CHICAGO -- The White Sox are getting to know their potential top picks in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft beyond scouting reports, the on-field eye test and game video.
With the third selection overall in hand, the White Sox have done personal interviews with left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon, right-handed pitcher Jeff Hoffman and shortstop Trea Turner. A meeting with right-handed pitcher Tyler Kolek has been scheduled for January, a meeting with shortstop Jacob Gatewood is set for February and a meeting with right-handed pitcher Tyler Beede will take place at a date yet to be determined.
All six of these players have been projected no lower than the Top 6 or 7 by MLB.com's Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo during their first Mock Draft. It's a process the White Sox never delved into as extensively before when they drafted lower in the first round.
"So far it has been great," said White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann, who has been part of the meetings with White Sox assistant scouting director Nick Hostetler. "I haven't done it much in the past, at least at this time of the year, because when you are picking low, the pool is too big to narrow down. But so far it has been a good deal. Everybody seems receptive. They know what's at stake for them. They put their best foot forward as well."
"As far as picking that high and being able to limit to a few, for us it was vital to try to get to know them. Try to get a little bit of history on the personal side, rather than on the field side," Hostetler said. "I don't know if it so much gives an indication in a 30-minute to an hour meeting of exactly who they are as a person. But it gives us some familiarity with them and them with us."
These informal interviews take place at a location of the player's choice, whether it's in the coach's office for Rodon or at the respective stadium's pressbox for Hoffman and Turner. Laumann understands that coaches and family advisors will set up some sort of parameters or restrictions as an individual player's work toward the season transfers into high gear.
So meeting in this slightly slower time period makes sense. As much as Laumann and Hostetler are looking for what makes these players tick, from baseball to personal lives, these highly sought-after and savvy young men have their own set of questions.
For example, the players already spoken to took notice of Chris Sale's incredibly quick path to the Majors: drafted in June 2010, making his Major League debut in relief Aug. 6 in Baltimore of that same year and currently a Cy Young candidate at the top of the rotation.
"They know that. They see it. Their families, agents and coaches have told them about it. They have questions about it," Hostetler said. "They will ask us about Chris Sale's time frame or Daniel Hudson's time frame. These guys have been well schooled between advisors and families and coaches. They know what organization develops players and develops them quickly."
"We obviously can see what they do on the field, but it's good to know what they are thinking between their ears, too, so we have a better chance to figure out what kind of character they got," Laumann said. "They had pretty sound, logical questions to ask us. It's like Nick said: It's the familiarity with getting to know what we expect out of them."
Laumann warns that the whole talent selection process is a fluid one and can change as it gets closer to June. He pointed out that there was a player projected in the Top 3 at this time last year who eventually fell out of that perch, while there was a player who wasn't in the Top 5 or 6 who went Top 3.
Even with those potential changes in mind, Laumann, Hostetler and the White Sox have a really good consensus of who the first three picks are. They just don't know the order, but these interviews stand as another factor to help crystallize the best fit for what shapes up as an extremely important No. 3 pick amid the organization's overall reshaping process.
"You know, I've really enjoyed it and it's been an enjoyable process," Laumann said. "It's hard sometimes to try to figure this thing out because it's not always as it seems to be come June of next year. We want to get at least a big enough pool of guys that somewhere in this group of guys we hope to have our guy."