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The race for the No. 3 pick is getting uncomfortably tight

Among several contenders, it’s the Detroit Tigers — again — who might out-tank the White Sox

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Chicago White Sox
Five-Year Flashback: Carlos Rodon was the third overall pack in 2014’s MLB Draft.
Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

For what it’s worth, I’d rather be writing about the Chicago White Sox being in contention for a playoff spot. Actually, for that matter, I’d rather be writing about how we won this weekend’s series against the team from the North Side.

Alas, we lost the final two games of the series and the Sox have been out of contention seemingly since April. It always feel like a kick in the gut every time the White Sox lose — especially to the North Siders.

This year, there may be a tiny silver lining, as the White Sox lead the race for the coveted third spot in next year’s MLB Draft. Don’t get me wrong — I always root for the Sox to win; if they lose, however, at least I know there perhaps may be some good that’d come of it perhaps in the long run.

Who may be available for Pick #3 in 2019’s draft?

Anything can happen between now and next June — the consensus choices for top picks in the draft right now may either go through some unexpected struggles and/or injuries next year, while players may rise unexpectedly through the ranks. As of right now, some top prep picks include:

  • OF Riley Greene (Oviedo, Fla.)
  • SS Bobby Witt, Jr. (Colleyville, Texas)
  • LHP Hunter Barco (Jacksonville, Fla.)

It’s possible the White Sox could select a top prep star in the first round, but they’ve been hesitant to do so ever since Courtney Hawkins was drafted in 2012.

Top collegiate players right now appear to be:

  • LHP Zach Thompson (Kentucky)
  • OF Matt Wallner (Southern Mississippi)
  • LHP Nick Lodolo (TCU)
  • C Shane Langeliers (Baylor)
  • SS Logan Davidson (Clemson)

and my personal favorite

  • C Adley Rutschman (Oregon State)

More information will be provided on these players (and others) once the NCAA season begins in earnest in February, if not earlier.

And even more importantly, the team that finishes third will be allowed to spend more money for signing bonuses, which may come in quite handy to help reel in some top-notch prep kids in the second and/or third rounds in particular.

Here’s a look at the race for No. 3, through September 23:

Chicago White Sox (61-94)

The White Sox have had a notoriously bad season, but believe it or not, they’ve been light years better than the Baltimore Orioles (45-110) and division rival Kansas City Royals (54-102). The White Sox play three games against Cleveland (86-68) and four against the Minnesota Twins (71-83), with an opponents’ combined winning percentage of .503.

San Diego Padres (62-94)

The Padres already robbed us big-time in the James Shields trade — do we need to see them draft someone we covet? They have three games remaining at San Francisco and three at home against Arizona. Both teams are out of the playoffs — the Giants are 72-84 and the Diamondbacks are 79-77. The combined winning percentage of these two teams is .484.

Miami Marlins (62-93)

It’s hard to believe the White Sox are worse than the Marlins, but Miami is actually better by a game than the White Sox going into the last week. All seven games for the Marlins are will be on the road, against the Washington Nationals (78-78), New York Mets (73-83), and a makeup game at the Pittsburgh Pirates (78-76) on October 1. I’m not convinced that makeup game will get played, as both teams are out of contention. In case it does, the combined winning percentage of those three teams is .487.

Detroit Tigers (63-93)

Do we really need to see the Tigers draft ahead of the White Sox again, especially after they out-tanked so impressively last year? The Tigers are just 1 12 games better than the White Sox, and they’re the only team in this list that has the tiebreaker advantage over the South Siders as a result of it having a worse record last year. They play three games at Minnesota (73-83) and the Milwaukee Brewers (89-67), for a combined winning percentage of .518. The Brewers may have a lot to play for in the final weekend, so the Tigers may indeed be a threat to surpass the White Sox yet again.

Cincinnati Reds (66-91)

The Reds have just five games this week — two against the Royals and three against the Pirates. They are four games better than the White Sox overall, which actually plays like five since the White Sox own the tiebreaker. The Royals are 54-102, while the Pirates are 78-76, for a combined winning of percentage of .442.

Texas Rangers (66-89)

The Rangers are still mathematically alive for the third pick, but it doesn’t look good. They are five games better than the White Sox, and since they don’t have the tiebreaker, it’s really more like six. Texas has three games remaining against the Angels (75-81) and four against the Seattle Mariners (85-70) for a combined winning percentage of .519

Final Summary

Ultimately, it’s a four-team race for the third slot between the White Sox, Padres, Marlins, and Tigers. In tiebreaker situations, the Tigers have the edge, with the White Sox, Padres, and Marlins next in line. I just hope this will be the last time we’ll be competing for such a high pick for many, many years to come.