The White Sox made a change at the top of their amateur-scouting department Wednesday, promoting Nick Hostetler from his role as the director of amateur scouting to a new position as a special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn.
In his role as director of amateur scouting, Hostetler was in charge of the last four White Sox drafts, ones that brought in first-round picks Zack Collins, Zack Burdi, Jake Burger, Nick Madrigal and Andrew Vaughn.
It’s obviously premature to judge his tenure in the role, with all of those players — and the others he was responsible for selecting in the myriad rounds that followed each year — still in the minor leagues. Collins is the only one of that five-player group to get a taste of the major leagues, though that taste was a brief one that featured sporadic playing time and little in the way of offensive success. Burdi and Burger have seen their pro careers dominated by injuries.
Meanwhile, Madrigal and Vaughn look like two incredibly important pieces of the White Sox future and could be fixtures of the team’s lineup for years to come once they reach the big leagues. Madrigal is tearing it up at Double-A Birmingham, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him on the major league roster in the early portion of the 2020 campaign, while Vaughn is off to a nice start at Class A Kannapolis and could fly through the system if his bat is advanced as Hostetler described it as being on draft night in June.
Hostetler’s promotion comes with a focus on pro scouting, and it could point to a shifting focus for the organization as the rebuild looks to transition into a sustained period of contention. Beginning as soon as this offseason, the White Sox could look to add some big-time talent from outside the organization, searching for the type of impact they hoped to acquire last winter in Manny Machado. A positive-filled first half of the 2019 season points to a 2020 campaign that could feature a playoff-caliber group on the South Side, adding importance to the front office’s activity this winter and beyond.
Though the White Sox will still have a chance to add a good player to their long-term planning in next summer’s draft, an improved win-loss record this season means they likely won’t be picking in the top five again, lessening the importance of nailing the pick, as Hostetler seemed to do, given the limited information we have to this point, with Madrigal (No. 4 in 2018) and Vaughn (No. 3 in 2019). Therefore even greater importance will be placed on trades and free-agent signings, which with a focus on pro scouting, Hostetler would figure to have a hand in to some degree.
Of course, the draft remains important in the sustainability of any White Sox success over the long term, and the team emphasized that it's moving quickly to fill Hostetler's old job.
While this move won’t be the talk of the fan base like the import of a major free agent might be this winter would be, it could be just as descriptive when it comes to the evolving state of the franchise.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.