The twelfth part of my draft preview series focuses on the Chicago White Sox and their scouting director Doug Laumann. Laumann was the scouting director for the White Sox from 2001 to 2003, was fired and then was re-hired to run their amateur scouting department for the 2008 draft. I will focus on all five drafts he has run.
Owner: Jerry Reinsdorf, bought club in 1981
General Manager: Ken Williams, first season was 2001
Scouting Director: Doug Laumann, ran drafts from 2001-2003, was re-hired for 2008 draft
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 a little startling 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 an overdraft compared to industry consensus, 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 where Valido 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 fair overdraft, Morel would have been lucky to slide into day one, which consisted of the first six rounds. 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 decent, 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 at the time. Surprise! Following players selected: Adrian Nieto, David Duncan, Clark Murphy. Signing bonus: $180,000.
5. Kenny Williams, OF, Wichita State, #180 overall: This was a funny 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.
2009 Draft: $4.2 Million Budget
1. Jared Mitchell, OF, LSU, #23 Overall: Mitchell was a toolsy college outfielder that had a background in both baseball and football. He had plus tools and big upside, and this is widely regarded as an excellent pick. Following players selected: Randal Grichuk, Mike Trout, Eric Arnett. Signing bonus: $1,200,000.
2. Josh Phegley, C, Indiana, #38 Overall: Phegley burst onto the prospect scene in college as an all-bat catcher with questionable catching skills. He hit for average everywhere he went, and he was considered a supplemental first round to third round prospect to a team that believed they could make him an average catcher. Following players selected: Kentrail Davis, Tyler Skaggs, Chris Owings. Signing bonus: $858,600.
3. Trayce Thompson, OF, Santa Margarita Catholic HS (CA), #61 Overall: Thompson was an extremely raw prep outfielder that had trouble making contact. However, he had big-time tools, and the most notable question mark about him was his signability, which was a fallacy, as he signed for a fair amount as a second-rounder. Solid pick with a high bust rate. Following players selected: Tommy Mendonca, Jason Kipnis, Marc Krauss. Signing bonus: $625,000.
4. David Holmberg, LHP, Port Charlotte HS (FL), #71 Overall: Holmberg was considered a fairly maxed-out lefty with above-average pitchability for a prep arm. He had solid command of a college-like arsenal, but only back of the rotation upside. This was around where he was expected to go. Following players selected: Steve Matz, Max Walla, Cameron Garfield. Signing bonus: $514,000.
5. Bryan Morgado, LHP, Tennessee, #102 Overall: Morgado was an underachieving college lefty when the White Sox picked him. However, he exploded on the Cape after being selected, and Chicago could no longer afford him, and he went unsigned at the deadline. He’s a very good 2010 draft prospect. Following players selected: Robbie Shields, Jake Marisnick, Josh Prince. DID NOT SIGN.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Kyle Bellamy (5th), Miami, $147,500 bonus.
Doug Laumann doesn’t get enough credit. I’ve argued this several times, but it seems that White Sox fans just can’t stand the sight of a Doug Laumann mention. I find this a bit strange. He’s produced plenty of Major Talent from his drafts, and he’s also produced a large number of players that were used in trades by General Manager Ken Williams to get better pieces at the Major League level. That’s what a scouting director is supposed to do. He’s not responsible for the player development side of things. He’s responsible for bringing in the talent, then the general manager and player development team decides where to go from there. Laumann didn’t rush prospects or trade them away, so the blame needs to stop. He’s had his fair share of misses in the draft, but every other scouting director goes through the same sort of things. I’m done with the rant now, so let’s look at some trends. Trend one is what we’ll call an affinity for athleticism and defensive tools from hitters. That trend has been perpetuated many times, and he particularly likes toolsy outfielders with plus speed. I don’t expect that to change any time soon, as Laumann’s been pretty successful in that area. On the pitching side of things, Laumann’s strategy has morphed a bit. He preferred younger and more projectable pitchers in his early years, but he’s gone on to more polished pitchers in recent years. Holmberg, Hudson, and Morgado all fit that trend, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the White Sox go after a few pitchability prep arms this year in the same mold as Holmberg. In general, Laumann prefers college players to high school players, but that’s not a hard and fast rule, and I generally like how well their scouting department has read signability. They’re one of the best in the business in that field, as evidenced by Trayce Thompson a year ago. This is a solid, if unspectacular, scouting team and I think they’re a little underrated by the field.
If you’re looking for a place to point the finger of blame, point it at the people who make the budgets. There is no other way to put it. Since Laumann has moved back in to the scouting director’s chair, the White Sox have had a combined draft budget of $8.9 million. Looking at that in comparison to the rest of the league, there have been 11 individual drafts done by teams that have spent as much or more than that in a single year during that span. That’s $8.9 million in a single year, while the White Sox have been stuck at that total for a two year span. That’s not due to picking at the back of the first round or missing picks. They had the number eight pick in 2008, which they put to good use, and while they were missing a second-rounder that year, they added a supplemental first-rounder and second-rounder in 2009. Let’s put this in perspective. There is a grand total of one Major League team that has spent less in the draft than the White Sox for 2008 and 2009 combined. That’s the Los Angeles Dodgers. Surprising? Not to me, but then again, I follow this a little more closely than the average person. Only four scouting directors have had less allocated to them per year than Laumann, and I outlined them in my last weekend column. Looking at draft budgeting for the coming draft, the White Sox own picks 13, 63, 95, 114, 128, and every 30 picks after that, assuming that Rod Barajas signs a Major League contract with another team before the draft. That’s one extra pick, the compensation pick in the supplemental third round for not signing Bryan Morgado. I expect another budget in the area of $4.5-5 million this year, and that definitely impacts what sort of talent they can expect to get.
While connecting the White Sox to specific players at this point is a bit silly, let’s do it anyway. Some of the best athletic outfielders in this draft don’t really fit as early as 13, but Austin Wilson stands a good chance. That’s where I have them going at this point in time. They went with a pair of outfielders early last year, so I wouldn’t say that they feel there is a need there. Some of the collegiate names on the radar are Brandon Workman, Kyle Blair, Jesse Hahn, and maybe Zack Cox, depending on his signability as a draft-eligible sophomore. Picks later might include players such as Marcus Littlewood, Logan Darnell, Austin Wates, and perhaps Matt den Dekker. This is all purely speculation at this point, and I’m interested in finding out what direction they’re pointed sometime soon. Just remember that the White Sox have been famously anti-Boras in the past, so ruling out the names Bryce Harper, Anthony Ranaudo, Christian Colon, Manny Machado, Kevin Jacob, LeVon Washington, and James Paxton is fair. Those are all the Scott Boras clients off the top of my head, though I get the feeling I forgot a notable one. It will be an interesting draft for a club with a farm system that’s losing steam quickly.
*Bonus information came from BA.
What do you guys think? What will the White Sox do?