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Draft Preview - Chicago White Sox

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Here is the ninth part in my series, this time focusing on the Chicago White Sox and their scouting director Doug Laumann. The other parts, posted at Minor League Ball, are linked at the bottom.

Owner: Jerry Reinsdorf, bought club in 1981
General Manager: Ken Williams, first season was 2001
Scouting Director: Doug Laumann, first draft was 2001, reassigned after 2003 draft, rehired for 2008 draft

Looking Back

2001 Draft: Unknown Budget

1. Kris Honel, RHP, Providence Catholic HS (IL), #16 overall: Honel was projected to go somewhere in the middle of the first round in the 2001 draft, and the White Sox made a solid choice. A 6'5'' righty, Honel had missed time due to injury that Spring, but came back strong. Following players selected: Dan Denham, Aaron Heilman, Mike Fontenot. Signing bonus: $1.5 million.
2. Wyatt Allen, RHP, Tennessee, #39 overall: This was a bit of an overdraft, as most considered Allen a mid-second round pick. However, at 6'4'' with one of the strongest arms in the entire draft class, this pick wasn't far off in terms of consensus. Following players selected: Richard Lewis, Todd Linden, Jon Skaggs. Signing bonus: $872,500.
3. Ryan Wing, LHP, Riverside CC (CA), #71 overall: This was right around where Wing was projected to go, though there was some variation involved. He was a skinny kid who was moderately tall at 6'2'', but was seen as more of a pitchability guy. Following players selected: Dan Haren, Cole Barthel, Jesse Foppert. Signing bonus: $575,000.
4. Jon Zeringue, C, E.D. White HS (LA), #103 overall: This is where things got dicey. Predicted to go as high as the supplemental first round, Zeringue fell due to signability issues, as his commitment to LSU was quite strong. However, Laumann called his name, and he didn't sign. Following players selected: Joe Mather, Adam Stern, Julian Benavidez. DID NOT SIGN.
5. J.J. Mattox, OF, Conway HS (AR), #133 overall: Mattox was a huge athlete from the state of Arkansas who was projected to go somewhere in the sixth to tenth round. Not only did the White Sox draft him in the fourth, but failed to sign him. Oops. Following players selected: Josh Brey, Kyle Davies, Josh Cram. DID NOT SIGN.
Other Notable Selections: SS Andy Gonzalez (5th), Florida Air Academy; C Chris Stewart (12th), Riverside CC (CA), draft and follow; OF Chris Young (16th), Bellaire HS (TX); RHP Charlie Haeger (25th), Detroit Catholic Central HS (MI)

2002 Draft: Unknown Budget

1. Royce Ring, LHP, San Diego State, #18 overall: Projected as a late first rounder, this was a bit early for the college reliever. However, most didn't question this pick too much, as Ring was undoubtedly the best college closer in the class and had good stuff. Following players selected: James Loney, Denard Span, Bobby Brownlie. Signing bonus: $1.6 million.
2. Jeremy Reed, OF, Long Beach State, #59 overall: Reed projected as a fourth outfielder type of prospect even back then. For that reason, it was quite shocking to see him taken so early. He had a decent career at Long Beach State, but nothing spectacular. Following players selected: Jonathan Broxton, Jesse Crain, Justin Jones. Signing bonus: $650,000.
3. Josh Rupe, RHP, Louisburg JC (NC), #90 overall: This was an overdraft by a couple of rounds, as Rupe was considered lucky if he made it into the first five or so rounds. There was a lot of criticism of his mechanics after transferring from Liberty. Following players selected: Mike Nixon, Mark Sauls, Billy Petrick. Signing bonus: $440,000.
4. Ryan Rodriguez, LHP, Keller HS (TX), #120 overall: Another overdraft by a few rounds, Rodriguez was a big prep lefty with a decent-enough fastball and curve. At 6'4'', he seemed to be in the category of projectable lefty. Following players selected: Delwyn Young, Alex Merricks, Alan Rick. Signing bonus: Unknown.
5. B.J. LaMura, RHP, Clemson, #150 overall: This was about two rounds higher than LaMura was expected to go. He had a good arm while at Clemson, but his command was below that of a normal college pitcher. Following players selected: Mike Megrew, Clete Thomas, Shawn Scobee. Signing bonus: Unknown.
Other Notable Selections: SS Chris Getz (6th), Grosse Point South HS (MI); RHP Sean Tracey (8th), UC Irvine; RHP Brandon McCarthy (17th), Lamar CC (CO); LHP Boone Logan (20th), Sandra Day O'Connor HS (TX); LHP Jay Marshall (25th), Jefferson College; RHP Fernando Hernandez (49th), Southwest HS (FL)

2003 Draft: $3.8 Million Budget

1. Brian Anderson, OF, Arizona, #15 overall: A toolsy college outfielder, a rarity on the college scene, Anderson improved from being way down draft boards entering the Spring to a mid first rounder. He was expected to go in the back half of the round. Following players selected: Jeff Allison, David Murphy, Brad Snyder. Signing bonus: $1.6 million.
2. Ryan Sweeney, OF, Xavier HS (IA), #52 overall: Sweeney was in consideration for the first round, but he fell here due to questions about his experience against good competition. This was a solid pick of a toolsy prep outfielder. Following players selected: Logan Kensing, Mickey Hall, Todd Jennings. Signing bonus: $785,000.
3. Clint King, OF, Southern Miss, #82 overall: This was a huge overdraft, as King wasn't expected to go in the first five rounds. He had good results in college, but was a sophomore-eliglble and had plate discipline issues. Following players selected: Jonathan Fulton, Beau Vaughan, Tim Moss. Signing bonus: $440,000.
4. Robert Valido, SS, Coral Park HS (FL), #112 overall: This was right around whereValido was expected to go. He was mainly drafted on his ability at shortstop, but there were some questions about his bat. Following players selected: Jai Miller, Jonathan Papelbon, Michael Bourn. Signing bonus: $285,000.
5. Matt Nachreiner, RHP, Round Rock HS (TX), #142 overall: Nachreiner was expected to go in this area, if not a round higher. He had huge medical questions, as his knees were supposedly quite awful, but his stuff was undeniable. Following players selected: Cole Seifrig, Brian Marshall, Javon Moran. Signing bonus: $200,000.
Other Notable Picks: None.

2008 Draft: $4.7 Million Budget

1. Gordon Beckham, SS, Georgia, #8 overall: An excellent pick by Laumann in his return to the drafting chair. Beckham was being considered in the top five overall as a result of his hitting prowess, though he had questions about his glove. Following players selected: Aaron Crow, Jason Castro, Justin Smoak. Signing bonus: $2.6 million.
2. Brent Morel, 3B, Cal Poly, #86 overall: A big overdraft, Morel would have been lucky to slide into day one, which consisted of the first six rounds a year ago. Morel was just your average college third baseman with decent pop. Following players selected: Danny Espinosa, Chase Davidson, Tim Murphy. Signing bonus: $440,000.
3. Drew O'Neil, RHP, Penn State, #120 overall: A college closer, O'Neil was a sidearmer while at Penn State. He was expected to go somewhere late in the first day of the draft, making this a bearable, yet questionable, selection. Following players selected: Graham Hicks, TJ Steele, Joe Wieland. Signing bonus: $260,000.
4. Dan Hudson, RHP, Old Dominion, #150 overall: Hudson was a disappointment during his junior year, sliding him down draft boards. He was expected to go maybe a round or two later, as his command was sub-par. Following players selected: Adrian Nieto, David Duncan, Clark Murphy. Signing bonus: $180,000.
5. Kenny Williams, OF, Wichita State, #180 overall: This was a ridiculous pick, as Williams would have been lucky to be picked in the single digits by any other team. The son of the GM, Williams battled numerous issues keeping him off the field, only totaling a single unfinished college season. Following players selected: Paul Demny, JB Shuck, Richard Bleier. Signing bonus: $150,000.
Other Notable Selections: OF Jordan Danks (7th), Texas, $525K bonus (overslot); RHP Dexter Carter (13th), Old Dominion

These are the four drafts undertaken by Doug Laumann. Laumann's tenure has been quite interesting, as he went from scouting director when Ken Williams was hired, to reassignment after three drafts, then back to scouting director when Duane Shaffer was fired just a couple weeks after the 2007 draft. What makes it more interesting is that Shaffer was the scouting director before Laumann, going all the way back to 1991. That's two scouting directors over 18 drafts, but with each having been fired at least once before re-taking the reigns. That's horrible personnel management folks. What it comes down to, however, is that Shaffer's performance was so bad that he came under fire from Williams five months before the 2007 draft ever took place, and Laumann was there to pick up the pieces when Shaffer knew the door was going to hit him on the way out. Both Laumann and Shaffer assumed other roles in their stints after being replaced as scouting director. WHAT A FREAKING MESS! I don't normally have that kind of reaction to personnel decisions, but Ken Williams and owner Jerry Reinsdorf have royally screwed up the workings of their scouting department. What has ensued is some bad drafting and development. Laumann himself has been an up-and-down type of director, going from overdrafting to getting great value to overdrafting again. In 2008, he was helped by having the #8 pick and Gordon Beckham landed on a plate for him, so that's chalked up to luck. Overall, he's gone for the higher-ceiling guys that Duane Shaffer avoided, and it's paid off in general. Some of his decisions have been questionable, but there's no question he likes the bigger-bodied, more athletic pitchers and position players. Laumann went heavily college last year, though I don't think that's an entire philosophy of his. He liked a number of prep players in the past, so it's usually more about what he perceives the most talented player to be. I expect to see a fair mix in the future.

Financially, the White Sox have always underbudgeted for the draft process. They've generally had lower picks, so it's been less of an issue than it would be for other clubs. Last year was the highest investment year since 2004, and $4.7 million is not a lot. Considered the fact that Gordon Beckham got well over 50% of that money, and you see that the White Sox generally care little about draft investment. The White Sox own the #23, 38, 61, 71, 102, and 133 picks, and pick every 30 picks after that. That's an extra supplemental first rounder and an extra second rounder, so I expect a tad more investment this year. If they go slot across the board, expect them to pay in the neighborhood of $5 million total for their picks. I don't expect more than one overslot pick, as that's not their style at all. It takes a rare player to earn an overslot bonus from the White Sox, and that was Jordan Danks a year ago. If you notice, he was their first pick of the second day, so using that formula, we could see an overslot player picked in the fourth round this year, the first round of the second day. College talents that could fall could be sophomore-eligibles such as Kentrail Davis. He might require a significant amount overslot, so that might not be an option. On the whole, expect a fairly straight pattern of slot signings.

Looking at specific players, the White Sox may be able to land some nice players in their #23 slot. I have them going with Oklahoma State lefty Andy Oliver this week, but that's not an option if he wants more than slot. However, being a Boras client doesn't necessarily mean he wants more than a slot bonus. Other options could include LSU outfielder Jared Mitchell, Indiana starting pitcher Eric Arnett, Stanford's Drew Storen, and Georgia first baseman Rich Poythress. There's some good options out there. The supplemental first round pick could be any of Ben Tootle, Kyle Heckathorn, Chad Jenkins, Angelo Songco, and a few other names. I'm tying them more to college guys this year, as the athletic prep players just aren't as prevalent, though there are some prep guys to keep an eye on.

All bonus information came from BA, and writeups on draft status going into the draft were a mixture of BA and PG. Go to their sites for draft coverage. They're awesome.

What do you guys think? What do the White Sox do?

Previous Draft Previews:

Tampa Bay Rays
Los Angeles Dodgers
Detroit Tigers
Philadelphia Phillies
Texas Rangers
Pittsburgh Pirates
Baltimore Orioles
Colorado Rockies