First off, here are the handy links that guide you to every one of the 40 Chicago White Sox draft picks this year:
And here are your programming notes for this weekend’s College Super Regionals:
Round 1: Nick Madrigal, 2B/SS, Oregon State
Game 1: Friday, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
Game 2: Saturday, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
Round 3: Konnor Pilkington, LHP, Mississippi State
Game 1: Friday, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Game 2: Saturday, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
Round 14: Davis Martin, RHP, Texas Tech
Game 1: Saturday, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
Game 2: Sunday, 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
Game 3 (if necessary): Monday, 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
Let’s first take a step back and address the elephant in the room, in terms of the draft. Most of the draftees the Sox will sign are not in the system to be prospects. They are in the non-union minor leagues to provide cheap labor fodder for top draft picks, top international signees and rehab assignments. Yes, there are success stories but, particularly for Day Three picks, there are no expectations, only surprises — and their compensation indicates that.
With that out of the way, for the 2018 draft, let’s break down picks 1-15, big picture.
Six right-handed pitchers: Striever, Heuer, Carranza, Bilous, Martin, Shilling
Three left-handed pitchers: Pilkington, Perez, Sousa
Three middle infielders: Madrigal, Delgado, Maldonado
Two outfielders: Walker, Weaver
One catcher: Troutwine
Three high-schoolers: Delgado, Weaver, Maldonado
After the 2017 draft, the Sox signed every draftee from rounds 1-34, as well as Ted Andrews in round 37. The highest level played for any of the signees is still Gavin Sheets at Winston-Salem. The rest of the draft picks are still in Kannapolis, Great Falls or Arizona. The returns for these picks are not immediate. However, this year may be slightly different for Chicago’s No. 1 draft pick, Nick Madrigal.
Nick Madrigal likely to start pro career with high Class A Winston-Salem— Scot Gregor (@scotgregor) June 5, 2018
Here is JJ Cooper on the Madrigal pick, and how he plays into the rebuild:
White Sox rebuild gets a fast-mover to join it, so that's a plus for this pick as well. He should be ready arrive not too far behind the wave of White Sox prospects lapping to the shores of the South Side right now.— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) June 4, 2018
Madrigal seems like he could be in Chicago in short order. However, the rest of the picks are probably three or four years away, best case.
Some White Sox fans seemed to be enamored (bothered maybe a better word?) that the Sox took a middle infielder with their first pick and then a center fielder with their second. Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson have the middle infield locked up and Luis Robert, Blake Rutherford, and Luis Gonzalez are all center fielders ahead of Steele Walker.
First off, good players will find a position, and good front offices will help find positions for them. Sox scouting director Nick Hostetler has already indicated that Madrigal will also get time at third base — a weaker position group for the White Sox.
Yoan Moncada also spent some time as a third baseman in the minors, which is where he played during his cup of coffee with the Boston Red Sox.
With Tim Anderson’s quickness, range, and arm, it is not far-fetched to imagine a move to the outfield, like Billy Hamilton or Dee Gordon.
In terms of the outfield, anybody remember not worrying about balls hit to center when Aaron Rowand was there? Any position up the middle — catcher, second base/shortstop, and center field — are integral positions to a championship team on the diamond and the batter’s box.
Therefore, a team cannot have too many of them in their farm system. You know what happens when there is a logjam at these positions? Some of the prospects are traded to bolster weaknesses on the team, i.e the Cubs trading middle infielder Gleyber Torres and centerfielder Billy McKinney (he too was a highly rated prospect) for closer Aroldis Chapman.
Another deep group for the White Sox is pitching, both in the rotation and in the bullpen. Pilkington and Streiver seem like the best bets to remain starters, but neither of them will be rushed. The White Sox have created multiple groups of pitchers who are not on the same timeline.
Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech, Carson Fulmer and Jordan Stephens are the next guys up, with Alec Hansen close behind.
Jordan Guerrero, Dane Dunning, Dylan Cease, Spencer Adams, Ian Clarkin, and now, because of injury, AJ Puckett, are next in line.
Pilkington and Striever will join Lincoln Henzman, along with surprises in Kannapolis and later draft picks from 2018 in the third wave of starting pitchers.
Bullpen arms do not need waves, but at every level there is a potential closer: an injured Zack Burdi in Charlotte, Ian Hamilton with the Barons, Matt Foster in Winston-Salem, and Tyler Johnson with the I’s. Those arms can be promoted faster, but even those promotions are staggered.
A team can never have too much pitching. Pitching prospects are prone to flame out, and injuries seem to be on the rise. Just ask the New York Mets (who are not deep in pitching) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (who are). Injures can derail a season (in the Mets case), or force a team to dip into its depth and tread some water during a playoff race (like the Dodgers have).
There was only one catcher, Gunnar Troutwine, among the White Sox’s top 15 picks. This is not a total endorsement of Zack Collins or Seby Zavala, but it is nice to imagine so. Again, backstop depth is important, but as important as it is with middle infielders or pitchers. Catchers are usually average hitters, but they need to be good behind the plate. And if we have learned anything this year, organizations need to have four catchers in their system who can at least play well behind the plate.
What the Sox are trying to do in drafts, international free agency and trades is to create and extend their championship window once the first wave of top prospects arrive. That depth can help when a prospect regresses or an injury occurs, as trade bait, or when the team inevitably loses players to free agency. So do not worry where 2018 draft picks are going to play — just be excited that the White Sox are still in position to be the team of the 2020s.