Accordingly, the cream of the crop is starting to crystallize (a popular form of crop cream), and all signs point to three pitchers going with the first three picks, although the order isn't nearly as universal.
- Carlos Rodon, the North Carolina State lefty with the power fastball-slider combo.
- Brady Aiken, the San Diego prep lefty with a bigger fastball and slider to match.
- Tyler Kolek, the hulking Texas prep righty with triple-digit heat.
This trio further isolated itself from the rest of the pack earlier this week when Jeff Hoffman, the East Carolina righty (and Latham, N.Y. native), succumbed to an elbow injury that will require Tommy John surgery. My day-job colleague talked to his mom, who said that Hoffman will still enter the draft, where he stands a good chance of being taken later in the first round, perhaps by a team with multiple early picks.
The strength of this draft fits the White Sox well, since the farm system is thin on starters, and could use an infusion of top-of-the-line stuff. There's always a chance the White Sox could deviate from the consensus, but Rick Hahn has said a pitcher of some sort is probable.
With four weeks remaining until the draft's first day, the top three national outlets issued fresh opinions on the draft's top three prospects:
3. WHITE SOX: The new draft rules have opened up owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s wallet, so if Rodon were to fall here the White Sox would take him. If Rodon is gone and Aiken is available, he would make sense here. There’s some talk of the White Sox shying away from Kolek, potentially in favor of a college arm, if Aiken and Rodon are off the board.
Projected pick: Brady Aiken
Keith Law said his first mock draft will come out next Thursday, but he did post his first Top 100 list, ranking the pitchers 1) Aiken, 2) Rodon and 3) Kolek. While Manuel says the Sox might be reluctant to take Kolek, Law says that Rodon wouldn't necessarily be an automatic pick if he fell to the third spot:
Scott (Lincolnshire): Any chance the big 3 arms don't get selected 3rd overall and slide to 4th for the cubs? I know that you just released a prospect ranking, which isn't necessarily a mock draft on what you think teams will do.
Klaw: Correct, that's just my "board" but not a projection. I think there's a decent chance Rodon reaches the Cubs, but not the two prep arms. Depends a lot on what the White Sox do if Aiken-Kolek go 1-2.
Jim Callis starts his chat by addressing what the White Sox might do. He sees the Sox taking whichever aforementioned pitcher is available, but he goes a step further to list possible collegiate arms if the Sox are dead-set on one:
If Rodon goes to the Astros at No. 1 or the Marlins at No. 2 -- and I think he probably will -- that would leave righties Aaron Nola (Louisiana State) and Tyler Beede (Vanderbilt) and lefties Kyle Freeland (Evansville), Brandon Finnegan (Texas Christian) and Sean Newcomb (Hartford) as the top college arms available. And while all of those guys are talented, and Nola likely will be the first starting pitcher from this Draft to reach the Major Leagues, I also can't imagine the White Sox ignoring the higher upsides of Aiken and/or Kolek.