White Sox

Nick Hostetler preps for first draft as White Sox amateur scouting director

Nick Hostetler preps for first draft as White Sox amateur scouting director

He’d have loved to be in the shoes of an area scout this past weekend, covering every minute of each of the NCAA conference baseball tournaments and to take a last-minute peak at potential draftees.

Instead, Nick Hostetler was in Chicago to host a final draft tryout on Friday morning before he and his top lieutenants began to pore over all the pertinent information for this week’s amateur baseball draft, which begins on Thursday. Starting on Saturday and concluding Wednesday, the new White Sox amateur scouting director and his most-trusted aides will review anything and everything to determine which amateur athletes are the likeliest to one day contribute to the White Sox.

This draft in particular is important to the White Sox, who own picks Nos. 10, 26 and 49 and have a chance to infuse $9.4 million worth of talent into a system in need of depth. So while the first-year director would have loved to have boots on the ground for one last look this weekend, he’s more than satisfied with his current position.

“I’m not going to undersell the fact that this is a dream come true for me for the guys in the organization to feel confident in my ability,” Hostetler said. “And it helps when you have a great staff. As excited as I am for me personally, I’m as excited for us as a staff for the first one together.”

Hostetler’s transition into the role — one announced last August — is made easier by the fact he has been with the White Sox since 2008. He’s familiar with everyone already in place and isn’t reorganizing the entire department from scratch, which is convenient given how important this draft is for the club.

Hostetler began as an area scout with the White Sox from 2002 to 2004 and returned to the club as in 2008 as a crosschecker, a position he held for four years. He also worked as an area scout for the Atlanta Braves from 2005 to 2007. In 2011, the White Sox promoted Hostetler to assistant scouting director to director Doug Laumann. The two worked side by side until both received promotions last August.

So while Hostetler’s improved seat is new, his face isn’t.

“Nick has been around for a long while, and there’s a great deal of comfort, not only in terms of our relationship in the front office with him but his relationship with the entire staff,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “Everything has been seamless in terms of the transition and making sure the work is getting done that needs to get done. I think Nick’s bringing a great deal of enthusiasm and energy to the role.”

It’s easy to understand why — the White Sox farm system is in need of depth, and they have three picks in the top 49. And while there’s no surefire No. 1 pick in the draft, analysts think there’s plenty of talent to be had. Hostetler is hopeful that the team’s top three picks emerge from a big board of 40 players he and his staff have extensively scouted.

He had several of those players and a bunch of area prep stars, 30 in all, in for a tryout Friday at U.S. Cellular Field in front of the entire front office.

Now that everyone has been scouted, most of the staff is on hand for meetings through Wednesday where they break down video and review each player’s makeup, signability and mix in statistical analysis — “we go over every piece of information on every single player in the draft,” he said.

Hostetler expects meetings from Monday to Wednesday will last up to 11 hours before he gives all his guys a chance to unwind and arrive a little later on Thursday. He’s excited to acquire talent to help the White Sox get back to the postseason for the first time since 2008. And he feels ready for his first time sitting in the big chair.

“We’re ready to add to the organization’s depth and give Rick and those guys pieces that can help them at the big league level,” Hostetler said. “As excited as I am for me personally, I’m as excited for us as a staff for the first one together. Just means a lot to me. I love the camaraderie, I love the togetherness it brings and it’s a team. It’s what I love about it.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries


White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?


As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”