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White Sox take direct approach on first day of MLB draft

Selections of Carlos Rodon and Spencer Adams suggest club prioritizing talent over budget flexibility


During the first two years of the MLB draft's assigned pick value system, the White Sox threw curveballs with their second selection.

In 2012, they used their supplemental-round pick on Keon Barnum. It was considered a reach -- the 48th overall pick for Baseball America's No. 155 prospect. A year later, the Sox used their second round pick (55th overall) on Tyler Danish (No. 96 prospect), a pick that was divisive in the draft community due to his crazy arm action.

This time around, the White Sox used both of their first-day picks like a team that never wants to draft this high again. Doug Laumann and his crew hrew the equivalent of two challenge fastballs by selecting:

*Carlos Rodon, the preseason No. 1 draft prospect and Scott Boras client with the third overall pick, and ...

*Spencer Adams, the prep righty out of Georgia with in the second round (44th overall).

Now Rodon had been in the mix all along. We saw Tyler Kolek tied to the Sox more than anybody else, but that's because Rodon was usually off the board in those mock drafts. When the Marlins took Kolek, the only question was whether the Sox would put their literal money where their figurative mouths were. They didn't shy away from taking the best player regardless of representation.

Then again, the Sox have a rich history of fast-tracking pitchers (or hyperdriving them, in Chris Sale's case), so it seems like Boras should pick up what the Sox are putting down at the onset of this relationship.

Given how the Sox have used their second pick in the past, though, Adams registered as the bigger surprise. It looks like the Sox pursued talent over potential slot savings here, because everybody had him ranked higher than 44th with room to spare:

It's possible that drafting Rodon allowed the Sox to get more aggressive with the second pick. With the reconstruction process ahead of schedule, I'd imagine you'd see an Erik Johnson instead of a Danish if they were in a position to take Kolek first.

However, since Rodon offers the possibility of an expeditious arrival -- the lone reward of a 99-loss season -- the Sox could afford to use the second pick on a guy they might've taken with the first pick after a 99-win season.

Tapping the top talent could carry a hefty tag. There were rumors of a $6 million (or more) demand from Rodon, which would be over the Sox' slot value of $5,721,500, so there might be more hardball than usual between the Sox and their first pick. The same could be said for Adams, who might have leverage to command more than the No. 44 slot value ($1,282,700).

Basically, it's not nearly as easy to pencil in significant downdraft savings at this juncture, but the Sox don't seem to be wringing their hands over it:

White Sox planning resumed for second-day picks after the team received immediate rave reviews for their selections of Adams and Rodon. Adams is a Georgia recruit, but the White Sox are confident they will sign him just as they are with Rodon. [...]

"He was excited, his whole crew was excited," said Hostetler of Adams' reaction when the White Sox took him in the second round, with a projected slot bonus of $1,282,700. "Our scout was extremely excited. We aren't used to drafting this high, but we feel like we got a first-round talent in the second round."

Assuming the contract talks don't turn into hostage-grade negotiations, the Sox don't have to sweat profusely over going a little over. They have the option of moving money around on the second day like they did last year. Tim Anderson and Danish signed for their slot values, and the Sox then drafted three college seniors over the next eight selections to free up pool cash for Thad Lowry (fifth round) and Trey Michalczewski (seventh round).

I'd guess the Sox' second day looks more like 2013 than 2012. That year, the Sox signed Barnum below slot ($950,000, against $1,052,500), which opened up enough of their budget to play the next seven picks in a mostly straightforward fashion.

(A neat postscript to the first day of the 2012 draft: The Sox didn't beat the system when they selected BA's No. 155 prospect with the 48th pick, but they made up for it some by getting BA's No. 156 prospect with the 291st overall pick. Daryl Van Schouwen wrote recently that Micah Johnson is the Sox' only untouchable prospect.)