NASHVILLE — The 2015 baseball draft is only six months old and yet it has already produced a major leaguer for the White Sox — sort of.
Same as the Arizona Diamondbacks a day earlier, the White Sox took advantage of a new rule on Wednesday night when they included 2015 draftee Zack Erwin in a deal with the Oakland A’s for infielder Brett Lawrie.
A left-handed pitcher out of Clemson selected in the fourth round, Erwin was traded under a provision recently altered that allows teams to deal first-year pros after the World Series concludes. Prior to the rule change, one enacted after San Diego traded 2014 first-rounder Trea Turner as a player to be named later to Washington last offseason, players had to remain with their drafting club until one year after they signed. Though he was traded last December, Turner remained in the Padres farm system until June 13, a year after he signed his first pro contract. The idea that their most recent draft has already affected the major league roster was a point of emphasis for new White Sox amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler.
"It’s exciting from a standpoint of you realize your draft has immediate impact," Hostetler said. "When you can get an immediate impact out of a draft, you have to entertain it. With a situation like Zack, we liked him, he was our second pick in the draft, he was a major part of our draft. But to know that pick has already turned into a big leaguer, it’s a success. If we already look at the 2015 draft, it helped produce a major league part."
Erwin, who had a combined 1.43 ERA in 40 1/3 innings last season at the Rookie level and Single-A, profiles as a back-end starting pitcher. Because they forfeited their choices in the second and third rounds to sign free agents last December, Erwin actually was the team's second overall pick behind first-rounder Carson Fulmer. But similar to Arizona, which surrendered Dansby Swanson, the first player taken in last June's draft, in the Shelby Miller trade on Tuesday, the White Sox were OK with giving up future potential for an established product. Given they have a handful of very good minor league pitchers, don't rule out the possibility they could do the same with Fulmer were it absolutely necessary.
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General manager Rick Hahn said he's in favor of the rule change.
"It’s good," Hahn said. "Sitting in this chair you want as many assets at your disposal to try to make the team better, and certainly not having to find yourself in an awkward situation where a player is a player to be named later but remains in your system for several months of his development. There’s not only risk, but a level of awkwardness involved in that. So the ability to avoid that is definitely a positive step."