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2019 MLB draft: There’s Hoosiers in the backyard!

We know the White Sox scour Indiana for draft picks, year after year — here’s a look at the team’s most likely targets

Big upside: Drey Jameson is the top draft candidate out of Indiana in 2019.
Ball State

If you are playing baseball in Indiana, the chances are good that the Chicago White Sox are watching you.

Director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler lives in Louisville, and between there and Chicago is nothing but miles and miles of Indiana. For decades, the White Sox have scouted and drafted heavily in the state. Every year, the state names its top player “Indiana Mr. Baseball,” and in 2001 it was Wes Whisler. Wes was so beloved, he spent 10 years in the White Sox system. Whistler finally appeared in Chicago, for just more than an inning, over three games in 2009. I personally saw him eight different years on the back fields. You will indeed be remembered, Mr. Baseball.

Two other players on that Indiana list you may recall: Clayton Richard, he of the beaming, 1,000-watt smile, and Josh Phegley, a good-bat, passed-ball machine. Both are still playing ball — just not here.

A more recent player we should all remember is Alex Call. I had high hopes for him ... oh, well. Then there was a 2010 pick, Micheal Early, a favorite of mine. Early made it all the way to Charlotte in his six years of servitude to the South Side.

This brings us to last year’s fifth round pick, right-handed starting pitcher Johnathan Stiever, currently ranked as South Side Sox’s No. 27 Prospect. The kid looks pretty good to me.

So all of this is to say: Yes, we will most likely draft a player from Indiana this year. Let’s take a look at what the state has to offer, shall we?

One high school player stands out.

Avery Short

Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
210 pounds

Avery (AJ to his pals, and Avery to only his mother) has a starter’s repertoire: Four pitches, all average to above average, except his curve, which is plus. Short uses the same motion to throw everything. which keeps hitters off-balance. He has a Carlos Rodón build, and tops out at 92-93 mph, but lives at 89-90. He’s just 18, so there’s upside. MLB Pipeline has him at No. 95 on their Top 100. Good for him. The third or fourth round seems likely. Short is a high-floor, low-ceiling player. He looks durable, with a starter’s makeup.

OK, now let’s look at some college players.

Matt Gorski

200 pounds
First Base/Outfield

Gorski, who plays for Indiana University, had a .356 batting average a season ago, Gorski hit eight home runs and 40 RBI on his way to a First Team All-Big Ten selection. This year, he’s hit 11 home runs in his first 41 games. He looks like he will be a fifth to seventh round selection, and if the home runs keep coming, maybe higher. And he’s got speed: 54-of-57 stolen bases over 151 games stands out. He has a short, quick swing, which I like. Good luck, kid.

It’s all pitchers, all the time from here on out.

Adam Lukas

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher

Pitching at a smaller school, University of Evansville, Baseball America said Lukas was a small school pitcher to watch at the start of this season. He struck out 9.3 batters per nine innings in 2018, 72 strikeouts in 62 innings this year. He has more walks than you would like, though. He seems to fit in the same fifth to seventh round range as Gorski. Lukas has te classic size to carry a starter’s load. It’s been difficult to find out what he throws, other than a fastball.

Bryan Hoeing

Right-Handed Relief Pitcher

Hoeing pitches for the University of Louisville — I know, not Indiana. But Bryan hails from the vacation capital of the state, Batesville, Ind., “ a thriving city committed to faith, family, education,” known for making caskets ... yikes!

When Bryan is away at school, the population goes down to 6,499 people.

Hoeing will start a game from time to time, but his future is in relief. This year, he has 53 strikeouts in 43 innings, against only 11 walks. That’s pitching for a big-time program, so not chicken liver by any means. Hoeing would be a senior sign; he was taken late last year (36th round) by the San Francisco Giants. Hoeing fits the mold of a “classic” White Sox under-slot senior signing. Look for him to go in rounds six through nine. Word to your mother.

John Baker

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher

Baker’s a Ball State product, a solid program. And the righty has had solid results, mostly as a starter. Between last year and this, he’s thrown 115 innings, with 144 strikeouts, 91 hits, and 40 walks. He’s a hard-throwing, come right at you type: “I’m throwing strikes, so you better swing.” Hard to say where Baker is going to go. I’m guessing fifth round or later. Plenty of scouts will have a chance to see John because he plays alongside the best player in Indiana. And that is ...

Drey Jameson

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
165 pounds, soaking wet

FanGraphs has Jameson moving up on their board, at No. 43 with a bullet. That would make Jameson our second-round pick. FanGraphs writes 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, 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?

That’s the sort of stuff that gets you noticed. Jameson a solid second round talent. If his size keeps him off the board on Day 1, He will be right at the top of the White Sox draft board, who pick third on Day 2.

It’s dollars to donuts the Sox have had a very good look at all of these players, and most will be somewhere on their draft board. You are wondering: Why does Jimmy like Indiana? Well, I don’t. Don’t get me started on Indiana.

But I do have one question for y’all: What is a Hoosier, anyway, and do they bite?

Counting on you, KP.