Over the next week, we'll be providing sketches of draft prospects who have been tied to the White Sox throughout the process, or would be if they weren't predicted to be off the board before the third pick.
Who is Tyler Kolek?
The "Texas fireballer" is something of a draft cliche, but Kolek brings serious heat from a serious frame. The right-handed pitcher from Shepherd High School is 6'5" and 250 lbs., and he's considered to be the hardest-throwing prospect in recent memory.
How does he rank?
What's his game?
It seems nearly impossible to overstate how hard Kolek throws. It's not just his top-end velocity (he hits triple-digits regularly), but he goes for distance, too. Baseball America's cover story on Kolek said scouts saw him sitting at 97 mph in the seventh inning, and that even his warmup tosses clock in at 95.
But that's not all -- BA's scouting report says his fastball "plays up beyond its pure velocity readings because of its heavy plus life, working downhill with sink," and it should keep batted balls on the ground. He also throws a slider that is a potential plus power pitch (he prefers it over the curve), and a changeup that he never needs.
The consensus on his mechanics is that he repeats his delivery in terms of arm action, but his balance can take him in a couple different directions when following through.
What does he look like?
Why would the White Sox draft him?
He draws comparisons to guys like Stephen Strasburg and Justin Verlander -- except they hit 100 mph in college. Kolek is doing it as an 18-year-old, and with greater regularity. His frame suggests he's built for power pitching, and he uses extension to get the most out of his size and strength. Give him that fastball with movement and sink, and a slider, and that third pitch can take its time. While he might be a man among boys in high school, Texas offers pretty good competition.
Why would the White Sox draft somebody else?
All the normal caveats with a high school pitcher -- years away from the majors even if injuries don't intervene, he has to improve his fastball command and secondary offerings, develop a feel for pitching, so on and so forth.
The Sox don't have a whole lot of experience or success in drafting and developing prep arms. They did use a couple of early picks on Tyler Danish (second round) and Thad Lowry (fifth round) last year. You could take that as a sign of a willingness to invest even more in a teenager this time around -- unless the Sox want a more polished arm in the system after going the prep route last year.
Where's he going in mock drafts?
The first round of mock drafts tied Kolek to the White Sox due to simple logic -- he's one of the three most highly regarded players in the draft, and the Sox picked third. But the most recent versions suggest Kolek could drop a couple spots if a team or two opts for the relative safety of a position player.
- MLB.com: No. 5 (Twins)
- Baseball America: No. 5 (Twins)
- Scout.com: No. 2 (Marlins)
- Keith Law: No. 3 (White Sox)