White Sox

When They Were Prospects: Jack McDowell

When They Were Prospects: Jack McDowell

“The kid’s got a good fastball, and that’s something you can’t teach. We even come from the same hometown, Van Nuys [Calif.]... And you can’t beat those guys from Van Nuys.”

That quote came from Hall of Famer Don Drysdale after Jack McDowell’s MLB Debut. That MLB Debut, which came on Sept. 15, 1987 was a few months after he was the winning pitcher for Stanford in the College World Series title game. 

And that performance in the College World Series was a few days after he was drafted 5th overall by the White Sox in the 1987 MLB Draft.

McDowell was the first player from the 1987 Draft to reach the Majors, and he did so after posting a 6.51 ERA in 27.2 innings in a quick minor league stint. Once he reached Chicago, he posted a 1.93 ERA in 28 Major League innings. 

He pitched at a league average level in 1988, then spent 1989 in the minors. He returned in 1990 to post the first of four consecutive (would have been five if not for the shortened 1994 season) 200+ inning seasons, the last of which was his 1993 Cy Young season.

1993 was the third consecutive season for McDowell with at least 10 complete games; nobody has done that since. Perhaps nobody will ever do it again given the current state of pitching. McDowell’s peripherals show that his 1994 season was of similar quality to his 1993, despite a 10-9 record and 3.73 ERA (he sported a 125 ERA+ in both seasons). 

A rocky relationship between McDowell and the White Sox ended with a trade to the Yankees, where he was best known for “saluting” the Yankee Stadium crowd (after allowing 13 hits and 9 runs to the White Sox, no less). He wrapped up his MLB career with a pair of seasons in Cleveland followed by two more in Anaheim.

[MORE WHEN THEY WERE PROSPECTS: Ron KittleMagglio OrdonezHarold BainesJose Abreu

Jack McDowell’s legacy is being the ace of some really good White Sox teams in the early 1990s. Could he have pitched the Sox to a title in 1994? We’ll never know.

He was the first of a nearly-unparallelled four year run of first round draft picks by the White Sox -- McDowell, Ventura, Thomas and Fernandez.

He’ll always be “Black Jack” to the Southside faithful.

Good news for White Sox: Yankees seem to be out on Bryce Harper

Good news for White Sox: Yankees seem to be out on Bryce Harper

LAS VEGAS — If the Bryce Harper sweepstakes is the baseball version of a tour through Willy Wonka's factory, the New York Yankees might have just fallen in a chocolate river.

The Washington Nationals already turned into a giant blueberry or whatever, with owner Mark Lerner saying he doesn't think Harper's returning to the nation's capital after playing the first seven years of his big league career there.

And now the Yankees are perhaps off the tour, as well, with general manager Brian Cashman telling reporters at the Winter Meetings that his team's outfield might just be too crowded, adding that moving Harper to first base (not the first time that's been mentioned this offseason, by the way) isn't an option, either.

How out on Harper are the Yankees? Cashman is apparently surprised it's even still a topic of conversation.

More on Manny Machado in a second, but the Yankees bowing out can only be good news for the White Sox when it comes to Harper. While the rebuilding White Sox have the seemingly tall task of convincing Harper to buy into plans of a bright future on the heels of a 100-loss season, the Yankees seemed to have the best selling point: joining up with a 100-win team that could start a new dynasty tomorrow. Well, maybe the White Sox no longer have to worry about that kind of competition.

Of course, it's not a surprise to hear the Yankees engaged on Machado, who looks like a perfect fit for the Bronx Bombers. Machado could slide in nicely as the starting shortstop while Didi Gregorius recovers from Tommy John surgery. So the White Sox, also reported to still be in Machado, perhaps haven't completely shaken the Yankees as competition for one of the top players in baseball.

But when it comes to Harper, the Yankees not being in the running seems to only help the South Siders' chances.

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Is it possible the White Sox don't have much competition in Manny Machado derby?

Is it possible the White Sox don't have much competition in Manny Machado derby?

LAS VEGAS — Is it possible there aren't many teams vying for Manny Machado?

Machado is one of the two biggest names on this winter's free-agent market, and though he might have ruffled some feathers with some now-infamous comments about his distaste for hustling, that wasn't expected to have such an impact that the four-time All Star, two-time Gold Glover and three-time top-10 MVP finisher would be left with relatively few options.

Whether or not that's why, it's being reported that the market for Machado isn't too big, which could be really good news for the White Sox and their pursuit of one of the best players in the game.

Fancred's Jon Heyman tweeted Monday that the White Sox are one of three known teams in the running for Machado, with three other "mystery teams" in the mix, too. That's still only six teams, though, with the added bonus that "the market is limited."

Now just because there might not be that many teams competing for Machado doesn't mean that competition won't be stiff. The Phillies, remember, have promised to "spend stupid" this offseason and apparently are more in on him than they are on Bryce Harper, the other biggest name on this year's market who the White Sox are also reportedly interested in. And Machado makes a heck of a lot of sense for the Yankees, who need a shortstop while Didi Gregorius recovers from Tommy John surgery.

Like they would with Harper, the White Sox would have to not only be willing to hand out one of the biggest contracts in baseball history but they'd also have to get Machado to buy into their plans of future success and the incredible amount of minor league talent in the organization. That seems like a challenge in the face of win-now pitches from teams like the Phillies and Yankees, but general manager Rick Hahn is convinced it's an attractive pitch.

Unlike Harper, though, Machado presents a couple intriguing questions when it comes to his fit on the South Side. First, would the White Sox have to shuffle their infield in order to find a place for Machado? He's stated his preference for playing shortstop, one of the few places on the big league roster the White Sox already have a long-term piece in Tim Anderson. Would Anderson need to move to make room for Machado? Or would Machado be convinced to play third base, where he owns a pair of Gold Gloves? Second, given those comments about hustling, how would Machado fit into Rick Renteria's "don't quit" culture? Renteria made a habit of benching players last season for not running out ground balls, pop ups and line outs, and you'd have to think Machado would suffer the same fate should that hypothetical situation arise.

Regardless, Machado would be a no-brainer of a long-term centerpiece for the rebuilding White Sox. He's just 26 years old and one of the most productive hitters in the game coming off a career year that featured a .297/.367/.538 slash line with 37 home runs and 107 RBIs, not to mention a trip to the World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. When it comes to the much-discussed premium talent that aligns with the long-term plans on the South Side, it's hard to find a better one than Machado or Harper.

And now maybe the chances he comes to the White Sox look better, what with this small group of competitors.

One other thing to add: It's possible a Machado decision might not come for a while. As teams are reportedly flocking to Las Vegas to meet with Harper, Machado will reportedly take a more methodical approach and visit teams in their cities.

So buckle up. The Machado derby rolls on.

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