Happy MLB Draft Day Everybody

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It's funny; for the first time in years I haven't been pounding internet pavement scouting the Sox next big draft pick. There are a few reasons for that, the obvious one being there's not much tape from a 2020 season, if any, on most or all eligible draft prospects. The other reason is a little more ambiguous though: most of the White Sox talent is in Chicago. Sure, there are a few stragglers and they have to continue to supplement their big league core with waves of talent as players leave via trade or free agency, but for the most part the current roster construction is what we're going to war with for the foreseeable future. There's a good shot whomever is drafted by the Sox today never suits up for them and is used as future trade bait.

It sucks, too. MLB *actually* did a good job with their draft format this year. Prior to Corona, the draft was supposed to be held in conjunction with the College World Series in Omaha and it was going to be more of an NFL draft type atmosphere surrounding the event. I LOVED what they had planned. But.... now we get 5 rounds and teams threatening to punt on the draft altogether just to save money. 

Before we get down to brass tacks, here are the biggest changes to the 2020 draft:

1. 5 rounds total
2. Pool allotment is the same in 2020 as it was in 2019 and will be the same through the next CBA
- Tigers get $13.3MM
- O's get $13.8MM
- Marlins get $12MM
- Royals get $12.5MM
- Blue Jays get $9.7MM
- White Sox get $7.8MM, $4.5MM 1st round slot 

All non-drafted players can sign for $20,000 bonuses MAX

Let's shift to a bunch of the "experts" mock drafts. I have experts in quotation marks because outside the first 4-5 picks tops nobody knows how the draft will shake out.

Keith Law, The Athletic:

1. Tigers - Spencer Torkelson: 1B, ASU
2. Orioles - Austin Martin: SS, Vandy
3. Marlins - Asa Lacy: LHP, Texas aTm
4. Royals - Zac Veen: OF, high school
5. Blue Jays - Max Meyer: RHP, Minnesota

11.  White Sox - Garrett Crotchet: LHP, Tennessee 

Kiley McDaniel, ESPN:

1. Tigers - Spencer Torkelson: 1B, ASU
2. O's - Austin Martin: SS, Vandy
3. Marlins - Asa Lacy: LHP, Texas aTm
4. Royals - Emerson Hancock: RHP, Georgia
5. Blue Jays - Max Meyer: RHP, Minnesota

11. White Sox - Garrett Crochet: LHP, Tennessee

Eric Logenhagen, Fangraphs:

1. Tigers - Spencer Torkelson: 1B, ASU
2. O's - Austin Martin: SS, Vandy
3. Marlins - Asa Lacy: LHP, Texas aTm
4. Royals - Zac Veen: OF, high school
5. Blue Jays - Max Meyer: RHP, Minnesota

11. White Sox - Patrick Bailey: C, NCST

Now I know I said I haven't been getting "up" for the draft as much this year, but that doesn't mean I didn't don a floppy hat, pop some sunscreen on my nose and get my YouTube scout on with regularity over the course of the last few months. 

Most mocks have the Sox "in" on Reid Detmers, Patrick Bailey, Garrett Crochet, Jared Kelly, Ed Howard, Tyler Soderstrom, Mick Abel and a handful of others. This is a blend of both prep and college talent, which is different from their "draft the safest college player" M.O. There's still a good chance they do go the "safe" route, but there's also the chance they swing for the fence this year too.

Who I Want The White Sox To Draft At 11:

Mick Abel, RHP, HS

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6'5", 190 pounds of ELECTRICITY. And my favorite part about him is he's exceptionally coordinated and exceptionally athletic. We talk about the buzzword "repeatability" ad nauseam on Red Line Radio, and based off Abel's Jr. year film, he's got it in spades. There really isn't much I don't like about his mechanics; they're simple, he throws down hill and has the ability to have 3+ above average offerings. I'm not gonna use the word ace, but he has TOR potential. At best he can be an all star, but more likely a solid 2-3 should he stay healthy.

And that's the rub - there is obviously a LOT more variance with HS pitchers. HS players in general obviously. Teams can spend more time with them and try their damndest to mold them into the best player possible, but the bust potential is huge. That said, in a weird year where there are only 5 rounds, I say swing for the fucking fences. Don't go with the safe pick, go with the pick that has stud potential. Out of all of the players I named, I believe Abel fits that bill more so than anyone else.

Who I Think They'll Draft At 11:

Patrick Bailey, C, NC State

Take everything I said about Mick Abel and the opposite is true for Patrick Bailey. I don't necessarily mean that as a slight to him, though there's no way to spin that statement as a compliment at the same time. There's just not a ton of "stud" potential IMO. Will he be a solid player? More than likely, yes. Here's his scouting report:

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Those are MLB Pipeline's grades on him, which is far from gospel, but they're good enough to reference because they're provide typical industry wide views of each player. What a reasonable expectation of Bailey is a bottom 3rd bat that switch hits and can handle a staff pretty well. That's not a bad thing but…. just not what I personally want right now at 11. This is the last year that the Sox will be picking near that top 10. The big league core is set for the long term.

What I'm saying is this: SWING FOR THE FENCE!!! Draft the player that has the HIGHEST ceiling possible. If he doesn't pan out whatever. But if the high ceiling is tapped into? Then you have a cheap, controllable stud on your hands. Maybe one that will command a $300MM deal one day. 

That ain't Bailey.  At 11, the player that will most likely fit that bill is Mick Abel who's projected more at 15ish in most mocks. If it were a normal year, I could see Abel going top 5 but teams haven't seen him throw much, if at all, this year and not against any live pitching.

Then again, I'll swing it allllllll the way around to what I said in the beginning of the blog: whoever is drafted this year will more than likely be used as trade bait down the road anyways. Whoever is taken at 11 tonight might not ever play at Sox park unless it's for the opposition. But at the same time, the better a player is, the better player you can get in return for him, so take the player with the highest ceiling. That's all I want tonight.