White Sox

White Sox in ideal spot as amateur draft nears

White Sox in ideal spot as amateur draft nears

The White Sox are in an ideal spot, competing right now and yet still building for the future.

The team heads into June’s amateur draft with all its picks — including one received after Jeff Samardzija departed via free agency — despite adding nine new players and pursuing several high-profile free agents this winter.

Off to a 23-12 start and in first place in the American League Central, the White Sox possess the 10th, 26th and 49th selections in the draft, which will be held from June 9 to June 11.

They would have sacrificed their second pick to reel in Alex Gordon, but he opted to stay with the Kansas City Royals, and the White Sox found alternatives.

Though this is exactly how he preferred it, first-year amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler swears no voodoo was involved. But he also made it clear to general manager Rick Hahn early in the offseason he hoped the team could field its roster without sacrificing the future.

“I actually told Rick I don’t want to know,” Hostetler said with a laugh. “I told him, ‘I’ll find out on Twitter, which is better for me.’ I didn’t want to be a part of it. I was totally honest with him — if they asked me my opinion of the player, I was going to be completely jaded and biased. I wasn’t going to like anybody.

“Having that extra pick puts us in play for some other guys that quite honestly ... we wouldn’t have had a chance.”

The opportunity to make an additional pick — and the extra $2 million in the bonus pool that comes with it — only arrived after a series of close calls. The White Sox pursued Gordon and Yoenis Cespedes down to the bitter end only to see them go back to the Royals and New York Mets, respectively. There was also talk in February about potentially signing Ian Desmond to fill the vacancy at shortstop.

Gordon and Desmond would have meant the team surrendered the 26th pick.

But none of the moves came together. Hostetler swears he didn’t use hypnosis, nor does he possess voodoo dolls representing Hahn, Kenny Williams or chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

Hahn was willing to forfeit the pick for the right player.

Yet the club moved on and filled in some of its biggest holes with players who didn’t cost draft picks: Jimmy Rollins, Austin Jackson and Mat Latos.

“For us, the ideal scenario was to be able to win in Chicago while continuing to build our minor league system in a way that enhanced our chances for sustained success,” Hahn said. “Certainly, having three picks in the top 49 goes a long way towards helping that latter part happen.

“Since winning in Chicago is the No. 1 priority, we would have sacrificed the comp pick if the right deal was available this past off season. Given the start we've had and the fact that we kept the pick, we're arguably in position to potentially serve both of those goals.”

The additional money in the team’s draft bonus pool is equally as big as the pick.

Last year’s slotted amount for the 26th pick was $2,034,500. That’s $2 million extra to pour into a system that didn’t have a second- or third-round pick in 2015 (compensation for signing David Robertson and Melky Cabrera) and surrendered its fourth-round pick (Zack Erwin) in the Brett Lawrie trade.

The farm system has good talent up top in Tim Anderson and Carson Fulmer. But trades for Samardzija, Todd Frazier and Lawrie have hurt the system’s depth.

The extra money could come in handy if a player with signability issues falls to the White Sox at No. 10 or at No. 26. Even though there’s no consensus No. 1 pick, Hostetler said the top 10 to 12 picks include premium talent that potentially could join the team’s core group within two seasons. He also notes the White Sox are heavily scouting the top 10 to 12 players because nobody knows who will end up where.

“It’s that type of year,” Hostetler said. “The first 10 to 12 guys are pretty lumped together.”

As of now, the team’s board for their top two selections includes a group of 35 to 40 players, Hostetler said. That figure has grown by about 10 players over the last month. Hostetler is actually hopeful the team’s first three selections come from the pool.

“We’d have to have some pretty bad luck if they don’t,” Hostetler said. “One of the most exciting things for this year is we’ve got so much financial flexibility that we needed to expand our board more, we needed more options for 10 and 26 just because when we’re comparing all these, seeing where we can allocate money.”

Hostetler said enthusiasm for the team’s start is rampant throughout the organization. He hears it when he reports to Hahn, Williams or Buddy Bell. It's also present when he talks to his scouts.

He would have signed off on the addition of a Gordon or a Cespedes because winning is the goal. But Hostetler likes his current position better — and that he didn’t have to resort dark magic to get it done.

Quite honestly the biggest thing we stress for is, at the end of the day, if the best thing for this club was to give away that pick for a player, if it ultimately resulted in putting a diamond ring on the finger in October or November, I could live with it,” Hostetler said.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Memories of Old Comiskey Park

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AP

White Sox Talk Podcast: Memories of Old Comiskey Park

For many White Sox fans, Comiskey Park was their introduction to White Sox baseball when they were young. Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey, and Chris Kamka share their memories of the old ballpark. Among them: Chuck talks about seeing Al Cowens charge Ed Farmer on the mound in 1980 creating a bench clearing brawl, Ryan tells the story about catching a Mike Greenwell foul ball, Chuck talks about being there for the 1983 All-Star Game, they discuss the final game ever played there and read favorite memories sent in by White Sox fans.

You can listen to the whole thing right here, or in the embedded player below.

8:26 - Chuck talks about seeing Al Cowens charge Ed Farmer on the mound in 1980 creating a bench clearing brawl.

10:11 - Ryan tells the story about catching a Mike Greenwell foul ball.

12:49 - Chuck talks about being there for the 1983 All-Star Game

15:11 - The guys talk about the final game ever played there.

16:44 - The guys read favorite memories sent in by White Sox fans.

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'White Sox to the Letter'

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AP

'White Sox to the Letter'

Inspired by Ogden Nash’s 1949 poem “A Lineup for Yesterday”

 

A is for A.J.

Once punched in the face

If strike three ain’t caught

He’ll steal first base

 

B is for Baines

Who’s known to speak gently

When asked if he’ll homer

He said, “Evidently!”

 

C for Comiskey

The old baseball yard

When it was torn down

I took it quite hard

 

D is for Donkey

I mean Adam Dunn

He’d strike out or walk

Or hit a home run

 

E is for Eloy

He isn’t here yet

Though an All-Star career

Is still a good bet

 

F is for Fisk

The incomparable Pudge

From his perch behind home

Not an inch he would budge

 

G is for Gold

G is for Glove

Aparicio is

Who I’m thinking of

 

H is for Hawk

Unforgettable voice

Stretch! Dadgummit!

And don’t stop now boys!

 

I for Iguchi

Second base man

Won World Series

Returned to Japan

 

J is for Jackson

The legend still grows

A home run or touchdown

Only Bo knows

 

K is for Kopech

Speed, he has plenty

He’ll pile up strikeouts

In two thousand twenty

 

L is for Luke

Old Aches and Pains

Hit .388

That record remains

 

M is for Mark

As in Mister Buehrle

When he takes the mound

The game will end early

 

N is for no-no

Wilson Alvarez, Humber

Two by Mark Buehrle

Too many to number

 

O for Orestes

Miñoso’s real name

Not in the Hall

And that’s a real shame

 

P is for Paulie

He gave it his all

At the championship rally

Gave Jerry the ball

 

Q for Quintana

Kept coming up short

Only because

Of no run support

 

R is for Richie

But please call him Dick

A dangerous man

When he’s swinging the stick

 

S is for shoes

Which were not worn by Joe

In 1919

Please say it ain’t so

 

T is for Thomas

Amazing career

He went to the Hall

And brewed Big Hurt Beer

 

U for Uribe

He played everywhere

When the ball left his bat

Hands waved in the air

 

V is for Veeck

He knew how to sell

Fireworks, promotions

And Eddie Gaedel

 

W is for William

Or Bill; He was Beltin’

So hot was the corner

Third baseman was Melton

 

X is for Fox

At least the last letter

Among second basemen

Nobody was better

 

Y is for Yolmer

He has sneaky power

The master of giving

A Gatorade shower

 

Z is for Zisk

And others I missed

Unable to fit

In my White Sox list