In the January phase of the amateur draft that no longer exists today, the White Sox unearthed the unlikeliest of success stories. Miami Dade College’s John Cangelosi was selected with the No. 433 overall pick (including the 1981 summer draft), befitting a 5´8´´ fireplug of a player.
Cangelosi signed on May 11 and literally hit the ground running, swiping 45-of-52 bases at Low-A Niagra Falls.
Three years later, Cangelosi made his major league debut in Chicago, and in 1986 he leapfrogged the more highly-touted Daryl Boston to make the Opening Day roster as Chicago’s center fielder and leadoff hitter. He swiped 39 bases by the All-Star break, but then was benched rather curiously by midseason manager replacement Jim Fregosi.
His best hitting game with the Sox came early in 1986, when he banged out four hits in a 4-3 loss to Milwaukee at Comiskey Park on April 9.
Traded to Pittsburgh after the 1986 season, Cangelosi would play 11 more years in the big leagues, winning a World Series with the 1997 Florida Marlins. He amassed 6.1 career WAR.
Steve Carlton, who pitched a little bit with the White Sox in 1986 (4-3, 3.69 ERA, 0.7 WAR as a GM Ken Harrelson waiver-wire pickup in the second half), was elected to the Hall of Fame with near-96% first-ballot support. Brief White Sox coach Orlando Cepeda (who Bill Veeck brought back to baseball after a prison sentence, and who tried to acquire Cepeda during his first run of White Sox ownership) fell seven votes short of the 75% election threshold.
GM Ron Schueler made amends for some of his worst moves by shipping disgruntled pitcher Jamie Navarro along with pitcher John Snyder to the Milwaukee Brewers for long ball-hitting shortstop José Valentín and pitcher Cal Eldred.
Navarro lost a majors-high 43 games during his three years on the South Side, compiled -3.7 WAR and is a whisper ahead of James Shields as the worst regular-use starting pitcher in team history.
On the other hand, both Valentín and Eldred would play a large part in the unexpected division championship for the South Siders in 2000. Eldred went 10-2 in 20 starts for the team before an elbow injury in July basically ended his White Sox career. Valentín played five years with the White Sox, averaging 120 hits, 27 home runs and 76 RBIs — and he was a Cubs-killer.
One of the highlights in Jose’s White Sox stint was a very rare accomplishment — a “natural” cycle, against the Orioles on April 27, 2000. He singled in the first inning, doubled in the second, tripled in the third and homered in the eighth inning in a 13-4 win — all-in-all, 4-for-5 with five RBIs and two runs.