White Sox

White Sox intrigued by Simeon grad, 7th-rounder Blake Hickman

blake-hickman-iowa-0609.png

White Sox intrigued by Simeon grad, 7th-rounder Blake Hickman

A few weeks ago, the White Sox didn’t expect their local protege to make it to pick No. 112, let alone the seventh round.

But after Iowa pitcher Blake Hickman’s velocity dropped and he was roughed up a bit last month, the Simeon graduate and South Side native slipped to the White Sox with pick No. 202 in Tuesday’s MLB Draft.

Thanks to the work of scout J.J. Lally and a longstanding relationship with Hickman, who participated in the White Sox Amateur City Elite program growing up, the organization not only drafted the 6-foot-5 right-hander but also is hopeful he can turn into a solid prospect.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“We’re excited about him,” assistant scouting director Nick Hostetler said. “We think there is a huge projection there. The ACE part of it and him being a local kid was kind of a bonus for us. … We’ve known him forever and when we made the call when he was our pick it sounded like — you would never know he fell somewhat in the draft with his reaction. He was so excited to be here.”

Hickman is a natural catcher/first baseman who transitioned to full-time pitching in 2014, his sophomore year at Iowa. He posted a 3.26 ERA with 86 strikeouts and 65 walks over 118 2/3 collegiate innings (21 starts, 12 relief appearances).

The White Sox see his progress being keyed by the development of his curveball to pair with a fastball Hostetler said has been clocked between 91 and 97 miles per hour.

“The curveball, the breaking ball just has to get tighter, better, and it’s going to happen with time,” Hostetler said. “He’s a young kid and you almost have to treat him like a high school kid as a pitcher because he hasn’t pitched much. The upside is tremendous with his body and arm strength and whatnot. There is a chance that if his curveball comes, he has a chance to be special.”

[MLB DRAFT: Get to know the new selections of the White Sox]

Hickman, who played in the White Sox Double Duty Classic every year from 2008-2011, is the first ACE player to be picked in the first 10 rounds of the MLB Draft. He was drafted by the Cubs in the 20th round out of high school, but that was as a catcher.

As a pitcher, the White Sox like his raw stuff and his makeup. And there’s a hope that someday he could become a true success story, from Englewood to the majors at U.S. Cellular Field.

“He’s a tough kid and a smart kid,” Hostetler said. “When we made the call, ‘Hey Blake, this is the time for you,’ you could tell this is where he wants to be. So it’s exciting for us.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 1

yoan-throws.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 1

We asked you to ask us anything about the White Sox and you delivered in a big way. We got so many questions, we had to do two different podcasts! Among the questions here in Part 1: should the White Sox send Yoan Moncada to Triple-A? What players will be traded before the deadline? Who are some sleeper prospects in the minors? Will Jordan Stephens be called up before Michael Kopech? Should Juan Uribe be a team ambassador? What's our all-time White Sox team from 2000 to the present and many more.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Rick Hahn says 'there will be many' promotions for White Sox prospects this week

eloy-618.jpg
USA TODAY

Rick Hahn says 'there will be many' promotions for White Sox prospects this week

The White Sox have a number of highly-rated prospects performing well in the minors and some of them will be on the move within the system in a matter of days.

General manager Rick Hahn talked to reporters ahead of Monday night's White Sox game in Cleveland, a 6-2 loss, and gave the news. Well, sort of.

He didn't include names, but he did say that "there will be many" promotions after the minor league all-star games for Double-A and both Single-A teams take place on Tuesday.

Hahn added that Chris Getz, the White Sox player development director, will address the media before the White Sox host Oakland on Thursday about the moves.

If the all-star games are a reason to wait, it's safe to think some of the players involved will be playing in those games. So who could be on the move?

Double-A Birmingham has six all-stars: Eloy Jimenez, Zack Collins, Seby Zavala, Danny Mendick, Dane Dunning and Ian Hamilton. Jimenez is the name everyone wants to see on the move. He has torched the Southern League since getting off to a late start to the season due to injury. Hahn was asked about Jimenez, but didn't tip his hand as to whether he would be one of the promotions.

Dunning has been good in Double-A (2.78 ERA, 65 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings), but was already promoted this season so he may not be on the move again.

Single-A Winston-Salem has five all-stars: Dylan Cease, Luis Alexander Basabe, Joel Booker, Bernardo Flores and Matt Foster. Cease, 22, could be due for a promotion with a 2.89 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings. There's also that outfield logjam the Dash, which won the first-half division title, have had all season.

Other than Basabe and Booker, Blake Rutherford and Alex Call are also noteworthy prospects being forced to split time in the Dash's outfield. If Jimenez is moving up to Triple-A, one or two names from this group could be on the move to take his spot in Birmingham.

This would especially make sense if highly-touted outfield prospect Luis Robert, who was supposed to be in Single-A Kannapolis for a short period before joining the Dash, is ready to move up as planned. Robert is hitting .289/.360/.400 in 13 games with the Intimidators.

Birmingham, Winston-Salem and Kannapolis were all off Monday. The various all-star games will take place Tuesday and the three teams will be off again Wednesday. The promotions could be announced Thursday ahead of Getz's scheduled media availability.