Chicago

Chicago White Sox 2020 MLB Draft Primer

While baseball still hasn’t arrived and we all play the waiting game, the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft is upon us this week, starting Wednesday evening. The 2020 Draft begins at 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT) with live coverage on MLB Network and ESPN. The Draft will also stream live on MLB.com.

The first night of the Draft spans picks 1-37 — the first round and Competitive Balance Round A.

The Draft resumes with the start of the second round at 5 p.m. ET (4 p.m. CT) on MLB Network and ESPN2, plus live streaming online at MLB.com.

The five round draft is a direct result of Major League Baseball front offices looking to save money where they can during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and will save teams $29.58 million in bonuses.

The five-round draft will have 160 picks, which will be an 87-percent reduction in the number of picks from the 2019 draft, where 1,217 players were selected.

Here’s every pick for the White Sox in this year’s shortened five-round draft, with the bonus assigned for each slot. Teams can also sign an unlimited amount of undrafted free agents for up to $20,000 (previously, undrafted signees were able to sign for bonuses of up to $125,000 without the signing team incurring pool penalties), beginning on June 13.

  1. Round 1, Pick 11 – $4,547,500
  2. Round 2, Pick 47 – $1,580,200
  3. Round 3, Pick 83 – $733,100
  4. Round 4, Pick 112 – $517,400
  5. Round 5, Pick 142 – $386,600

Many national pundits have the White Sox taking a college bat, and Patrick Bailey — a catcher from North Carolina State — has most often been associated with the White Sox at No. 11. I personally couldn’t disagree more.

For the seventh consecutive year, the Sox will be picking inside the top 11 — where they pick this year — and have taken a college prospect in each of those seven drafts. The last time the White Sox took a chance on a prep prospect with a first-round pick was back in 2012, when the team used the 13th overall pick, and the 48th overall (first round supplemental pick) to draft a pair of prep stars.

I understand where that logic stems from, but I don’t think that’s the way it plays out this week. I think the White Sox will be looking to add a prep bat, or a college pitcher when they’re on the clock.

New White Sox amatuer scouting director, Mike Shirley spoke to the media on a conference call last week, and had this to say about their thoughts on high school players, “the high school players have been a little bit different due to the fact that the activity watching them play during the spring has not been there, but we spent so much of our summer on the high school player. For the most part, I want to say about 60-65 percent of the high school players we did actually see play this spring. Especially in the warmer climates of Florida, California and Texas. We did attack those players and we did get some looks at these guys.”

Shirley also pointed out that they’ve seen what they needed to see from prep talent that they have on their big board, largely due to his aggressive attack after he took this promotion last summer when Nick Hostetler was promoted to the pro scouting side.

“The best players who took a step forward in the high school class still had a chance to present themselves to us,” Shirley said. “Based off their track record of what they’ve done their junior year in high school, we start evaluating at that point.”

“To watching their offseason workout, to seeing them play in the summer, to getting to them this spring, we do have track record on a lot of these high school guys,” he continued. “So, we still feel good about this and there are high school players that are clearly in our mix that we’ve been able to evaluate, interview and get to know and show comfort where we have them.”

I think that the White Sox, who have a bevy of premium talent now at the major-league level including Nick Madrigal who will likely make his debut as part of the expanded rosters that we will see if/when baseball returns in 2020, will take a high-upside prep bat in the opening round.

Outside of the high-upside prep pick in Round 1, the White Sox need to address their left-handed pitching void, which they can do in the middle rounds. This draft is super deep with college pitching, making it a good play to use rounds two-four to address that need.

“It’s a deep draft,” Shirley said. “It’s a heavy pitching draft and it’s a depth of college pitching and there are high school pitchers we really like. So, the bulk of what we think the depths of this thing will be in five rounds – the pitching is out front.”

Mike Shirley on the depth of pitchers that the 2020 draft features.

Even MLB.com’s Jim Callis, who has mocked Bailey to the White Sox numerous times over the past few weeks told NBC Sports Chicago’s Chuck Garfien on a recent episode of the White Sox Talk Podcast, that he doesn’t think the Sox will end up taking the N.C. State backstop.

Callis mentioned prep catcher — and likely eventual third-baseman — Tyler Soderstrom, Louisville southpaw Reid Detmers, and high school bats like shortstop Ed Howard, and outfielder Robert Hassell as possible picks for the White Sox at No. 11.

James Fox over at Future Sox has the White Sox taking Detmers at No. 11 on Wednesday evening in his latest mock draft. I love the idea of adding Reid Detmers in the first round, but I doubt that he’s still on the board when the White Sox are picking.

Photo: University of Louisville Athletics

While Detmers doesn’t have the best “stuff,” in the 2020 draft, the left-hander from Louisville is a strike-throwing workhorse.

At 6-2, 210-pounds, Detmers threw 113 innings in his sophomore season at Louisville, striking out 167 opposing hitters while walking just 33. That’s good for a K/9 of 13.3, all while walking only 7.4 percent of all hitters that he faced.

In 55 innings as a freshman, Detmers still had a gaudy K/9 rate (11.2) but struggled with control (5.5 BB/9). Louisville sent Detmers to the Cape Cod League to work on the walks, and he did just that, walking only seven hitters in just under 28 innings of work.

You can read my prospect profile on Detmers, here.

For my money, if Detmers is off the board I’m taking Mount Carmel product, Ed Howard.

Howard is a refined prep hitter with plus bat speed and a nice compact swing to compliment the best glove in the draft at his position, topped off with speed that’s nothing to scoff at.

Eddy Howard has been tremendous. We feel like we have a great relationship with that kid and he’s been nothing but a tremendous citizen; someone Chicago should be very proud of. He set himself apart last summer, last fall. We’ve been scouting that guy for a while now, so I think what he’s done for himself personally is only going to make himself valuable regardless if you had a chance to see him or not. Would it had helped if he played 10-15 games? Absolutely. That always helps you. I like Ed Howard a lot. I like the family. I wish him the best. He’s a player we continue to talk about. We like Ed Howard.

Mike Shirley on Mount Carmel H.S. shortstop Ed Howard

Howard is a Chicago kid who has been groomed for years by the White Sox in the Ametuer City Elite travel baseball program, and he’s the best shortstop in the draft. His defense is already better than Tim Anderson, and his bat will play at the major-league level.

Ed Howard’s biggest strength — and this is not to take away from his bat — is his glove. Howard isn’t the typical athletic high school infielder, who might or might not stick at shortstop as he makes his way through the system. He’s a no-doubt shortstop, plain and simple.

Photo: Quinn Harris via Max Preps

The six-foot-two, 185-pounder possesses smooth hands with an arm that’s equally strong and accurate. With tons of athleticism and fluidity, he can make throws from all over the position, and usually shows a calm control over his process. He doesn’t panic, or rush on the balls that take him deep in the hole or turn him away from first base.

He’s probably the best defender at the shortstop position in the draft, and he’ll be able to do it at the next level.

Looking beyond the first round, the White Sox have to begin to address their need for left-handed pitching. In my five-round mock draft for the White Sox, I went with Wake Forest Jared Shuster in Round 2.

Shuster came out this spring hitting 96-97 with his fastball from the left side to go along with a strong changeup and developing slider. At 6-3, 210 pounds, Shuster has excellent starter traits, and had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic ending his season early, he would have possibly shot into the first round.

My plan of attack for the White Sox in this draft was simple, take a high-upside high school prospect in the opening round, attack the left-handed pitching void in the middle rounds, and grab a college outfielder at some point to add to a minor league stable of outfield prospects with a ton of question marks, that will eventually be filling the right field spot in Chicago.

However it plays out, Mike Shirley believes that the White Sox are prepared to handle whatever comes their way in this week’s draft. “We feel like from pick one to 150, we feel good about where we have the players on the board,” he said. “We’re excited about where the White Sox are. There is so much exhilaration about where this organization is and to continue to add to this and make this thing right is what we’re all excited for.”


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