The Chicago White Sox have a checkered history with the MLB draft since it initiated in 1965. While there have been some terrific selections (notably Frank Thomas, Harold Baines and Chris Sale), there have been many more disappointments.
This will be the first of an eight-part series which will detail the best White Sox selections in each of the first 40 rounds of the draft. There have been several White Sox picks who went unsigned, but made it big after being drafted in later years by other teams (Jimmy Key comes immediately to mind), but I’m simply looking at players who actually signed with the White Sox. Very few picks of recent vintage will make this list, as they’re still trying to add to their careers. In football and basketball, a clear picture of how successful a draft is can be determined within three years; in baseball, it’s closer to five.
Without further ado, here are the most successful selections in the 31st-35th rounds.
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
Lazar, who was the first-ever 31st round selection by the White Sox, is still the most productive major leaguer who signed in that round. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot to brag about aside from that. He pitched in parts of two seasons (1968-69), totaling 17 games and 34 innings. In those innings, Lazar posted an 0-1 record, 5.56 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, .276 OBA, 15 walks, 20 strikeouts and a bWAR of -0.3.
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
This southpaw toiled in the Minors for five seasons before making his MLB debut against the Orioles on July 29, 1995 (allowing just three earned runs in five innings, earning a win). His best season in the Minors was in 1993 for Hickory and South Bend, posting a combined 3.01 ERA and 1.22 WHIP while fanning 185 in 170 2⁄3 innings as a starter. Bertotti ultimately pitched in parts of three seasons (1995-97) for the White Sox, albeit without much success. Aside from Lazar, however, no other White Sox signee from the 31st round actually reached the majors so he deserves some praise nonetheless. For his White Sox career spanning 28 games and 46 innings, he combined to post a 3-1 record, 7.63 ERA, 2.02 WHIP, .313 OBA, 33 walks, 38 strikeouts and a bWAR of -0.7.
***No other signed 31st rounder, aside from the aforementioned Lazar and Bertotti, has made it to the majors. Unsigned picks who made it to the bigs include outfielder Jim Norris, pitcher Lucas Luetge (1991), and catcher James McCann (2008). McCann has eventually found his way onto the White Sox roster, this year. Signed White Sox 31st rounders still playing in organized baseball include pitchers John Parke (2017) and Austin Conway (2018).
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
Marist (N.J.) H.S.
Borowski is actually the most successful 32nd round selection in White Sox history, though he never played a game in a White Sox uniform. You see, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles on March 31, 1991 for Pete Rose, Jr. While Rose never suited up in a White Sox uniform for any official games, Borowski was able to parlay his stuff into quite a long, well-traveled career. During his 12-year career spanning 423 games and 450 innings, Borowski posted a 22-34 record, 131 saves, 4.18 ERA, .257 OBA, 177 walks, 372 strikeouts, and a bWAR of 3.6.
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
Casey merits the runner-up spot by pitching reasonably well for Triple-A Charlotte in 2014 and 2015. In those two seasons for the Knights spanning 48 games and 75 innings, he posted a 4.08 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, .276 OBA, 33 walks and 50 strikeouts. After being released prior to the 2016 season, Casey played a season with the independent Long Island Ducks but has since been out of baseball.
***Jeff Abbott was unsigned as a 32nd round pick out of Kentucky in 1992, so he’s not listed as a runner-up; he actually signed as a fourth round pick the following year and posted a career bWAR of -1.4 for the White Sox and Marlins from 1997-2001. Greg Minier (2017) is the only White Sox signed 31st rounder that is still playing in organized baseball.
American Senior (Fla.) H.S. (Miami, FL)
After toiling several years in the White Sox farm system, Vinas finally made it to Triple-A Nashville for the 1996 and 1997 seasons, but couldn’t hit better than .250 in either year. For those two seasons encompassing 195 games and 652 at-bats, Vinas slashed .235/.304/.394 with 30 doubles, four triples, 22 homers, 61 walks and 135 strikeouts. Vinas played Triple-A ball for three different organizations from 1998-2001, and despite a terrific season for Rochester in 1998 in which he slashed .352/.388/.558, he never made it to the majors. Vinas went on to manage at all full-season minor league levels of the White Sox organization from 2011-17.
Dlugach’s minor league career spanned four years, through 1976, reaching as high as Triple-A Iowa during his final year when he slashed .294/.368/.314 in 58 at-bats. In 882 at-bats in his minor league career, Dlugach’s slash line was just .249/.346/.317 with just five homers, although he posted a nifty 110-116 BB/K ratio.
***Pitcher Tony Sipp (2002) has enjoyed a long career in the majors, but didn’t sign with the White Sox. He was drafted in 2004 by the Indians and signed in the 45th round. The only White Sox signed 33rd rounder in organized baseball is Bryce Bush (2018), who has a real chance to surpass Vinas and Dlugach before all is said and done.
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Drew, son of long-time White Sox bullpen coach Curt Hasler, has surprised many by achieving what he has to date. He’s provided solid organizational depth throughout his stay in the minors, and has actually pitched a combined three games for Triple-A during the 2017-18 seasons. During his four-year minor league career to date spanning 122 games and 238 1⁄3 innings, he’s posted a respectable 3.21 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .261 OBA, 45 walks (4.5%) and 136 strikeouts (13.7%). Hasler primarily pitched for Winston-Salem last year.
Danner wins this spot primarily by default, as not many signed 34th rounders have actually advanced past Rookie League ball. Danner’s three-year career ended with a career slash line of .245/.319/.334 over 304 at-bats, reaching as high as A+ Winston-Salem during the 2015-16 seasons.
***Pitchers Geoff Zahn (1966) and Shayne Bennett (1992) both reached the majors, but were unsigned by the White Sox and drafted in later years by other organizations. Infielder Marcus Semien (2008) and pitcher Chad Bradford (1994) were unsigned but drafted in later years by the White Sox (Semien in the sixth round in 2011, Bradford in the 11th round in 1996). The only other White Sox signed 34th round pick still playing in organized baseball is pitcher Michael McCormick (2017).
Connellsville Area H.S. (Connellsville, Pa.)
Norton’s seven-year minor eague career spanned from 1970-76, ascending as high as Triple-A Denver in 1973 and 1975. His slash line for Triple-A was just .241/.297/.296 in 108 at-bats, while his career slash line wasn’t too much different over 2,386 at-bats with .235/.290/.318. While his numbers weren’t all that great, reaching Triple-A after being drafted so late is still quite an impressive feat.
Right-handed relief pitcher
Dvorsky actually pitched quite well in his three minor league seasons, culminating with a stop to A+ Winston-Salem in his final year. In 75 career games spanning 115 1⁄3 innings, he surrendered just 108 hits (.244 OBA) and 24 walks (4.9%) while striking out 118 hitters (24.2%). His career numbers were equally as good with the Dash, but ultimately decided to retire prior to the 2014 season.
***Pitchers Nate Robertson (1995) and Kyle Martin (2012) both reached the majors, but were unsigned by the White Sox and draft in later years by other organizations. The only White Sox signed 35th round pick still playing in organized baseball is pitcher Jason Morgan (2018).