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2019 MLB draft: Who’s No. 2?

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We present four great options for the make-or-break pick of the draft (no, really) — the White Sox’s No. 45

Second coming of Crede: Gunnar Henderson shouldn’t be available at No. 45, but if he is, Lil Jimmy is chipping in for his signing bonus.
Auburn University

At top of this year’s draft, there are six players.

Following them, there are about 15-18 players.

The next group has about 30 players.

After that, it’s chicken salad or chicken s—-. The point is, we have a chance at a player from the last bunch with our second round pick, but only about a dozen will remain. For the last three years, Nick Hostetler has been making those picks: Alec Hansen at No. 49, Gavin Sheets at No. 49 and Steele Walker at No. 46.

These were solid picks, based on where they were chosen and who was available. There are several thoughts that Nick has shared this spring that may apply to this year’s second pick. First, he indicated that because pitching is light this year, the first two picks would likely be position players. He also noted that when he took over a few year ago the “cupboard was bare” in the system, and he drafted college heavy. But after three of his own drafts, the system is replenished, so that may change.

Let’s take a look at what players may make up the “group of 44” that will have been taken off the board.

Last year, 21 pitchers were gone by the No. 45 pick. That was in a good year for pitching. Seems about right: 22 being half of all players picked, and pitching being half the game. As most folks know, pitching this year is “not-a so good.” This year, it looks like 16 pitchers will be selected in the first 44 picks.

On the other hand, the college hitting talent pool is considered above-average this year. Usually it’s miserable. This is the best year I can recall. That said, I’d say 13 college hitters will be gone in the first 44, likewise prep hitters. That’s 26 players.

Those picks all add up to 42 players in al. leaving two players’ worth of wiggle room.

In some spots in the draft, you take a flier. Sometimes you fill out organizational needs. Sometimes you draft the GM’s daughter. With the No. 45 pick you have to say, “can this player make it to Chicago?”

On draft day, there will be players available at No. 45 who will have solid careers. After this pick, drafting gets tougher. So, you know, don’t screw up.

For almost a year, I had my eye on Gunnar Henderson, A third baseman from Selma, Ala. He reminds me of Joe Crede. People have gotten a good look at him by now, and now he’s first-round bound. If somehow he’s still there, pretty please Nick, I’ll throw in money for the bonus.

Anyway, on draft night, we will all be watching closely to see who the White Sox choose at No. 3. When you and I wake up in the morning, one other player will be in the fold. I have looked long, and hard to find the player(s) that “can make it to Chicago” who might be, should be, could be, available when the Sox pick at No. 45.

Will they take a college pitcher, a college position player, a high school pitcher, or a high school position player? Here’s a look at one of each.


College Pitcher

Mic Smith - Tim Cowie Photograph/Ball State University

Drey Jameson

Drey is a right-handed starting pitcher from Ball State. I featured him in my Players from Hoosierville article:

FanGraphs has Jameson moving up on their board, at No. 43 with a bullet. That would make Jameson our second-round pick. They write that “Jameson has flashed three plus pitches at times, so clubs can look past his smaller frame and command that comes and goes.”

That command must be “coming” more than “going” to be this high on their board. MLB Pipeline has Jameson at No. 57 [Ed. Note: now No. 49] with a fastball that touches 98 mph. He’s 94-95 all day. The curve and slider are better than average. He’s thrown 42 innings, with 69 strikeouts and a 1.06 WHIP. Hmm ... command that comes and goes but a 1.06 WHIP. Wild in the zone: huh?”

If Jameson was 6´3´´, he’d be long gone by No. 45. That’s just a fact. With three plus pitches, Drey has a starter’s makeup. Finding starters this deep in the draft isn’t easy. There won’t be a better college pitcher on the board when the White Sox pick.

This kid has moxie. Nathan Detroit told me so.


College Hitter

Scott Chandler/UCLA

Mike Toglia

Hopefully the White Sox are foregoing the height-challenged, right-handed hitting, first baseman from Cal, Andrew Vaughn, at No. 3.

Instead, let’s look at the middle of the lineup “Thumper” at UCLA, the best team in college ball. Where Gavin Sheets is 6´4´´ and 230 pounds, Toglia (the g is silent) is 6´5´´, 205. The terms “rangy” or “wiry” would apply. As a switch-hitter, Mike is equally at ease from both sides of the plate. He is from the state of Washington, where he was a two-way player, so he has a strong arm.

Mike is very athletic. Also a basketball star in high school, he thought if he was better handling the ball, his game would improve. The lefty went out to the garage, and practiced dribbling two balls at once. Once he was doing that easily, Mike talked his dad into coming out and trying to knock the balls away. That season, Toglia was one of the best players in the state, averaging 20 points plus per game.

Toglia is much better at baseball. He could be a Gold Glove-level first baseman, and is athletic enough to play a corner outfield position. He had a slow start this year, which kept his draft stock from rising early. He led UCLA last year with 58 RBIs, and has 56 this year. He’s an extra-base-hitting machine.

This year and last, over 112 games, he’s had 40 doubles, four triples and 24 home runs. Sixty-eight extra base hits in a season is hard to do.

This year, in Toglia’s first 20 games, he hit .245. But 36 games later, he’d finished at .315.

The college playoffs start today. (Sorry Mike, I hope you stink, so you’re still around for us next week.) Toglia only turns 21 in mid-August, so he’s young for his class. Young, ambidextrous, with a ton of upside. Me likey. Gimme, gimme!


High School Pitcher

@SpencerJnes

Spencer Jones

Spencer was a lock for the first round, but while throwing a pitch this spring, the southpaw felt something that turned out to be a stress fracture of the ulna. He actually came back to hit towards the end of his team’s season. A full recovery is expected.

The word is Jones would like attend college. The 6´7´´giant turned 18 this month, so he’s pretty young. Draft him, pay him over slot, Tell him go to school: “Here’s some money. Come see us next spring in Arizona. When you’re ready, we’ll send you to short season in Great Falls, we’ll shut you down when school starts.”

Seems like a lot of hassle for a kid with a fractured ulna? Yeah, well, Jones is really, really good at everything. He’s worth the hassle.

I actually fractured my left ulna and it improved the spin on my tennis serve. Maybe it will improve Jones’s curve ... it could happen!

Jones is a plus runner and can hit the ball clear out of sight. He’s also smart and seems to have a good head on his shoulders.


High School Hitter

Nasim Nuñez

You know how in sports, nobody can do a “triple, double, half-twist, somersault.” Then one kid just says, “I think I can do that,” works at it, and in time, masters it? Nasim is that kid. Super athletic. Super quick, agile, and a sponge for anything baseball-related.

He hits well from both sides of the plate, but at 5´9´´, power will likely never be part of his game. Think Leury García, but faster and better in every way. Niñez is lock to stick at short. If the White Sox draft C.J. Abrams, sure, they’ll look elsewhere when it comes to the No. 45. One thing I know for sure: Nasim is fun to watch.


So, to sum up, the White Sox need to hit on this pick. Any of these players could be fixtures in the 2025 lineup.

Mike Taglia could be a top-notch, Gold Glove first baseman.

Drey Jameson could be a South Side version of Marcus Stroman.

Spencer Jones could be a front line, left-handed monster who pounds the zone with upper 90’s heat.

Nasim Nuñez could be the second coming of Ozzie Smith.

I’d gladly take them all, but we only get one. I’ll let Nick make that choice.