm and good instincts, fits the type of “toolsy” athletic player the Sox went after when Williams was in charge. But Jared Mitchell, Keenyn Walker and Courtney Hawkins are anything but can’t-miss prospects.

If Crawford is gone before they pick, the Sox are high on shortstop Tim Anderson of East Central (Miss.) Junior College, sources say. Anderson hits for power but doesn’t have Crawford’s arm. He has been compared to Brandon Phillips and Orlando Hudson.

The best shortstop in the Sox’ system is Carlos Sanchez, who projects better as a major-league second baseman. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez is 31, and while the team has control over his contract through 2016, he could be traded if Hahn shifts to a rebuilding or modified rebuilding phase should the tumbling Sox continue down this woeful path.

Laumann said the Sox are eyeing five or six players they believe will be available when they pick.

The Sox’ brain trust, including Laumann, the scouting staff, Hahn and Williams, has been preparing in the days leading up to the draft.

“We’re confident one of the guys will remain available, and we’ll get a guy we really like,’’ Laumann said.



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