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.”