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 Talk Podcast: Future looking bright for White Sox rotation

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USA Today

White Sox Talk Podcast: Future looking bright for White Sox rotation

Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber take a look at the young guns in the White Sox starting rotation (Giolito, Lopez and Cease) who are coming off their best week together as a trio and why they are excited about the future (1:00). Ivan Nova has a lower ERA than some of the best pitchers in baseball. Seriously. (5:20). The competition going on behind the scenes with the starting rotation (6:40). What will the rotation look like in 2020? (13:00) and more.

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

White Sox Talk Podcast

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With young arms dealing, Reynaldo Lopez sets high expectations for White Sox rotation in 2020

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USA TODAY

With young arms dealing, Reynaldo Lopez sets high expectations for White Sox rotation in 2020

The White Sox starting rotation of the future won’t be complete until Michael Kopech returns from Tommy John surgery. It won’t be complete until Rick Hahn’s front office is done shopping this winter.

But what the team’s young pitchers, the ones throwing right now at the major league level, have done of late has to have everyone feeling good about the starting staff’s prospects in 2020.

Lucas Giolito called his most recent outing, a shutout of the high-powered Minnesota Twins, the “best I’ve ever felt pitching in my life.” Dylan Cease settled down nicely after some early struggles against the Texas Rangers on Friday and called his performance the best he’s had as a big leaguer. Reynaldo Lopez had to leave Sunday’s outing after just five innings, his days-old sickness a little too much to handle, but he didn’t allow a single hit before his departure.

All in all — and that includes recent strong showings from veterans Ivan Nova and Ross Detwiler, too — the rotation has a 2.09 ERA in the last seven games, five of which have ended in White Sox victories.

“We’re excited,” Lopez said through team interpreter Billy Russo after Sunday’s game. “This is a very, very exciting moment for all of us and for the organization.

“I think the expectations that you can have right now and that we have right now for the future are really, really high because we all know what we’re capable of doing. And if we’re just doing it right now, then it’s going to be just part of the process, just continuing doing what we’re doing right now.

“The learning process for all of us, for the young guys, has been outstanding. I think all of us have been learning a lot outing by outing and just putting those lessons on the field, too. It’s not just learning and, ‘OK, yes, learning this today and going to apply it in a week.’ No, you need to apply it right away and we’ve been doing that.

“I think you can see the results and for us as a group, it’s a very good moment.”

To those not so sure, there are perfectly valid reasons to be skeptical about the makeup of the 2020 rotation.

Lopez has been terrific since the All-Star break, his second-half ERA down to 2.82 after the five scoreless innings Sunday, but that doesn’t erase the woeful 6.34 number he had in the first half.

Cease has shown what everyone, including manager Rick Renteria, calls “electric stuff,” but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s got a 5.76 ERA and has allowed a homer in all nine starts he’s made since his promotion.

Giolito has been an ace but will have to show that his transformation from the guy who gave up more earned runs than any pitcher in baseball in 2018 into an All Star is permanent.

Kopech’s next start will be just his fifth as a big leaguer and will come, at the earliest, nearly 19 months after his fourth. And while the White Sox remain confident, there’s no telling, until we see him in action, what kind of pitcher he is following the surgery.

And though Hahn has pledged aggressiveness this offseason, we don’t know what kind of pitcher the White Sox will be able to add this winter.

But all that can be effectively countered by what’s happening right now before our eyes.

“They continue to mature, grow, learn,” Renteria said. “It's not necessarily the outcomes, even though you want those good outcomes to occur. It's what they're feeling in terms of what they believe they're capable of doing in certain moments. They're starting to trust themselves a little bit more and able to execute and get through games.”

No matter what the White Sox front office does this offseason, it figures to have four 2020 rotation spots spoken for: Giolito, Lopez, Cease and Kopech. That’s 80 percent of a rotation made up of homegrown arms, or if you’re a stickler on the definition of “homegrown,” guys acquired in those rebuild-jumpstarting trades in 2016 and 2017.

With Giolito and Lopez dealing of late and Cease getting positive reviews while going through his learning process in his first taste of the major leagues, Lopez’s words ring true. There should be excitement and high expectations for next season. These young arms and what they’re doing right now, not hypothetically but in reality, is part of what makes a transition from rebuilding to contending in 2020 look possible.

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