When preparing this seven-round mock draft, the key was to look at the two previous drafts that Chicago White Sox amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler has orchestrated.
For pitchers, his focus is on power arms (no preference between starters and relievers); for hitters, the focus is on plate discipline. Only three prep players have been selected in the first seven rounds over the past three years : Luis Curbelo, Lency Delgado and Cabera Weaver.
Thus, I tried to keep these tendencies in mind. The picks in this mock draft 1.0 wouldn’t necessarily be my choices, but these are the types of players that Hostetler will strongly consider. When making my selections, especially for rounds two through seven, prospect rankings provided by Baseball America and FanGraphs are my guide, in that I try to be as realistic as possible: If both sites have a player listed to go before Chicago’s next selection, I won’t consider that player in my mock for that round.
When I do my 10-round mock in late May, I’ll also review MLB Pipeline’s rankings (which haven’t been updated since preseason, but are expected to be revised soon) as well.
University of California
This was actually a more difficult choice than anticipated. My favorite choice for this pick, aside from Oregon State’s all-world catcher Adley Rutschman, is actually Texas prep shortstop Bobby Witt, Jr. due to his tremendous upside — both offensively and defensively. However, in recent mocks by FanGraphs and Perfect Game, they have Rutschman and Witt going 1-2. Baseball America, however, actually has Rutschman and Vaughn going 1-2. Thus, since two of those three mocks don’t have Witt being available going to the White Sox with pick No. 3, this winnows the choice to several possibilities: Vaughn, Georgia prep shortstop C.J. Abrams, TCU southpaw Nick Lodolo, Arizona State outfielder Hunter Bishop, UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott, and Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday.
Every one of these players has weaknesses. Despite his consistent power, patience and hitting ability, Vaughn has slumped badly over the past month, as he’s been fed a vast diet of breaking balls with which he’s had difficulties making hard contact against. Abrams’ defense is questionable at short (although he could make a great center fielder), his power is relatively limited, and he’s a risky prep selection. Lodolo’s freshman and sophomore seasons featured ERAs over 4.30, plus some believe he’s more of a sixth-to-10th pick. Bishop’s only good college season has been this year, while Bleday missed significant time last year due to injury and has below-average speed. Stott just simply doesn’t offer the upside of the other college players listed.
Supposing that Rutschman and Witt are off the board, this decision comes down to three: Vaughn, Bishop, and Lodolo. I’ve decided to go with Vaughn with the third pick, despite concerns that several other top White Sox prospects are pegged for first base potential going forward — namely Eloy Jimenez, Zack Collins and Jake Burger. Vaughn’s bat has proven to be too special for such a long time, he’s impossible to pass up. That said, if he continues to struggle over the next month while Bishop and Lodolo continue to excel, I may have a different choice for this slot in mock 2.0.
Despite Vaughn’s recent slump, these are his stats through April 25:
.379/.539/.710, 124 AB, 8 2B, 11 HR, 35 RBIs, 39 BB (23.35%), 26 K (15.57%)
The second round is the perfect spot to snag a player who has either fallen from first round consideration due to an off-year or had a fantastic season contrary to what he’s produced before. Hoese qualifies, and like Jonathan India last year, he could easily skyrocket to first round consideration based on his 2019 season. Hoese’s defense isn’t as solid as India’s, however, so he still may be available in the second round. While his first two seasons at Tulane were mediocre at best, he’s produced terrific numbers (surpassing even Vaughn’s) this year through April 25:
.415/.500/.872, 164 AB, 15 2B, 20 HR, 51 RBIs, 25 BB (12.63%), 17 K (8.59%)
Others considered for this pick include Arizona third sacker Nick Quintana (who posts numbers similar to Zack Collins), Stanford southpaw Erik Miller, Southern Mississippi outfielder Matt Wallner, and Eastern Florida J.C. starter Carter Stewart (although I doubt he’ll be available with this pick).
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
University of Arkansas
Rounds 3-5 look especially ripe for pitching prospects. FanGraphs lists Campbell as the 84th best player eligible for draft day, so picking him at No. 81 seems reasonable. Campbell has terrific size, at 6´4´´ and 225 pounds, and his repertoire includes a fastball sitting in the mid-90s, a cutter, curveball and changeup according to Baseball America. These are his stats for the Razorbacks through April 25:
10 G, 10 GS, 7-1 record, 2.44 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 66 IP, 50 H, 10 BB, 78 K, 1 HR
Several other outstanding pitching options abound in the third round, including Michigan southpaw Tommy Henry, Oregon righthander Kenyon Yovan, and Oregon State righty Grant Gambrell. Pennsylvania prep outfielder Chris Newell would also make an excellent choice here.
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
Mississippi State University
Small (6´3´´, 190 pounds) is posting exceptional numbers across the board, and actually has louder stuff than former teammate and current White Sox farmhand Konnor Pilkington. Well, actually his stuff isn’t particularly louder, but it plays up due to his high-energy delivery. His fastball currently tops at 92 mph according to Prospects Live, while he offers a nice change-of-pace with a mid-70s curveball and upper-70s changeup. The curveball is Small’s best pitch, and he’s shown excellent command and control despite a lot of working parts in his delivery. These are his stats through April 25:
10 G, 10 GS, 4-1 record, 2.10 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 60 IP, 37 H, 16 BB, 103 K, 5 HR
Here’s a video of Small, courtesy of Prospects Live:
Other pitchers worth considering in the fourth round include local product LHSP Antoine Kelly from Wabash Valley C.C., Missouri southpaw T.J. Sikkema, Texas A&M John Doxakis, East Carolina righty Jake Agnos, Fresno State catcher Carter Bins, and Georgia Tech first baseman/catcher Kyle McCann.
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Song (6´4´´, 195 pounds) is a special case, as his results and stuff would typically indicate that he’d be long gone before the fifth round. As it stands, he very likely will be. What may prevent Song from getting selected before the fifth round would be his commitment with the Naval Academy. Pro baseball would have to wait until 2021 at the very earliest, which is when he’d be eligible to petition the Navy to be placed on reserve duty so he could pursue his sport. As he’ll be 22 at the time of the draft, he’ll be at least 24 by the time he steps foot on a minor league mound, which may cause enough trepidation to prevent teams from picking him as early as his talent suggests. In the meantime, he’ll be commandeering an MH60 chopper. Song’s four-pitch repertoire includes a 91-94 mph fastball which recently touched 95-97 mph according to 2080 Baseball; a hard 82-86 mph slider with late movement (his out pitch), a 12-to-6 knee-buckling curveball, and a developing changeup. These are his results through April 25:
10 G, 10 GS, 8-0 record, 1.36 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 66 IP, 35 H, 28 BB, 118 K, 2 HR
If Song is already selected before the White Sox make their pick, other options for the fifth round include Arizona State RHSP Alec Marsh, Mississippi RHSP Will Ethridge, Butler righty Ryan Pepiot, Illinois infielder Michael Massey, California prep outfielder Emanuel Dean, and Stanford catcher Maverick Handley.
University of Washington
Kahle (pronounced Kale) has produced such outstanding numbers for the Huskies that it’s very possible he may be selected before the sixth round. However, since FanGraphs doesn’t rank Kahle in the Top 150, it’s possible he may slide. Why? It certainly isn’t a result of his hitting. These are his numbers through April 25:
.367/.506/.567, 120 AB, 6 2B, 6 HR, 34 RBIs, 34 BB (21.25%), 17 K (10.63%)
It’s possible it could be due to Kahle’s defense, as he’s relatively small for his position (5´10´´, 195 pounds). However, Prospect Junkies praised Kahle’s “major league arm” and recorded a pop time of 1.94 (reporting he has been as fast as 1.81). Kahle also earned praise for his receiving work and leadership skills.
Other viable sixth round options include St. Mary’s southpaw starter Ken Waldichuk, Gonzaga righty Casey Legumina, North Carolina right-handed reliever Joey Lancellotti, and LSU right-handed reliever Todd Peterson.
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
Little is Stanford’s closer, and it never hurts to have too many relievers in the system. His fastball isn’t super-high octane, as it runs around 93-94 mph according to 2080 Baseball, but it’s supported by a low-80s slider and changeup. At 6´4´´ and 190 pounds, Little has the size to be a starting pitcher. Here are his stats over the last two years, through April 25:
39 G, 0 GS, 6-1 with 23 SV, 1.04 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 69 IP, 43 H, 14 BB, 90 K, 3 HR
Other options here include Duke southpaw Adam Laskey, New Mexico State shortstop Joey Ortiz, Penn State southpaw Dante Biasi, and Mississippi righty reliever Parker Caracci.
In the later rounds, the Sox have done a great job picking relievers and/or small college starting pitchers who’ve successfully moved up the ranks. Plate discipline & defensive flexibility are musts for the position players, because most don’t have the power numbers which would’ve caused them to be drafted in the earlier rounds.