With the MLB draft three weeks away, the mock drafts are beginning to roll in with some semblance of conviction. This is usually when I start my reading on the subject, because I prefer waiting until there's a firmer pool of possibilities to sift through.
The early impression is that it's the same impression. The evaluators and outlets are running with the White Sox's traditional love of toolsy outfielders, with a nod toward pitchers who can be pushed. But with Rick Hahn at the helm for the first time, it'll be interesting to see if the Sox end up defying their profile with the 17th-overal pick when June 6 rolls around.
The pundits are betting against it. Let's run down the recently published mock drafts from the usual sources and see who is tagged as a White Sox possibility at this stage.
17) Chicago White Sox: Phillip Ervin, OF, Samford University: The White Sox like tools, power, and outfielders, so Ervin seems logical to me. If they go for pitching, someone like Jonathan Crawford, Bobby Wahl, or Aaron Blair from the college ranks could be an affordable college pick who could move quickly.
In his first mock draft back in March, Sickels had the Sox passing up Ervin for:
18) Chicago White Sox (Sickels): The White Sox often march to their own drummer draft wise, but with a new GM in place it remains to be seen if the philosophy will change. Rick Hahn was already in the organization as one of Ken Williams' top assistants, of course, so maybe nothing much will change. Samford University outfielder Phil Ervin offers one of the best bats at the college level and is off to a good start this spring. On the other hand, the system is short on pitching and could use some starters. Lively high school arms are still available here, but there are also college options who could move rapidly. I think I'll go with fast-rising University of Jacksonville right-hander Chris Anderson, who has pushed into first-round consideration with a plus fastball/slider combination. Chris Anderson, RHP, University of Jacksonville
Keith Law published his mock draft at ESPN.com today, and Anderson is his man:
Analysis: I've also heard the White Sox linked to Gonzaga lefty Marco Gonzales, although this seems a little early for him.
He has Gonzales going to the Tampa Bay Rays with the 29th overall pick.
MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo has the Sox going in the toolsy outfielder direction.
17. Chicago White Sox: Hunter Renfroe, OF, Mississippi State
This college outfielder has been moving up the charts of late, so he might not be around when this spot comes up, but he fits the profile of the toolsy kind of player the White Sox seem to covet.
And that's with Anderon and Ervin still available. For that matter, those two are taken immediately after the White Sox make their pick in SI.com's mock draft, with the Sox selecting:
17. Dominic Smith, 1B, Serra High (Calif.)
The sabermetric revolution has yet to reach the White Sox' South Side offices. Scouting traditionalists, Chicago could land Smith, the purest high school hitter in this year's draft.
The names start repeating themselves from this point on on less reputable sites -- or, at least sites I'm not familiar with. But there is one exception, and it's a pretty formidable one: Baseball America's Jim Callis:
17. WHITE SOX: Chicago used its top choice on athletic outfielders in 2009 (Jared Mitchell), 2011 (Keenyn Walker) and 2012 (Courtney Hawkins), and could go that route again with Stanford’s Austin Wilson or Fresno State’s Aaron Judge, who have massive power potential and two of the best bodies in the draft. Sox executive Ken Williams is a former Cardinal outfielder himself.
PROJECTED PICK: AUSTIN WILSON.
Given that the Sox are in the midst of revamping their entire approach to building a farm system, it seems somewhat counterintuitive to roll the dice on maintaining the status quo. But these are subject to change, and we may see some names change places as teams show interest where they hadn't before. For instance:
Sox scouting director Doug Laumann was headed Thurs AM to Natchitoches, La., where Oral Roberts RHP Alex Gonzalez k 13 in 8 inn.— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) May 17, 2013