On the night before the draft Wednesday, word began leaking out that Tyler Kolek, the hard-throwing Texas prep righty most commonly connected to the White Sox with their No. 3 pick, might not be top-three material after all.
The best draft dope comes in the next 18 hrs starting now as meetings are breaking for the night. Lots of buzz that Kolek is sliding.— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) June 5, 2014
Scouts tend to get more conservative in crunch time & Kolek was overhyped due to velo MT @riley_daddy No different than he's been all season— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) June 5, 2014
It could be the lack of a polished secondary pitch scaring teams off, or it could be the fact that Kolek will be the heaviest right-handed pitcher ever taken in a draft. Or maybe the messages are intended to mislead, and he'll go second. That doesn't seem likely, but the speculation is most of the fun this time of year.
The White Sox have reasons to like all the options up top. Assistant scouting director Nick Hostetler praised the four most commonly associated with the Sox - Kolek, Brady Aiken, Carlos Rodon and Aaron Nola -- while Don Cooper picked a favorite:
"I liked them all. I liked the kid Aiken maybe the best. But a high school kid, that’s going to be a little longer.
"The closest to the big leagues Rodon and the second closest was Nola. It’s hard not to like the stuff coming out of the hand of Kolek. Those high school kids, there’s work to be done there."
If Cooper's mindset is indicative of the war room, it seems like a collegiate pitcher might be the call. Kenny Williams says Scott Boras won't be a factor in the selection, while Scot Gregor says he thinks Nola is the guy.
Mock drafts: Last call
But what do the experts think? Below, you'll find the two most recent mock drafts for each outlet, so you can see which ones have changed their minds.
MLB.com's Jim Callis on Monday: Tyler Kolek.
Rodon may be No. 1 on Chicago's board and likely would be the pick here, but signability could be an issue. The White Sox almost certainly will take an arm and it's hard to ignore the upside of Kolek, the hard throwing high schooler. If the South Siders prefer collegians to prepsters, polished Louisiana State right-hander Aaron Nola could be their man.
CALLIS TODAY: Kolek.
Assuming Aiken and Rodon are gone, the White Sox will pick between Kolek, the hardest throwing high schooler ever, and Louisiana State right-hander Aaron Nola, the most polished pitcher in the Draft. The decision could go either way.
ESPN.com's Keith Law on Tuesday: Tyler Kolek.
Analysis: They have been connected to Kolek for a while. The Sox also have interest in Brady Aiken, maybe Carlos Rodon and Aaron Nola.
LAW TODAY: Aaron Nola.
I've heard they'd now take Nola over Tyler Kolek, although Kolek would still be in play here. I have conflicting notes on whether they'd take Carlos Rodon if he gets here.
Baseball America's John Manuel on Monday: Tyler Kolek.
The talk to this point has been that the White Sox would not pass on Rodon if he were available here. That talk persists, but so do the rumors linking Chicago to outsized Texas high school flamethrower Tyler Kolek. The Cubs are watching closely because while Kolek is not a Cubs target, Rodon is. The White Sox have a bigger bonus pool than the Cubs, but Rodon likely would eat up more of it.
MANUEL TODAY: Kolek.
The White Sox are believed to be deciding between Texas prep righty Tyler Kolek and Nola, who would be a fast-moving righthanded complement to ace Chris Sale. Past Sox selections indicate a preference for college arms such as Nola, but Kolek is the kind of player who breaks molds.
(This one is subject to change, because Manuel said he's going to try to post one more mock.)
MLB Draft Insider's Chris Crawford on Tuesday: Tyler Kolek.
I’m hearing Aaron Nola mentioned with this pick more and more — keep in mind the White Sox haven’t taken a prep pitcher with their first selection in quite some time — but I still think Kolek is the pick if he’s still there. If not, Nola’s the guy.
CRAWFORD TODAY: Aaron Nola.
And we have a change. There’s still absolutely a chance that they go with Kolek, but it sounds like he’s slipping a bit for various reasons and Nola’s stock continues to rise.
(Crawford said this mock draft may be tweaked as information trickles in.)
Bonus: Baseball Prospectus/Perfect Game today: Tyler Kolek.
The White Sox have been connected to Kolek for several weeks now, and nothing has changed leading up to draft day.
Perfect Game's previous mocks are behind paywall, but given that blurb, it sounds like there probably isn't much deviation.
Podcast: Draft blowout
Let's plug it again: The latest episode of the South Side Sox podcast offers plenty of draft talk, including input from White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann and MLB.com senior writer Jim Callis. You can listen and download here:
If you haven't yet subscribed to the podcast, there are a few ways to go about it:
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