The 2020 MLB Season still does not have a start date, but the 2020 MLB Draft does. From June 10th through the 11th, the reduced five-round draft will be held virtually. The White Sox own the 11th pick in this year’s draft after finishing 2019 with a record of 72-89. Since selecting outfielder Courtney Hawkins out of Carroll High School in 2012, the White Sox have strictly taken players coming out of college with their last eight first-round selections. Since 2000, the White Sox have only selected three players out of high school with their 20 first-round selections. Will this year break the mold for Rick Hahn and company, or will we see them take the same route as previous years?
Let’s first take a look at the last 20 players to be selected 11th overall.
- 2019 – P Alex Monoah (West Virginia) – TOR
- 2018 – P Grayson Rodriguez (Central Heights HS) – BAL
- 2017 – 3B Jake Burger (Missouri State) – CWS
- 2016 – OF Kyle Lewis (Mercer) – SEA
- 2015 – C Tyler Stephenson (Kennesaw Mountain HS) – CIN
- 2014 – C Max Pentecost (Kennesaw State) – TOR
- 2013 – 1B Dominic Smith (Junipero Serra HS) – NYM
- 2012 – SS Addison Russell (Pace HS) – OAK
- 2011 – OF George Springer (Connecticut) – HOU
- 2010 – P Deck McGuire (Georgia Tech) – TOR
- 2009 – P Tyler Matzek (Capistrano Valley HS) – COL
- 2008 – 1B Justin Smoak (SC Columbia) – TEX
- 2007 – P Phillippe Aumont (Ecole Du Versant) – SEA
- 2006 – P Max Scherzer (Missouri Columbia) – ARI
- 2005 – OF Andrew McCutchen (Fort Meade HS) – PIT
- 2004 – C Neil Walker (Pine Richland HS) – PIT
- 2003 – 1B Michael Aubrey (Tulane) – CLE
- 2002 – OF Jeremy Hermida (Wheeler HS) – MIA
- 2001 – P Kenny Baugh (Rice) – DET
- 2000 – OF Dave Krynzel (Green Valley HS) – MIL
The three names on this that jump off the page are Max Scherzer, Andrew McCutchen, and George Springer. Along with those three, there are a few who have had solid MLB careers and a few prospects who hope to have long, successful careers ahead of them.
The White Sox find themselves moving back in the draft compared to the last two seasons where they selected third and fourth overall. While they found high ranking prospects in each of their last two first-round selections, it will be much harder to hit on the 11th pick, as evidenced by the list above. The White Sox most recent selection at 11 in 2017 was third baseman Jake Burger. Burger has battled injuries and still has a chance to make it with the White Sox, but he has a long way to go after missing two-plus years.
Moving on to this year’s draft, the White Sox will look to add to their depleting farm system that is very top-heavy. Once baseball resumes, the likes of Michael Kopech, Nick Madrigal, and possibly even Andrew Vaughn will move on to the major league team and the White Sox will be left with only a few notable prospects. Now, we’ll take a look at a handful of players the White Sox could select with the 11th overall pick on June 10th to bolster their farm system.
Emerson Hancock, RHP – University of Georgia
Hancock is considered a top-five pick by many and probably won’t make it to the White Sox, but MLB.com’s Jim Callis has said: “There’s talk that Hancock could slide because analytically minded teams think his career strikeout rate isn’t dominant enough.” Will he make his way to 11 though? If he does, the White Sox could get a pitcher who touts a fastball in the upper 90s with movement and three above-average breaking balls to go along with formidable control.
Before the season, Hancock was ranked by many to go as high as first, but a rough start to the shortened season left some questions for teams. If the White Sox are lucky enough to have him drop to 11, I don’t see why they would pass up on Hancock.
Heston Kjerstad, OF – University of Arkansas
Kjerstad started the 2020 season on a 16-game hit streak before it was abruptly ended in March. Kjerstad is a lefty who possesses some of the best power in the draft along with solid contact. While he is an average defender and is destined to play left field, he has a good enough arm to play right.
While mock drafts peg Kjerstad as a top-ten selection, he could find his way to the White Sox at eleven. His raw power could be what the White Sox are looking for to fill their corner outfield gap.
Max Meyer, RHP – University of Minnesota
Meyer has a high-90s fastball that has touched 101 during his time at Minnesota. He also possesses a power slider that has reached 93.
His 6-foot frame has made teams question whether or not he’ll be able to stick as a starter in the majors. If the White Sox believe he can be a starter in majors, they could possibly go this route at 11.
Robert Hassell, OF – Independence High School
Hassell is one of a few prep players the White Sox could possibly draft. He is known for his contact and is still developing power.
Hassell has a beautiful left-handed swing and is an above-average defender in the outfield. The White Sox could take one of the best pure hitters in the draft for the third year in a row if they go with Hassell at 11. Will they break the mold and go with a prep player this year?
Jared Kelley, RHP – Refugio High School
Kelley is another high schooler the White Sox could potentially take. As MLB.com’s Jim Callis states, “Chicago could be the high water mark for Jared Kelley.” So there is a good chance Kelley is there when the White Sox are up to pick.
Scouts rave about Kelley’s command and easy velocity at such a young age. He possesses a high-90s fastball and an above-average changeup and slider. Kelley is who I’m rooting for the White Sox to pick because of how advanced he is in high school. He has a high upside, but as Jeff Ellis of 247 Sports states, “His fastball/change combination, along with his velocity, should make him no worse than an elite reliever.”
Reid Detmers, LHP – Louisville
Detmers would be the second player behind Kelley I’d like to see the White Sox draft. Scouts have talked about his professionalism on and off the field, and he’s a pretty damn good pitcher too. He can hit low- to mid-90s with his fastball, but his curveball is his best pitch.
Detmers may not have the most powerful fastball, but he knows how to control a game on the mound like former White Sox southpaw Mark Buehrle. Detmers is from Nokomis, Illinois, and could find himself back in his home state if he falls to the White Sox at 11th overall.
Patrick Bailey, C – North Carolina State
Bailey has been mocked the most to the White Sox in the past month. With Zack Collins still a question mark behind the plate and not much other catching depth in the minors, this selection would make sense. Many believe Bailey is the best backstop in the draft and the White Sox look like an obvious choice. Bailey is a switch-hitter with raw power from both sides and average contact.
Bailey is highly regarded behind the plate and scouts have no questions about him sticking there in the majors. Could the combination of good defense and power from both sides of the plate convince the White Sox that Bailey is their catcher of the future? He might be the most realistic pick at number 11 of these seven players.
With no baseball for now, at least we can have a couple of nights of YouTube watching in June when five new players are added to the White Sox organization. Let’s hope whoever the first-round pick is can help build a winning culture on the South Side for years to come.