Comfort level helps White Sox in First-Year Player Draft
Scouting department, front office work in tandem to revitalize farm system
White Sox second-round pick Tyler Danish is the perfect example of how comfortable the team's front office and scouting department have gotten with each other.
Danish is a strong high school talent with what Chicago director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann called "funky" arm action.
"I don't know that five or six years ago we would have been comfortable enough to do that, but I think right now we are," Laumann said. "I honestly can say that after -- this is my 32nd year total -- I don't know that I've ever been as intrigued by a player since I've been scouting."
Danish played at Durant High School in Division 8A baseball in Hillsborough County, Fla., which Laumann said was arguably the best baseball county in the country. He pitched 98 shutout innings last season and struck out 156 hitters while only walking 12, Laumann relayed. He also hit double-digit home runs.
"We had a lot of discussions about him," Laumann said. "We looked at films. We did everything we could possibly do and finally just said we are going to go with it."
The White Sox are hoping Danish and first-round pick Tim Anderson out of East Central Community will be the first steps toward revitalizing a farm system that certainly could use some help.
The athletic shortstop immediately becomes one of the top prospects in the system next to last year's first-rounder Courtney Hawkins and Double-A Birmingham outfielder Trayce Thompson. While the White Sox already have Major League shortstop Alexei Ramirez locked up for the near future, Anderson is a versatile player who could be moved around if he makes a push for the big leagues sooner rather than later.
Anderson is exactly the kind of player the White Sox were targeting. Laumann said the club tried to add some athleticism early, which is why they also added switch-hitting outfielder Jacob May from Coastal Carolina in the third round.
"Once we got through the three rounds and got the two athletes it was like, we're not going to switch up and take a pitcher because he's a pitcher, but if there was a tie or if it was close, we tended to go ahead and get some arms involved," Laumann said. "I think six of our seven picks, after we took May, ended up being pitchers."
Of the six Day 2 pitchers, only right-hander Thaddius Lowry was drafted straight from high school. The rest were all college starters or relievers who the White Sox could sign for some immediate help in restoring some arms to a barren system. Chicago broke up its second-day pitching spree with high school shortstop Trey Michalczewski, who could switch over to the hot corner at the next level.
The White Sox targeted more pitching early on Day 3, nabbing another high school starter in Bonita Vista right-hander Matt Ball from California and UNC-Charlotte starter Tyler Bernette, who was initially drafted by the Red Sox out of high school in the ninth round in 2010.
Laumann said the war room could hardly even notice that it was the first-year general manager Rick Hahn calling the shots and not executive vice president Kenny Williams. The mentality remained the same, and the war room only got more comfortable with Laumann in his sixth year with the organization.
"I'd like to think that they feel like we have an idea that with our experience level and some of the things we've done recently, they're willing to go ahead and have the freedom to do what we want to do," Laumann said. "There is more of a level of confidence with myself, my staff and everybody else involved. If you want to put it out there on this guy, go ahead and do it."
Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.