The White Sox will promote 2010 first-round pick Chris Sale to the majors on Wednesday. When he makes his debut roughly two months after he was drafted 13th overall, he'll have sped to the big leagues quicker than any draftee since 2003 Reds first-rounder Ryan Wagner. Wagner made his first appearance for Cincinnati on July 19, 2003.
Sale was the first or second college pitcher on most clubs' draft boards, but he slid until the 13th pick because of questions about his signability. Chicago owner Jerry Reinsdorf takes pride in rarely having his club exceed MLB's bonus recommendations, and Sale opted to sign quickly for slot money ($1.656 million) in return for getting a chance to join the big league bullpen this season. The White Sox are expected to develop the lefthander as a starter next year.
The top prospect in the Cape Cod League last summer, Sale went 11-0, 2.01 with 146 strikeouts in 103 innings as a junior at Florida Gulf Coast this spring. He made 11 relief appearances in the minors, four at high Class A Winston-Salem and seven at Triple-A Charlotte, with a 2.61 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 10 innings.
When Chris Sale started to slide in the first round of the draft because of signability, it was a surprise that the thrifty White Sox were the team that selected him. Now comes a bigger surprise: the first- or second-rated college pitcher on most draft boards has agreed to terms for a bonus equal to MLB's bonus recommendation for his No. 13 slot a year ago: $1.656 million.
Sale will take a physical on Monday and likely will sign his deal on Tuesday. He's the highest-drafted player to agree to terms so far this summer.
Sale and Mississippi lefthander Drew Pomeranz were the two best college pitchers in the 2010 draft. In recent years, the top college pitchers who have set themselves apart from the pack usually have received major league contracts. From 2004-09, 11 college pitchers signed big league deals with an average bonus of $3.3 million and a guarantee of $5 million.
While Sale will get less money than anticipated, the White Sox will give him every opportunity to crash their big league bullpen, perhaps as early as August. He'll initially report to high Class A Winston-Salem, with an anticipated promotion to Triple-A Charlotte in mid-July. After spending this summer as a reliever, he'll work in the Arizona Fall League as a starter and get the opportunity to make Chicago's rotation in spring training next year.