Plenty of rumblings regarding how teams – particularly those at the top of the opening round – will approach their first selections in Thursday’s MLB Draft have been becoming public in recent days. Plenty more will crop up as well between now and then. MLB.com’s Scott Merkin relays insight that the Chicago White Sox will focus on pitching with the third overall selection, but signability will likely be a factor in however the team elects to proceed.
College arms Carlos Rodon and Aaron Nola and high school pitchers Tyler Kolek and Brady Aiken appear to be the four possibilities that the team is considering. The quartet is widely considered to comprise the top pitchers available in what’s being viewed as a relatively pitching heavy draft class. At least two of them will certainly be available to Chicago, depending on what direction the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins elect to go with their initial selections.
Chicago’s total draft pool (the budget they are limited to stay within for their selections from the first ten rounds) stands at $9,509,700. The third overall selection carries a slot recommendation of $5,721,500, a significant portion of what the team is permitted to spend. Choosing someone who fits into the team’s overall budget plans is naturally important, as Merkin notes after discussions with members of the team’s front office.
“Is it a consideration? Sure. We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t explore signability both above our number as well as below our number,” general manager Rick Hahn explained. “You’ve seen clubs go that opposite direction where perhaps they take a guy a little higher than expected and save a little on the bonus for that specific slot and reallocate it throughout the rest of the draft.”
Like most clubs, Chicago will stick to taking the “best player available” when it comes to divulging their plans publicly. Pitching is not a significant strength when it comes to the organization’s top prospect rankings and given the depth available in this year’s class it certainly stands to reason that the team will focus their efforts in that direction. What will be interesting is whether they lean more towards a college arm (Rodon or Nola) rather than a prep arm (Kolek or Aiken), given the advanced development and timeline such a player would have in relation to their ability to help the Major League roster.