The last round of mock drafts and speculation had the White Sox choosing whichever pitcher from the Big Three -- Carlos Rodon, Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek -- made it to them. Prep catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson was presented as a position-player option, but only to cover that particular base.
Since then, a new pitcher has emerged as a possibility: LSU right-hander Aaron Nola. Keith Law connected him to the White Sox earlier in the week:
White Sox in heavy on Nola today - I saw Kenny Willliams Jr and I was told Reinsdorf is here too— keithlaw (@keithlaw) May 22, 2014
He followed up in his chat by saying he's "only hearing [Sox] really on Kolek and Nola right now."
UPDATE (2:10 p.m.): Dan Hayes just shot down Law's report this afternoon:
Report that Jerry Reinsdorf was part of #WhiteSox contingent to see Aaron Nola is false. Also listed Kenny Williams Jr., scout for diff org.— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesCSN) May 24, 2014
So there may not be any smoke to this. Nola is markedly different from the troika of top arms, in that he's a college righty who is considered to be as close to the majors as anybody. That brings to mind other high-floor picks, such as the one-two punch of Lance Broadway and Kyle McCulloch, but Nola's arsenal sounds more imposing:
Scouts behind home plate said they saw exactly what they always see from Nola. He ran his fastball up to 95-96 mph in the first, settled in at 92-94 and held that velocity all the way through the eighth inning. He threw his 79-81 mph slider for strikes, and the pitch was particularly effective when he threw it on the inside corner against righthanded hitters, because his low slot, extension and the depth of the pitch make it look like it’s coming right at them, before crossing the plate. And he mixed in his 83-84 mph changeup effectively, often for groundball outs against lefties. As usual his command of his entire repertoire was pinpoint after that first inning.
When asked if Nola would be a mistake that high in his chat, Law said no, based on the strength of his fastball command.
That said, the Nola momentum isn't so strong as to alter mock drafts yet. Baseball America's John Manuel released his third version on Friday, with the Sox taking Rodon at No. 3 after Aiken (Astros) and Jackson (Marlins) went off the board.
Likewise, Jim Callis (formerly of BA) released his first mock draft for MLB.com, and he comes to the same conclusion -- Aiken, Jackson, then ...
3. White Sox: Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State
Chicago almost certainly will take a pitcher, with a preference for college arms and Rodon No. 1 on its list. If Rodon is gone, the White Sox could pass on Aiken and Kolek and opt for Louisiana State right-hander Aaron Nola.
That pick seems to lean on a time-tested preference -- the Sox don't take prep pitchers in the first round -- but in the process, it conflicts with another (the Sox' aversion to dealing with Scott Boras). He addressed this on Twitter: