White Sox

Sox thinking long-term with Hawkins

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Sox thinking long-term with Hawkins

The White Sox were, by most accounts, expected to take a college player -- likely a pitcher -- with the No. 13 pick in Monday's edition of the MLB Draft. They did just that two years ago, and that player wound up throwing a complete game on Sunday against Seattle.

It had been 11 years since the White Sox last selected a high school player with their first draft pick, although Kris Honel never panned out. The last high school position player the Sox took was catcher Mark Johnson all the way back in 1994. Safe to say, few had the White Sox picking Courtney Hawkins at No. 13.

But White Sox scouting director Doug Laumann wanted it that way. He said the White Sox had been interested in Hawkins for a while, and the interest was mutual. Hawkins played in last year's Double-Duty Classic at U.S. Cellular Field and knew some members of the organization prior to being announced as the team's pick.

"Oh, man, it's amazing," Hawkins said of being tabbed by the White Sox. "Coming out here to New York, getting invited for the first-round player draft, being called by the White Sox after playing there, being there, meeting all the personnel before, it's amazing, and knowing that you're one of the best 13 in the country, it feels pretty good."

Hawkins is incredibly athletic -- as he showed with his somewhat-infamous backflip on the MLB Network draft set -- and, like Chris Sale two years ago, was expected to be selected a little higher than he was. Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein called Hawkins' drop "mysterious," which sounds an awful lot like Sale's odd tumble in 2010.

Sale, of course, came up and helped the White Sox in 2010, serving as a lights-out reliever. Still a teenager, Hawkins won't follow that path. In fact, by the time Hawkins may be ready for the majors, Sale will be an established veteran -- or, if Hawkins' development takes a little longer, ready to hit free agency.

While the Sox farm system is widely regarded as being among the worst in baseball, the organization does have the luxury of waiting for Hawkins to develop thanks to a decent crop of young outfielders.

Jared Mitchell has come around with Double-A Birmingham, entering Tuesday with a .417 on-base percentage in 55 games. He's still at least a year away from the majors and has a major hurdle to climb in Triple-A all while working on cutting down his strikeouts, but the 2009 first-round pick has done everything in his power to restore faith in his potential.

Keenyn Walker, the Sox first pick in 2011, similarly needs to cut down on his strikeouts but has posted a fine .370 OBP with Single-A Kannapolis in his first full processional season. The news isn't as good for Trayce Thompson, a 2009 high school draftee, who has struggled in his first year with High-A Winston-Salem, hitting only six home runs with a .312 OBP in 52 games.

But with Hawkins and Keon Barnum -- who Laumann expects to remain at first base but may get a trial in left or right field at some point -- the Sox not only have depth in the outfield, they have talent. That talent doesn't always play out, as those who are quick to point out Joe Borchard and Brian Anderson will say.

The Sox still need organizational depth in the middle infield, and given the volatile nature of pitching prospects, there's no such thing as too many arms in a farm system. But most of all, the Sox just need good players developing in the minor leagues.

If all goes right, Hawkins will fill that need.

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

The 2017-18 baseball offseason continues to be, well, the 2017-18 baseball offseason, even with spring training games being played in Arizona and Florida.

A bunch of names remain on the free-agent market, including All-Star players who thought they would be in for big multi-year contracts. But as teams continue to deny the wishes of guys who expected to get big deals, the suggestion that those players might end up needing to take one-year offers if they want to play during the 2018 season is becoming a more common talking point.

So with potential bargains to be had for some pretty big-name players, do the White Sox jump into the waters and try to lock up a potential future piece on the cheap? Though they aren’t expected to contend this season, the White Sox have been mentioned in a pair of recent reports surrounding a pair of All-Star position players: Mike Moustakas and Carlos Gonzalez.

MLB.com's Jon Morosi wrote last week that the White Sox are a potential fit for Moustakas, who has sat and watched as former Kansas City Royals teammate Eric Hosmer received a huge contract from the San Diego Padres. Moustakas set a new Royals record last season with 38 home runs but has yet to find a team.

The White Sox, connected to Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado earlier this offseason, seem to have a current big leaguer or highly ranked prospect locked into almost every position on the diamond for the foreseeable future, but third base isn't necessarily one of them. Jake Burger was last year’s top draft pick, though there’s speculation he could slide over to first base. The team still envisions him as a big league third baseman, for what it’s worth.

Moustakas is 29 and already has seven big league seasons under his belt, including a pair of All-Star appearances and a pair of trips to the World Series, including the Crowns’ championship back in 2015. His 38 homers and 85 RBIs in 2017 were both career highs. He slashed .272/.314/.521, the final of those three numbers the best mark of his career.

Moustakas has rarely hit for average or reached base at too high a clip, though those recent power numbers would be intriguing at a hitter-friendly park like Guaranteed Rate Field, where he has 10 career dingers, 26 career RBIs and a .249/.308/.456 career slash line as a visitor.

Certainly Moustakas would be a buzz-worthy addition, and if the White Sox could get him for a good value thanks to this slow-moving market, that adds incentive to bring him aboard. A short contract would have even more incentive for the rebuilding White Sox, who would have the option to either sign him to a long-term deal or deal him away in a deadline deal depending on his immediate production levels.

But for fans hoping the White Sox will spend big on a third baseman in one of the next two offseasons — Machado is a free agent next winter, and Colorado Rockies star Nolan Arenado is set to hit the market the winter after next — slotting in an outside addition at the hot corner now could impact those plans.

Gonzalez is a completely different story, a three-time All Star during his 10-year big league career who is just three seasons removed from a 40-homer campaign in 2015. The 32-year-old Gonzalez also has a trio of Gold Gloves to go along with his 215 career home runs. FanRag’s Jon Heyman listed the White Sox as a possible landing spot for CarGo this weekend.

But his walk year in Colorado was not a very good one by his standards. In 136 games for a Rockies team that ended up in the playoffs, he slashed .262/.339/.423, all those averages way down from his usual level of production. And his power numbers plummeted to 14 homers and 57 RBIs after he combined for 65 homers and 197 RBIs in 2015 and 2016.

The good news for the White Sox is that down year makes Gonzalez far more affordable. Should he command only a one-year contract, the White Sox could take a flier, stick him in the outfield — which still has an unresolved spot with few strong offensive options for center field — and trade him should he bounce back in a big way. Or, at 32, perhaps he’s a guy the White Sox could opt to keep around should he prove valuable and the rebuild continues to move along ahead of schedule.

Gonzalez seems the less risky move at this point, as Moustakas could still be looking for a multi-year contract. But the White Sox have plenty of financial flexibility and flexibility in their decision-making should they add either guy and he proves worthy of a midseason deal or a long-term look.

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

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USA TODAY

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.