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 11th-15th rounds.
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
University of Houston
After being drafted in 1983 by the White Sox, Drabek rapidly moved up the Sox system to Double-A Glens Falls, where he posted a 12-5 record, 2.24 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over 124 2⁄3 innings through August 13, 1984. On that date, he was traded to the New York Yankees along with Kevin Hickey for veteran shortstop Roy Smalley. While Smalley slashed a whopping .170/.285/.289 for the Sox in his 47-game stint on the South Side, Drabek produced quite well in his 13-year MLB career. He won the 1990 National League Cy Young Award by going 22-6 for the Pittsburgh Pirates with a nifty 2.76 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Over the course of his career (which included one year back with the White Sox in 1997), Drabek compiled 155 victories, 3.73 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 3.82 FIP, 1,594 strikeouts, 53 complete games, 21 shutouts, and a 29.2 bWAR. While Drabek’s fastball was decent, especially during his prime, his curveball was easily his most effective offering. One small side note: Drabek’s son, Kyle, also pitched for the Sox (albeit briefly) in 2015.
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
Levine enjoyed an under-the-radar, 10-year MLB career spending time with the White Sox, and six other teams from 1996-2005. He struggled in his first two MLB seasons in Chicago, where he combined to post a 6.40 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in his 41 relief appearances. On Dec. 19, 1997, he was traded with Larry Thomas to the Texas Rangers for shortstop Benji Gil. Levine, like many middle relievers, was a journeyman, but he enjoyed his best year with the Angels in 2001 when he won eight games and saved two with a solid 2.38 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 75 2⁄3 innings. Overall his career spanned 416 games and 572 1⁄3 innings, and he won 24 games, saved 10, and posted a 3.96 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 278 strikeouts, and a 5.9 bWAR.
Other players signed by the Sox who have spent time in the majors include outfielder Rusty Kuntz (1977), and pitchers Tom Fordham (1993), Kevin Beirne (1995), Charles Leesman (2008), and Ian Hamilton (2016). In addition to Hamilton, other White Sox signed 11th rounders still playing in organized baseball include pitchers Danny Dopico (2015) and Will Kincanon (2017), and shortstop Kelvin Maldonado (2018).
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
Groom began his career in the Sox organization as a starting pitcher, reaching as high as Double-A Birmingham in 1989 and 1990 but struggling with a combined 4.74 ERA and 1.53 WHIP for the Barons in those two years. Thus it was no surprise when the Sox left him eligible for the 1990 minor league draft, allowing the Detroit Tigers to stake their claim on him. Over a 14-year career spanning six teams from 1992 to 2005, Groom pitched in 786 games totaling 734 2⁄3 innings while compiling a 4.64 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 31 wins, 27 saves, 494 strikeouts, and 6.7 bWAR. Groom’s best season was in 2001 with the Baltimore Orioles, when he posted a miniscule 1.60 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 70 games (66 innings) while surrendering just 44 hits and 12 walks while fanning 48.
Riverside (Calif.) C.C.
Stewart is the epitome of a journeyman catcher, as he’s currently toiling for the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A squad in El Paso — 18 years after he was drafted by the White Sox. Stewart, after six years in the minors, made his MLB debut with the Sox on Sept. 6, 2006. Stewart went hitless for the White Sox in eight at-bats, and was subsequently traded the next offseason to the Rangers for pitcher John Lujan. Stewart played in 12 MLB seasons from 2006-18 (he didn’t reach the majors in 2009) for eight different squads, and has slashed .230/.297/.291 in his 457 career games and 1,334 at-bats with nine career homers and 90 RBIs. Stewart’s career bWAR is 1.5, and the most MLB at-bats he enjoyed in any year was in 2013 with the Yankees.
Other signed 12th-rounders who made it to the majors include outfielders Mark Davis (1986) and Jimmy Hurst (1990), along with infielder Doug Brady (1991). Pitcher Donny Veal (2003) was the only pick the White Sox failed to sign who made it to the majors. Aside from Stewart, other White Sox signed 12th rounders still playing in organized baseball include pitchers Connor Walsh (2014) and Isaiah Carranza (2018), catcher Seby Zavala (2015), and infielders Mitch Roman (2016) and Justin Yurchak (2017).
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
University of Southern Mississippi
It didn’t take long for the submarining Bradford to move up in the White Sox system, as he made 29 appearances for the White Sox just two years after being drafted. Bradford actually pitched parts of three seasons for the Sox, and excelled in a brief 12-game stint with the team for the division-winning squad in 2000 when he posted a microscopic 1.98 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 13 2⁄3 innings. For a brief time, he was the right-handed equivalent of southpaw submariner Kelly Wunsch. On Dec. 7, 2000, Bradford was traded to the A’s for catcher Miguel Olivo. Bradford pitched 12 years (1998-2009) for six teams, and compiled 32 wins, nine saves, 3.26 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 313 strikeouts and a 10.1 bWAR over his 515 2⁄3 innings. He was even better in postseason in 24 outings, as he posted a ridiculous 0.39 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 23 1⁄3 innings, surrendering just 18 hits and six walks while fanning 13.
Pasadena (Calif.) City College
Hosey actually struggled during his two years in the White Sox system, combining with Utica and South Bend to slash just .226/.301/.280 in 1988, in 318 at-bats with just two homers. Stealing 37 bases that year wasn’t enough to prevent Hosey from being released by the White Sox. He eventually worked his way through several organizations before winning his big break with the Boston Red Sox in the 1995 and 1996 seasons. Hosey had an incredible run in his rookie season, when he slashed .338/.408/.618 in 68 at-bats with three homers. While the 1996 season wasn’t as kind, Hosey’s career numbers aren’t bad at all: .274/.342/.466 over 164 at-bats with 10 doubles, three triples, four homers, 12 stolen bases, and 1.3 bWAR.
Other signed 13th-rounders who made it to the majors include pitchers Al Jones (1991), Rod Bolton (1990), Mike Heathcott (1991) and Jack Egbert (2001), along with infielder Craig Wilson (1992). Infielder Pat Keedy (1976) was the only pick unsigned by the White Sox who made it to the majors. White Sox signed 13th-rounders still playing in organized baseball include infielders Michael Hickman (2016) and Tate Blackman (2017), along with pitcher Jason Bilous (2018).
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
Brookline (Mass.) H.S.
The 14th round has been a black hole when it comes to the White Sox developing major league talent. Moloney is the only signed 14th rounder to ever make it to the ultimate level. He pitched solid baseball in the Sox system, with a career-best 1.45 ERA and 0.97 WHIP for the team’s rookie league and Class-A affiliates. Moloney made his major league debut on Sept. 26, 1970 against the Minnesota Twins and pitched one scoreless inning allowing two hits but fanning one (Jim Holt). At just older than 20 years of age, Moloney was the third-youngest player in the majors when he made his debut. Unfortunately, that turned out to be the only game of his MLB career.
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Rodriguez pitched for three different schools in his collegiate career (Southern Nevada, Arizona, UNLV), and really wasn’t all that impressive in his senior season with the Rebels as he posted a 5.15 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. Nevertheless, Rodriguez spent five years in the White Sox system and reached Triple-A Charlotte twice (2008-09). Although his combined numbers in those two seasons were respectable (56 G, 93 1⁄3 IP, 3.37 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 80 H, 38 BB, 88 K), Rodriguez never made it to the majors. However, because he posted the best Triple-A numbers among the signed 14th rounders, he merits the coveted status of this round’s runner-up.
Infielders Bobby Meacham (1978) and Keith Johns (1989) were unsigned by the White Sox, but played in the majors after being drafted in subsequent years. Outfielder Alex Destino (2017) and pitcher Davis Martin (2018) are the only other White Sox signed 14th round picks still playing in organized baseball.
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
Louisiana State University
Despite going 12-6 with a 1.99 ERA for LSU during his senior season, Sitotka fell to the 15th round due to lack of leverage and and absence of optimum velocity. Sirotka quickly wended his way through South Bend, Birmingham and Nashville by excelling at every stop, and made his MLB debut on July 19, 1995 by hurling a quality start against the Red Sox. Sirotka pitched six seasons for the White Sox (1995-2000), saving perhaps his best for last, starring for the 2000 AL Central Division champs with a 15-10 record, 3.79 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 69 walks and 128 strikeouts in just fewer than 200 innings. He was infamously traded on Jan. 14, 2001 to the Toronto Blue Jays along with Mike Williams, Brian Simmons, and Kevin Beirne for David Wells and Matt DeWitt in what was eventually dubbed the “Shouldergate” trade by new White Sox GM Kenny Williams. Sirotka likely was injured at the time of the trade, but Williams didn’t turn over all information regarding Sirotka’s shoulder. Interestingly, commissioner Bud Selig refused to overturn the trade. Ultimately, Sirotka never pitched a game for Toronto, ending up with career numbers of 45-42, 4.31 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, nine complete games, 435 strikeouts and a 9.9 bWAR in 710 1⁄3 innings.
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
Kansas State University
Carlos Torres was a well-traveled collegian, a journeyman status that actually has carried over to the professional ranks. He pitched for four schools in college: Allan Hancock College, Grossmont College, San Jose State, and Kansas State. His results were decent with the Wildcats, but certainly nothing to get too excited about (4.12 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 76 strikeouts in 113 2⁄3 innings). Torres slowly worked his way through the White Sox system, earning his MLB debut on July 22, 2009 with a quality start against the Tampa Bay Rays. After struggling badly in his two years with the White Sox, he was released. Then, after struggling in Japan in 2011 with the Yomiuri Giants in 2011, Torres found his way back to the majors, where he’s played for the past next seven years. Torres’ best season to date was 2016 with the Milwaukee Brewers, when he posted a 2.73 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 78 strikeouts in 82 1⁄3 relief innings. So far during his nine-year MLB career (which has also included stops with the New York Mets, Colorado Rockies and Washington Nationals), Torres has pitched in 358 games totaling just fewer than 500 innings, with a respectable 4.04 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 439 strikeouts and a 3.9 bWAR. Torres is currently pitching in Triple-A for the Padres.
The only other signed 15th-rounder who has played in the majors was infielder Chris Carter (2005). Picks unsigned by the White Sox who made it to the majors include pitchers John Montague (1965), Mike Thompson (1966), and Nate Robertson (1998). In addition to Torres, other White Sox signed 15th-rounders still playing in organized baseball include pitchers Jordan Guerrero (2012), Jake Elliott (2016), and Luke Shilling (2018), along with outfielder Tyler Frost (2017).