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White Sox 2013 MLB Draft Candidates: Position players

The organization could use middle infielders; historically, they love toolsy outfielders

Austin Wilson
Austin Wilson
Melina Vastola / USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today, I looked at the various collegiate arms who have been linked to the White Sox in the run-up to the first round of the MLB draft.

But the Sox need position players more than arms, which is why the Sox beat writers see them targeting a middle infielder with the 17th pick. The national evaluators considered the franchise's history of toolsy outfielders with their mock drafts, although with Rick Hahn leading the charge for the first time, that may be an outdated model.

Name repetition seems to be a thing this year. Along with the Gonzalez(s)es in the pitching ranks, you'll see another Anderson and another Crawford. It's similar to Tim Beckham being drafted seven picks before Gordon Beckham, and Josh Sale four picks after Chris Sale. Hopefully none of these guys get in trouble for throwing coins at strippers.

For more information on other prospects not listed here, consult your local library or these links:


J.P. Crawford

SS, 6'2", BL/TR, 175 lbs., Lakewood (Calif.) HS
Rankings: BA #15; #19; Law #18

Crawford -- a relative of the Dodger outfielder -- is considered one of the two premier high school middle infielders in the draft, and even though 18-year-olds tend to develop out of the position, he's considered a true shortstop. He has prep-player caveats in other respects, including a need to get stronger and a swing in need of shortening.

Daryl Van Schouwen and Mark Gonzales have both written about Crawford as a headliner. Van Schouwen says Crawford "has been compared to Brandon Phillips and Orlando Hudson," which is one of those classic comparisons that tell you nothing but ... well, you know. Gonzales doubts Crawford will be unavailable by the 17th pick.



BA: "He projects as a solid-average or slightly better defensive shortstop and an average hitter with fringy power. Crawford has good hand-eye coordination, which allows him to spray line drives to all fields, but he has a high set-up and a bit of a loop in his swing." "Crawford's stock slipped a bit this spring as some scouts questioned his hitting tools. How high he goes in the Draft may depend on how much teams feel his bat will come, though it's fairly certain someone will take the chance in helping him develop given his outstanding defensive skills up the middle."

Baseball Prospectus: "The only true Day 1 talent that projects to stick at the position long-term. Crawford blends a promising offensive profile and the defensive foundation to thrive in the six spot as a pro and has improved his game on both sides of the plate over the past 12 months."


Tim Anderson

SS, BR/TR, 6'2", 175 lbs., East Central (Miss.) JC
Rankings: BA #26; #25; Law #17

Anderson is the multi-sport athlete the White Sox have fallen for in the past, missing large chunks of his high school baseball career due to basketball seasons that were alternately successful and injury-plagued. He has the speed and athleticism to play shortstop, but maybe not the arm. Some see a power swing to the pull field, but since he's a junior college player, pitch recognition needs work. BA compares him to ... wait for it ... Phillips and Hudson.

Anderson is the undercard to Crawford in the Chicago beat writers' reports, but Law has the Sox choosing Anderson over Crawford in his mock draft (with the Dodgers taking Crawford with the next pick).


BLURBS "His best tool is his speed and he has plenty of it as a guy who should be a basestealing threat in the future. He makes solid contact, putting the ball in play and letting his legs work for him, even showing some power to the pull side on occasion. He has shown some difficulty hitting the breaking ball."

BA: "He has followed up by showing solid power this spring to go with his other prodigious tools. Anderson stands out in a draft class light on middle infielders. Scouts aren't sold that he'll stick at shortstop thanks to average arm strength."

ESPN Scouts Inc: "Anderson is one of the few shortstop prospects in this draft who might remain a shortstop in pro ball, with a chance for several plus tools but less polish than you'd like to see in a possible first-rounder."


Austin Wilson

OF, BR/TR, 6'5", 245 lbs., Stanford
Rankings: BA #29; #27; Law #35

In previous years, Wilson would be considered a near-autodraft for Kenny Williams -- a big, strong, toolsy outfielder and Stanford man. Jim Callis had Wilson going to the Sox in his first mock draft, and Wilson is lumped in with a few other outfielders as a field from which to choose in others. But recent drafts and rumors have the Sox turning more toward pitchers and infielders.

Wilson's stock fell due to injury, but his talent was considered mid-first-round before, and with Williams still highly involved with scouting and player evaluation, yaneverknow.


BLURBS "He certainly looks the part, strong and athletic, with the ability to hit for power and run well. After a solid Cape Cod League season last summer, Wilson wasn't able to show what he could do during his junior year until early April because of a stress reaction in his elbow."

BA: "With his cannon arm, he'll be an above-average defender, but he still needs to prove himself with the bat. He has plenty of bat speed and strength, but has a lot of moving parts to his swing and struggles with pitch recognition."

Prospectus: "The wild card of this draft class, the super toolsy Wilson is now back and healthy and is in play in the top 10 if he performs well."


Aaron Judge

OF, BR/TR, 6'7", 255 lbs., Fresno State
Rankings: BA #30; #24; Law #36

The second of the toolsy outfielder troika, Judge stands out for his massive size. He was recruited out of high school to play tight end (which isn't a bad thing with White Sox draft picks), but he chose baseball instead. He's known for his batting-practice power displays, but it hasn't always shown up in games. He has the defensive ability to be a reliable right fielder.



Law: "When scouts reach for 'Blake Griffin' when they need a physical comparable, you know you're a big baseball player. Judge has raw power but a somewhat short swing that generates more contact than big flies in games."

ESPN Scouts Inc: "He has 30-homer potential for a team willing to overlook what might be 150 strikeouts a year, which would still be an above-average player, but the fact that he hasn't shown a ton of power during games so far is a minor red flag."

BA: "Judge profiles as a .250 hitter and is going to strike out a lot, which comes with the territory for tall power hitters with long arms. A team can live with the strikeouts if he hits 30-plus home runs a year. While his swing is more about strength and leverage than bat speed, he has light-tower power."


Phillip Ervin

OF, BR/TR, 5'11", 190 lbs., Samford
Rankings: BA #23; #21; Law #53

Ervin is dwarfed by the first two toolsy outfielders, but his skill set is much broader. He did have an ankle injury to moved him from center to left, and that explains the 30-spot disparity in rankings you see above. He has arm strength to play a corner, but the much lower power potential makes him better-suited to center.



BA: "He's shorter at 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, has fewer holes in his swing, better hitting ability and above-average raw power thanks to his compact, strong swing. Ervin is a plus runner at his best, but scouts are mixed on his center-field ability." "Performing well in the Cape Cod League is always a plus for college hitters, and Ervin set himself up extremely well this summer, winning the Cape MVP award while reaching double-digits in home runs and steals."

Prospectus: "Ervin has a quick bat that, when paired with his simple load and trigger, allows him to let the ball travel, maximizing his ability to make contact at impact checkpoints in his bat path."


Hunter Renfroe

OF, BR/TR, 6'1", 210 lbs., Mississippi State
Rankings: BA #11; #28; Law #14's Jonathan Mayo originally had Renfroe going to the Sox in his first mock draft, but Renfroe hasn't fallen that far in more recent evaluations -- all the major mock drafts have him off the board by the 14th pick at the latest. Scouting reports suggest he's the sturdiest power-based right fielder out of those projected to be available outside the top ten.



BA: "He has polished his approach and gets to more of his well above-average raw power, though scouts still expect him to swing and miss plenty as a pro. He's an asset defensively with a powerful arm and above-average speed." "While there's still some swing and miss to his game, he's progressed tremendously at the plate. The more consistent of a hitter he can become, the more he can tap into his outstanding raw power."

Law: "Renfroe has always had the tools to be a first round pick but had no performance to speak of in his first two years in college. He really started to put everything together at the start of this, his junior year, showing great raw power that started to carry over into games and a better ability to square up the baseball."


Dominic Smith

1B, BL/TL, 6'0", 195 lbs., Serra (Calif.) HS
Rankings: BA #14; #15; Law #11

These last two names were tagged to the Sox in mock drafts only, and isn't particularly a leader in prospect/draft talk. That said, I'm including them because they cover positions not yet talked about. Smith is a first baseman only -- and a high school first baseman at that -- but his bat gets a ton of raves for somebody his age (he turns 18 on June 15).


BLURBS "Right now, Smith is more of a hit machine, an RBI type, than one who will wow you with his power. There is some pop there, and how high he goes on draft day may depend on just how much power a team thinks he'll have in the future."

Law: "He has a very smooth left-handed swing and when he does square the ball up, he generates surprising raw power ... he can't play another position, but he does have the benefit of being able to play a very good first base."

BA: "As he spends more time in the weight room and learns to stay back and use his lower half better, he figures to hit for plus power."


Nick Ciuffo

C, BL/TR, 6'0", 195 lbs., Lexington (S.C.) HS
Rankings: BA #22; #23; Law #21

The White Sox drafted two prep catchers in 2012, investing a significant amount of money in Jose Barraza (eighth round, $146,300), and Sammy Ayala (17th round, $258,000), so it would seem like the Sox would have their developmental hands full here. Ciuffo is a well-regarded catcher with the bonus of hitting left-handed, and his ranking is befitting of a 17th pick, but he doesn't make sense if the Sox like Barraza and Ayala as much as the money suggests.



BA: "He plays with energy and has matured into a leader on the field for a nationally ranked team. He projects to hit for at least average power and draws comparisons to A.J. Pierzynski for his tools and competitive edge." "Left-handed-hitting catchers are always a hot commodity, and Ciuffo has the chance to really hit at the next level, both for average and power. Scouts love his strength both at the plate and behind it."

Minor League Ball: "Ciuffo may be the best all around catcher in this class and could develop quicker than a lot of prep catchers because of his present skills."