In the second year of bonus pools for Major League Baseball's June draft, we're seeing the White Sox jumble up their approach a little more. At least on paper, anyway.
We saw that with the interesting -- some might say controversial, but who really knows at this point -- selection of Tyler Danish in the second round. His unorthodox delivery is difficult to ignore, and Keith Law doesn't know what to make of it:
Tyler Danish (No. 55) has the worst arm action I've seen in this draft class: low-slot, max-effort, producing big-time velocity but like no starter (and few good relievers) you've ever seen.
But to Doug Laumann, that was a big part of his allure:
"He’s got kind of an unorthodox delivery and arm action, but I honestly can say that after, this is my 32nd year total, I don’t know that I’ve ever been as intrigued by a player since I’ve been scouting," director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann said.
"Now, sometimes we break down guys and we try to look at arm action, we try to look at size and all this other stuff," Laumann said. "At some point and time, you say to yourself, this kid can flat out pitch. That’s how we felt about him. We had a lot of discussions about him. We looked at films. We did everything we could possibly do and finally just said we are going to go with it."
Whichever way you fall on the Danish pick, he's a far cry from the more traditional, sturdier second-round picks of yore like Erik Johnson. This time around, it certainly looks like the Sox are leaning on their ability to mold arms in order to take on a tougher signability picks later on. In this case, the seventh-round appears to be key.
Let's take a look at how the Sox proceeded in shaping their second day. For Day 3, I'll probably just stick to the interesting signability situations and funny names.
Third round (91): OF Jacob May
5'10", 180 lbs, Coastal Carolina
Rankings: BA (#203)
It didn't take long for family ties to emerge -- Jacob May is the grandson of Lee May, who was the brother of the White Sox's Carlos May. Jacob's game doesn't resemble theirs, and when you read the reports and rankings, the second day of the draft got off to an inauspicious start.
The good: He's a switch-hitter who hit well as a leadoff type at Coastal Carolina (.324/.417/.495), and is considered to have a center-field skill set. However, his defense still needs refinement, and he's rather unpolished in other areas, which you wouldn't think would be the case for a collegiate third-rounder. Despite possessing good speed, he was successful in only 16 of 26 steal attempts. And being an outfielder on the smaller side, his power profile is limited.
But then you see where the Sox went from here, and realize that round number doesn't dictate talent like it used to.
Baseball America: "He's a switch-hitter with more natural ability from the right side, though he needs overall work with the bat. He can be direct to the ball, but he needs to play a smaller game with his speed and 5-foot-10, 185-pound frame."
Keith Law: "May can switch-hit and is a plus runner, with only fair instincts but the raw tools to develop into a solid defender in center who hits for average with a low OBP."
Fourth round (123): RHP Andrew Mitchell
6'3", 205 lbs, TCU
Rankings: BA (#50), MLB.com (#40), Law (#35), Scout.com (#47)
Now here's somebody everybody likes, as Mitchell was a top-50 draftee on four lists. He's listed high on his power stuff alone, as he throws 92-95 mph with a hard breaking ball -- some call it a slider, some call it a curve, but it's in the low 80s and has some dive.
It's just not quite clear if he can hack it as a starter. He was supposed to be the Horned Frogs' closer, but when he faced a lack of important innings, they put him back into the rotation. He fared well enough there (3.49 ERA, 57 strikeouts over 49 innings), but his command needs work (33 walks, 10 HBP), especially when it comes to a changeup.
Besides stuff, the outlets say that he uses more arm than body in his three-quarter delivery, which makes it seem unlikely that he could maintain his stuff over 100 pitches without changes to his delivery. Doug Laumann likes his foundation.
"We've had a little bit of success with guys with stuff," White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann said. "He's been up to 95-96 [mph] and he has a tremendous curveball. The control issues, we feel that our player development people can go in and get those guys straightened out."
As for the other outlets:
BA: "His stuff plays up and he's more aggressive as a reliever, and he could make an impact as a closer in the majors."
Law: "Seems like a steal in the fourth round, used in relief and as a starter at TCU, with two pitches and the velocity to start, but lacking the third pitch or the command for it right now."
Fifth round (153): RHP Thaddius Lowry
6'4", 205 lbs. Spring Hill (Texas) HS
Rankings: BA (#264)
The coolest name so far, Lowry was on track to be a catcher, but then he was able to hit 96 mph and that forced a switch. He worked around 90 right now with a slurvy slider, but he's so new to pitching that projecting the development of his stuff and whether he can start looks more like guesswork than usual.
BA: "He has settled in at 88-89 mph with his heater with a below-average breaking ball. He also throws a splitter. Given his inexperience, it's no surprise that Lowry is raw and developing consistency in all facets of pitching."
Law: "Stiff arm swing that resembles a catcher's release, but is at least 91-95 with some depth on his slurvy slider; I can't imagine he turns into more than a reliever without a mechanical overhaul."
MLB.com: "Lowry has excellent size for a right-hander. That and his inexperience on the mound lead scouts to think he will be able to sustain higher velocity down the road as he gets more comfortable as a pitcher."
Sixth round (183): RHP James Dykstra
6'4", 200 lbs, Cal State San Marcos
Rankings: BA (NR)
He's not related to Lenny, but to 2008 Padres first-round pick Allan (brother). Besides that, he seems to be something of a collegiate nomad, due to playing time shortages and transfer restrictions. He ended up at the NAIA level, where he dominated as a junior. After going undrafted last year, he did it again, on the strength of a 90-93 mph fastball with excellent command.
BA: "His aggressive approach and fringy secondary stuff makes him a good fit in a professional bullpen. His offspeed stuff has improved this year—his split-finger and breaking ball are both serviceable."
Seventh round (213): 3B Trey Michalczewski
6'3", 210 lbs, Jenks (Tulsa) HS
Rankings: BA (#81); Law (#83)
Here's somebody the Sox might be saving up for. Michalczewski plays a respectable shortstop now, but considering his size and strength (he's also a tight end on his school's football team), he's projected to move to third, which is fine for his arm. He's a switch-hitter with a reined-in swing and approach, and there's power potential with it.
BA: "He's content to drive the ball from gap to gap for now, with more home runs to come once he turns on more pitches."
ESPN.com: "His right-handed swing is very rotational and simple, with quick hand acceleration after a quiet load and just a little drift over his front side. His left-handed swing is longer and less fluid, although he still has adequate bat control and gets some loft in his finish."
MLB.com: "He has a good approach at the plate and his bat speed allows him to let the ball get deep in the strike zone before starting to swing."
Eighth round (243): LHP Chris Freudenberg
6'3", 195 lbs. South Mountain (Tucson) CC
Ranking: BA (#244)
The only prospect whose BA ranking matches his draft position, and the lone lefty of the six pitchers selected thus far, Freudenberg enjoyed and suffered from his breakout season -- he pitched so well that he pitched as a starter and relief, and wore down from the workload. His fastball teeters on 90, with a working cutter and curve, but needs to improve command and his changeup to be seen as a starter. There's apparently still some physical growing left to do, too.
BA: "While he is working to command his fastball and will need to learn a changeup, Freudenberg profiles as a workhorse, middle-of-the-rotation starter."
MLB.com: "He throws in the upper-80s to low-90s with a clean, easy arm action."
Ninth round (273): RHP Nick Blount
6'6", 225 lbs, Southern Polytechnic State (Atlanta)
Blount spent his first three collegiate seasons at Tennessee, but never got on track before he was kicked off the team in April of 2012. He ended up at the NAIA level, where he posted a 2.74 ERA with 60 strikeouts over 42⅔ innings. He's big and throws a sinker, and the Sox will see if they can work with that.
BA: "At his best, he's an 88-91 mph sinkerballer who throws a lot of strikes, and he throws a slider and changeup for strikes, though both are below-average."
MLB.com: "Coming out of high school, he was ranked the No. 16 overall prospect and No. 9 pitching prospect from the state of Georgia."
10th round (303): RHP Brad Goldberg
6'4", 235 lbs, Ohio State
Rankings: BA (#444)
The sixth pitcher, the fifth right-hander, and the second player with Coastal Carolina ties, Goldberg transfered from there to Ohio State, and it cost him quite a bit of playing time. He missed the 2011 season because of transfer rules, then was declared academically ineligible for 2012 because some of his credits didn't transfer. He's got a low-90s fastball and a slider to work with, and so he's on a relief track.
MLB.com: "Goldberg's slider has only improved as an out pitch. It shows good tilt and sits in the 82-84-mph range. His best pitch, however, is his fastball, which can reach the mid-90s and usually sits between 89-92 mph."
BA: "Goldberg lacks deception and doesn't miss a lot of bats, but the heavy sink on his fastball induces groundballs. His slider has its moments but lacks consistency, as does his command."