Back in 2000, 22-year-old Joe Crede made his debut for the Chicago White Sox. The following year, 23-year-old Aaron Rowand made his. Both players carved out good careers for themselves and were regarded as heroes for their roles on the 2005 World Series team. These days, they're referred to as something of an unfortunate benchmark because they're the most recent position players signed by the Sox out of the amateur draft that both made their major league debut and provided league-average-or-better performance on the South Side.
Many White Sox draftees since Crede and Rowand have tried valiantly to attain the status of "league average position player" as a member of the big league team, but all have failed. Today, we look to honor the greatest ten of these men who lost the good fight.
Before we begin, here's some notes on the criteria:
- Only the White Sox portion of each player's career is considered.
- The team the player first signed with out of the amateur draft must be the White Sox.
- The player was in the White Sox organization from the time they were signed to the time they made their major league debut.
- Amateur free agent signings do not count. This removes six players from consideration by my count, most notably Carlos Sanchez, Eduardo Escobar, and Jose Abreu.
- The player's White Sox career must be at an end (for the foreseeable future). Good-bye, Tyler Saladino, Micah Johnson (debatable!), and Trayce Thompson.
- "Greatest" is a bit subjective. Wins Above Replacement is considered, but this is definitely not a ranking by pure WAR. Playing time, amount and significance of "big moments", and how memorable the player was all feed into the rankings.
Another college quarterback, Fields was a well-regarded third base prospect that some thought could eventually be Crede's successor. In 2007, a year that many Sox fans would prefer to forget, Fields belted out 23 home runs, which raised hopes that he might be able to lock down a role as a lineup regular. Unfortunately, poor defense and alarming strikeout rates were Fields' undoing. His poor play gave way to Gordon Beckham's ascent to the big league club.