White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler dropped in on the game broadcast tonight to chat about the draft and draft signings, with Jason and Steve. Here’s an on-the-fly transcript of those proceedings:
JASON BENETTI: So you got your top 33 draft picks signed. Did you expect that, and what does that mean to you?
NICK HOSTETLER: We expected more the guys toward the top of the draft to get finished and playing. There were a few that as the process developed over the course of the month who we were excited to get in the fold.
For us as a staff, we’re excited. It adds a bit of a feather in our cap, and our area guys and scouts, in the efforts they’ve put in to get to know these guys, know the signability, know what it was going to take to get them out and playing pro ball. All the credit in the world goes to those guys, and the effort they’ve put out all year to know what it was going to take to make these guys a part of the organization.
STEVE STONE: Tell us a little bit about Nick Madrigal and what the plans are for him, where he’s going, where he’s going to start, all of those things.
NH: Nick just signed toward the end of last week and played in his first [AZL] game last night, albeit with a couple hit-by-pitches. I’m not sure any of us were really excited to see that, from the standpoint of taking care of your guy in the first go-around. But it was fun to see him out there. It was fun to see some pictures and get the game report on the energy he brought.
Nick’s going to play there again tomorrow night and then in talking with Chris Getz, it sounds like they’re going to send him to [Low-A] Kannapolis after the game tomorrow night. He’ll start playing with the Intimidators at that point. From that point forward, Getz and his staff will evaluate where Nick’s at, where the rest of prospects are at and what they’re doing, as well as the teams, and kind of lay out a plan for the rest of the season going from there.
JB: So we have this list of draft picks signed. Who are the late-round guys who really stood out to you, if you can pick a couple, Sox fans should know about?
NH: One of the young men who we took was Bryce Bush, who was from the Detroit area, a high school kid from De La Salle. He was on our area code team, and we had known about Bryce for awhile. We had a good relationship with Bryce. He was signed to go play with Mississippi State, and we took Bryce late in the draft. He came to our predraft workout prior to it and put on a nice display, showed his power there and was really impressive.
When we took him, we told him what the process was. We explained to him that there was going to be a sit-and-wait to see what we were going to have financially available for him, and at the time, I wasn’t too optimistic we were going to get Bryce done. But as the process went on, our area scout Justin Wechsler — who knows the family inside and out, they were very close — communicated to us that Bryce wanted to play. So we started that process, and Bryce is one who we’re extremely excited about: big-time bat speed, big, huge raw power at a corner infield position. So we’re looking forward to following him.
Jason Morgan is another one, the right-handed pitcher from North Carolina. He’s a guy who’s had Tommy John surgery, he hasn’t pitched this year. We had saw him in the past and liked his stuff, and our TrackMan data and everything analytically checked as well for him. So he’s another one we were really excited to add here, late, as the deadline approached.
SS: Nick, you’ve been in player development and scouting for a long time. How unusual is it to see 33 of your draft picks all sign, relatively quickly?
NH: This was, I think, the most we’ve signed in a while. Again, I keep saying this, but it goes back to what our area scouts put in, and the time knowing these guys. Because there are times in the draft when you take a guy and you sit and wait, and you hope you get him signed. There are other times you take him, and you know he may be a backup plan for somebody in the higher rounds who might not sign.
But in this case, it just all really lined up for us, and it’s exciting to see. I know all of our scouts, you want to get a player, you want to be able to throw your name on him and have that player go out and play. So it’s nice to see our scouts have opportunities with these players.
SS: If you can pick out one guy who you were genuinely surprised — because, you know, everybody says boy, I’m surprised he was there when we got our pick. But if you were going to pick out one guy who you were surprised and very pleased was there — and it doesn’t matter what round it was — what guy would you look at and say, we got him in this particular spot, we didn’t think he was going to be there, but we’re ecstatic?
NH: Man, there was a few of them. As high as Konnor Pilkington, he was one of them. Knowing where we started with him in the fall, even last summer, and progressed through the offseason knowing he was a guy who we targeted as a guy we needed to see early, because he may fit in that mix up at No. 4 [overall]. And the way that his season went, it just didn’t happen for him.
It’s a testament to our guys staying on players, and we just absolutely loved the kid, thought he was a tremendous makeup kid, who needed an opportunity and a change of scenery. He was one of them who just jumped off the page. I just had a talk today with one of our guys who said a lot of people can’t believe that we got him in the third round. He was one we were very shocked [over] but very happy about.