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 is the fourth 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 16th-20th rounds.
Bellaire H.S. (Bellaire, Texas)
Chris Young is far and away the most successful signed selection the White Sox have made in the 16th round. Unfortunately, his entire major league career was played on teams away from the South Side. Young worked his way up through the Sox system, and slashed a solid .277/.377/.545 in pitching-friendly Birmingham in 2005 at 22 years old. Unfortunately, he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks along with Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and Luis Vizcaino for pitcher Javier Vazquez in December of that year. During his 13-year playing career, much of it spent with the Diamondbacks, Young compiled a .235/.314/.428 slash line and 16.1 bWAR. He slugged 191 homers and swiped 142 bases. His best season may have been 2010 for Arizona, when he slashed .257/.341/.452 with 27 homers, 91 RBIs, 74 walks and 28 stolen bases. Young shone in the postseason in 60 at-bats, with a .313/.450/.688 slash line with five homers.
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
University of Akron
Unlike Young, Bassitt actually has spent a portion of a season with the White Sox. After unexpectedly rising through the Sox system, Bassitt pitched respectably in his 29 2⁄3 innings in late 2014, with a 3.94 ERA and 3.33 FIP. In December of that year, he was traded to the Oakland A’s with Rangel Ravelo, Josh Phegley and Marcus Semien for pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Michael Ynoa. Bassitt has been hounded with bad luck so far in the majors, with injuries and poor offensive support. While he’s posted respectable numbers of a 3.86 ERA, 3.98 FIP, and 149 strikeouts over 191 1⁄3 innings over his four-year career, Bassitt has only managed a 4-14 record. Much of his stay with Oakland has been beset with injuries, and he began the 2019 season on the injured list with a lower-knee contusion. As it is, though, Bassitt has posted the second best bWAR (2.0) of any signed Sox 16th rounder through the beginning of the 2019 season.
Other players signed by the Sox who have spent time in the majors include catcher Chuck Brinkman (1966), pitcher Stan Perzanowski (1968) and outfielder Nyls Nyman (1972). Pitcher Dan O’Brien (1975) also made it to the majors, but he didn’t sign with the Sox after being picked. Aside from Bassitt, catcher Ty Greene (2018) and pitcher Ben Wright (2016) are the only White Sox signed 16th rounders currently playing in organized baseball.
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Lamar C.C. (Lamar, Colo.)
McCarthy quickly moved up the ranks in the White Sox system, thanks to years like 2004 (split among three levels) when he went 17-6 with a 3.14 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 202 strikeouts in 172 innings. After doing well with Charlotte in 2005, McCarthy pitched well in 12 games (10 starts) for the Sox with a 4.03 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, but didn’t earn a spot on the postseason roster due to the quality depth in that year’s rotation. After pitching primarily out of the bullpen in 2006, he was traded to the Texas Rangers along with David Paisano for John Danks, Jake Rasner and Nick Masset. Primarily due to injuries, McCarthy wasn’t able to reach the heights many fans had expected of him for his career. Nonetheless, he posted a 4.20 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 69 wins and 9.6 bWAR over a 13-year career that concluded last season with Atlanta Braves. Not too shabby for a 17th rounder.
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
Drees, a soft-tossing southpaw reliever who stood 6´6´´, toiled for seven years before finally earning a major league opportunity in 1991 with the White Sox. Despite allowing more walks than strikeouts, Drees somehow managed to post credible ERA and WHIP stats. Drees’s best year in the minors was actually as a starter in 1998 for Birmingham, posting a 2.79 ERA and 1.27 WHIP for the Barons over 158 innings while walking 52 and fanning 94. Unfortunately for Drees, walking hitters doesn’t bode well for a great major league career. In his four outings totaling 7 1⁄3 innings with the White Sox, he posted a 12.27 ERA and 2.18 WHIP and allowed 10 hits and six walks while punching out just two hitters. Drees pitched in the Seattle Mariners, Rangers and Minnesota Twins organizations the following two years but couldn’t get further than Triple-A. However, that doesn’t stop him from being the second-most successful White Sox 17th rounder, thanks to his -0.3 bWAR.
Pitcher Jeff Holly (1971) and catcher Marv Foley (1975) also made it to the majors after signing with the Sox in the 17th round. Unsigned White Sox picks who made it to the majors include outfielders Terry Bogener (1976) and Brian Goodwin (2009), along with pitcher Calvin Schiraldi (1980). Infielder Travis Moniot (2017) and pitcher Blake Battenfield (2016) are the only White Sox signed 17th rounders who are still playing in organized baseball.
LaGrange H.S. (LaGrange, Ga.)
Mike Cameron is not only the most successful 18th rounder in White Sox history, he is also one of the most successful draft selections in White Sox history. Cameron’s major league career spanned 17 years (1995-2011) and eight teams, with the first four of those seasons spent in a White Sox uniform. Cameron’s best year for the South Siders was in 1997, when he slashed .259/.356/.433 with 14 homers, 55 RBIs, and 23 stolen bases. However, after struggling mightily the following year with a .210/.285/.336 line, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for future World Series hero Paul Konerko. Cameron’s career year came in the Mariners’ amazing 116-46 season in 2001, when he slashed .267/.353/.480 with 25 homers, 110 RBIs, 34 stolen bases and his first Gold Glove. Cameron’s career numbers were .249/.338/.444, 278 homers, 968 RBIs, 297 stolen bases, 46.7 bWAR, and three Gold Gloves. Not only did the White Sox “lose” the Konerko trade (PK mustered just 27.7 bWAR in his career), but Cameron certainly avenged his trade from the Sox on May 2, 2002, when he hit four homers in one game against his old team (the first off Jon Rauch, the final three off Jim Parque).
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
It didn’t take long for Frost to work his way up the Sox system, as he made his major league debut on Sept. 11, 1977. That season, in four appearances (three starts) for the South Side Hit Men, he was 1-1 with a 3.04 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. That happened to be his one and only season for the White Sox, as in the offseason he was traded to the California Angels along with Brian Downing and Chris Knapp for Bobby Bonds, Thad Bosley and Richard Dotson (who was one of the aces for the 1983 squad). Frost posted a 33-37 record and 6.2 bWAR over his six-year MLB career while posting a 4.10 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. His best year for the Angels in their division-winning 1979 season when he went 16-10 over 239 1⁄3 innings, as he posted solid ERA and WHIP numbers of 3.57 and 1.27. Although he walked only 2.8 hitters per nine innings, he fanned an abysmal 3.6 per nine.
First baseman Mike Squires (1973), a defensive stalwart, enjoyed a nice 10-year career with the Sox, even playing two innings as a left-handed catcher in 1980, but only amassed a bWAR of 0.3. Unsigned 18th rounders who played in the majors after signing elsewhere include pitchers Sam McConnell (1994) and Lucas Luetge (2006), along with outfielder Scott Hairston (1999). The only White Sox signed 18th rounders currently in organized baseball are outfielder Romy González (2018) and pitcher Tanner Banks (2014).
Lubbock Christian University
In just short two seasons after being drafted, Velarde found himself playing for the White Sox’ Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons. However, after the 1986 season, he was traded to the New York Yankees along with Pete Filson for Mike Soper and Scott Nielsen. As a result, Velarde spent his entire 15-year MLB career with teams other than the White Sox. Although he spent parts of 10 seasons with the Yankees, his best season arguably was split between the Angels and A’s in 1999, when he slashed .317/.390/.455 with 16 homers, 76 RBIs, 24 stolen bases and 70 walks. For his career, the infielder compiled a .276/.352/.408 line with 214 doubles, 100 homers, 445 RBIs, 78 stolen bases, and 24.9 bWAR in nearly 1,300 games.
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
Like most successful late-round picks, Keyser slowly worked up the minor league system. He spent seven years toiling, before his consistently solid results finally earned him his big break on June 2, 1995, when he provided a quality start against the Detroit Tigers. Unfortunately for Keyser, he didn’t have the optimum stuff to fuel a long MLB career. Keyser pitched parts of 1995 and 1996 with the Sox, compiling a 6-8 record, 4.97 ERA, 1.63 WHIP and 0.9 bWAR over 152 innings as he surrendered 192 hits and 55 walks (8.1%) while fanning 67 (9.9%).
Outfielder Adam Engel (2013) and pitcher Aaron Bummer (2014) are signed picks who, of course, are still playing in the Sox organization; however, they’ve yet to attain Keyser’s career bWAR of 0.9 so they can’t be awarded runner-up status. Other signed picks who’ve made the majors include Glenn Redmon (1969), Dewey Robinson (1977), and Chris Heintz (1996). Outfielders Luis García (1994) and Jordan Danks (2005) were unsigned by the White Sox, but played in the majors after being drafted in subsequent years (Danks signed with the Sox after being selected in 2008’s seventh round). Aside from Engel and Bummer, catcher Gabriel Ortiz (2018) is the only other White Sox signed 19th round pick still playing in organized baseball.
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
University of Florida
Despite being drafted in the 20th round, Ross Baumgarten (a product of New Trier High School) was rushed rapidly through the White Sox farm system — earning a quality start in his MLB debut against the Rangers on Aug. 16, 1978. At the time, he was one of a heralded class of South Side southpaws along with Richard “Tex” Wortham, Steve Trout, and Ken Kravec that constituted an unorthodox, four-left rotation in 1979. Baumgarten’s first full season in 1979 provided his most wins, as he posted a 13-8 record with a 3.54 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. Interestingly, his numbers in 1980 were actually better with a 3.44 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, but he foreshadowed “Quintana Offense Droughtitis” by posting a 2-12 record in his 24 outings. Baumgarten struggled toward the end of his five-year career with the Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates, as his inability to put hitters away ultimately did him in. His career 3.8 BB/9 rate was barely eclipsed by his 4.0 K/9 rate. Nonetheless, with a career 5.1 bWAR, Baumgarten ranks as the most successful 20th rounder in White Sox history.
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
Temple College (Temple, Texas)
Though Baumgarten may be the most successful 20th rounder to date based on bWAR, Boone Logan definitely has him beat on longevity. After struggling badly in his first three MLB years (2006-08) with the White Sox with a 5.87 ERA and 1.69 WHIP, it appeared that Logan’s career would be short-lived. Then he was traded in December 2008 to the Braves with Javier Vazquez for Jon Gilmore, Santos Rodriguez, Tyler Flowers and Brent Lillibridge. Little did Sox fans know that he would pitch for an additional 10 years after the trade. His career numbers through 2018 aren’t especially exciting: 4.50 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 2.3 bWAR, and no saves in 635 career outings. However, with 479 strikeouts over 442 innings, Logan carved a nice little niche for himself as a LOOGY. Unless claimed as a free agent, his last year appears to have been in 2018 with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Third baseman Bruce Miller (1970) is the only other 20th rounder who’s played in the majors. Infielder Jimmy Galusky (2018) and pitcher Matt Foster (2016) are the only White Sox signed 20th rounders still playing in organized baseball.