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White Sox seek biggest impact with No. 17 pick in Draft

Outfield depth in Minors may lead club to look at middle infielders

White Sox seek biggest impact with No. 17 pick in Draft play video for White Sox seek biggest impact with No. 17 pick in Draft

CHICAGO -- Marching orders for White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann focus on taking the best player available with the 17th pick in the first round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

That direction wouldn't rank as unusual for any team drafting in the range of the White Sox, especially with what's considered a lack of elite game-changers in this year's class.

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But for the White Sox, it's best player with a slight caveat.

Their Minor League system, which does not exactly qualify as stacked by almost all accounts, does have a plethora of top outfield prospects and high Draft selections such as Jared Mitchell, Trayce Thompson, Keenyn Walker and Courtney Hawkins, who was taken 13th overall in last year's Draft.

So another outfielder doesn't look to be in play this time around with that top selection.

"It's more so not necessarily targeting a position as possibly staying away from a certain area," said Laumann. "I'm not sure it makes much sense to add another outfielder. If we have any strength at all [in the Minors], that's the group, that's the one.

"As long as I've been doing this, I've never been told by anyone in our front office to do that or do this. But in my mind, it would have to be a guy way above and I don't see that happening. I don't think that guy exists [where we are drafting]."

The 2013 First-Year Player Draft will take place Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday at 5 p.m. CT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 6 p.m., with the top 73 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 11:30 a.m., and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 12 p.m.

MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

In talking about the sort of player the White Sox might take, general manager Rick Hahn mentions someone who plays up the middle and carries the fallback alternative of moving to a corner. The White Sox aren't exactly full of middle-infield prospects beyond Carlos Sanchez (No. 4), Marcus Semien (No. 16) and Joey DeMichelle (No. 17) on MLB.com's list of Top 20 Prospects in the organization.

Laumann sees pitching always as an option, with yet another caveat because of the '13 Draft talent pool.

"There's such a separation with that group of guys at the top, in Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray and Braden Shipley," Laumann said. "By the time we get to No. 17, I don't know that there's going to be a guy there that we feel is in the class with Erik Johnson and Chris Beck, who we got previously in the 50s."

One other difference in this Draft falls on where the team's direction currently stands. In 2008, the White Sox selected Gordon Beckham at No. 8 overall and then they took Chris Sale at No. 13 in 2010. Beckham reached the Majors as the team's third baseman in 2009, and Sale was part of the White Sox bullpen just two months after the conference call to announce his pick.

Both were accomplished collegiate talents who could fill an immediate need for a contending team. Both remain key components on the current big league club.

With that focus on contending still in place but also on building up the system, the White Sox won't be drafting for need. Factor in the 17th spot in the Draft, and it's all about the best player available, even if he ends up being an outfielder.

"When you are picking 17th, it's kind of foolish to say we have a need at the Major League level that we are going to address through this Draft that's going to arise in the next 18 months," Hahn said. "Every so often you get a special player like [Sale] who comes through and you see the fit at the big league level, but that's certainly not the marching orders.

"Ideally, it's probably a premium position guy any year, regardless of where you sit. That's the breadth of the marching orders, but it's more about taking the best available talent. If we are sitting at two players that our scouts feel equally strongly about, and one of them is a middle infielder and one of them is an outfielder, given our organizational depth, we may well error on the side of the middle infielder.

"But if there's a disparity, we are not going to shy away from taking a talented player even though we already have depth at that position," Hahn concluded.

Here's a glance at what the White Sox have in store as the Draft approaches:

In about 50 words
Laumann calls this Draft a "weird year," in that he and his staff have exhausted "every possibility" through their extensive scouting across the country but still haven't definitively figured out who fits for the White Sox because of the uncertainty above their pick. Look for a college pitcher or as Hahn pointed out, some sort of middle infield talent at this spot.

The scoop
The White Sox probably could have a higher percentage of picks from the first eight to 10 rounds reaching the Majors if they simply were looking for big league-ready talent. But Hahn has picked up where Ken Williams left off, in that he wants Laumann and his staff to "reach for the stars" in the first couple of picks.

"Get guys that make a difference, make an impact and have a high ceiling," Laumann said.

Again, that idea might be tough to achieve at No. 17. The White Sox top two picks in '12, Hawkins and Keon Barnum, were both high school players, with Hawkins becoming the club's first high school top pick since right-handed pitcher Kris Honel at No. 16 in 2001. Nothing is really off the table for this year's Draft.

First-round buzz
Names such as junior college shortstop Tim Anderson, Mississippi St. outfielder Hunter Renfroe and Oral Roberts right-handed pitcher Alex Gonzalez have been attached to the White Sox. The Anderson connection might have come from Williams being in attendance to watch him play, but Laumann said that Williams has scouted 10 to 12 Draft prospects. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo has the White Sox taking Jacksonville right-handed pitcher Chris Anderson in his most recent Mock Draft.

Money matters
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of  first- and second-round picks. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

The White Sox have a total of $5,301,600 to spend, which ranks them 24th overall. They have an average of $530,160, with their pick at No. 17 slotted at $2,164,000, their pick at 55 slotted at $1,001,800 and their pick at 91 slotted at $575,400.

Shopping list
Middle infield stands as a weak spot because of the White Sox previous inactivity in the Latin American market for a 3-5 year period, according to Laumann. The White Sox might fill that void through international spending. The organization has outfield depth and catching depth, but won't shy away from those positions if the talent is a clear-cut fit at 17.

Trend watch
As mentioned earlier, the Hawkins pick in 2013 broke a long streak of collegiate players selected in the first round by the organization. They have taken position players with their top selection in four of the last five Drafts.

Recent Draft History
2012: Courtney Hawkins, OF, Class A Winston-Salem
2011: Keenyn Walker, OF, Double-A Birmingham
2010: Chris Sale, SP, Chicago White Sox
2009: Jared Mitchell, OF, Double-A Birmingham
2008: Gordon Beckham, 2B, Chicago White Sox

Rising fast
Johnson was a second-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft but could be the next significant addition to the White Sox starting rotation. The right-hander impressed during an extended look as part of this past Spring Training and has posted a 4-2 record with a 2.15 ERA over 10 starts this season for Double-A Birmingham. Also keep an eye on left-handed starter Scott Snodgress, a fifth-round pick in 2011.

Cinderella story
Hector Santiago, a 30th-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, just might be the most versatile pitcher among the team's current pitching staff. Santiago started the 2012 season as the team's closer, moved seamlessly into the starting rotation and now has returned to the bullpen. With five pitches, including the now rare screwball, Santiago figures to return as a starter in the not too distant future.

In The Show
Sale, Beckham and Santiago are joined by Nate Jones, Addison Reed and Brian Omogrosso as White Sox Draft picks currently on the team's active roster. Reed has emerged as one of the American League's top closer. 

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"event":["draft_central" ,"prospect" ] }
{"event":["draft_central" ,"prospect" ] }