Mike Shirley remembers driving the back roads as an area scout for the White Sox. He never imagined those roads would lead him to the top of the team’s amateur scouting department.
Shirley, 49, was promoted to director of amateur scouting Friday as the replacement for Nick Hostetler, who took a position in July as special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn.
“Nineteen years of doing this — it’s been a truly rewarding experience for me,” Shirley said.
He’ll oversee the draft in his new role. The Sox have built one of the best farm systems in recent years by drafting or acquiring a bevy of highly touted prospects, including Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal, Zack Collins and others.
Although Shirley came up as an old-school scout, he also places an emphasis on advanced metrics.
“We’re more innovative and further ahead than people realize,” Shirley said. “We may not talk about it every day. It doesn’t mean we don’t use those tools or resources to evaluate players or to have an advantage. We’re prepared for the future. The future of baseball is changing.”
The Sox traditionally favored college players in the draft, but that has changed in recent years as they have taken more chances on high school players. Shirley said it’s necessary to keep an open mind about all players in the draft.
“Younger players are getting here faster,” he said. “We want good players, whether they are 17 or 22. That was always the goal. There is no segment or directive [that] you must take high school players [or] college players. It’s our job to take the right players.”
Some of the players Shirley scouted over the years include Chris Getz, Micah Johnson, Clayton Richard and Aaron Bummer. Getz now works for the Sox as director of player development.
Garcia heads home
Utilityman Leury Garcia is in his native Santiago, Dominican Republic, following the death of his grandmother and is missing this weekend’s series. He’s expected to rejoin the team Tuesday for the series opener against the Royals.
Garcia is hitting .277 with seven homers, 38 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 127 games.
With Garcia out, Jimenez started Friday night in left field, Adam Engel started in center and Ryan Cordell started in right. Tim Anderson took over Garcia’s typical leadoff spot in the lineup.
For a good cause
Sox pitching prospect Michael Kopech, who’s missing the 2019 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, has pledged to grow out his hair through the end of the year so he can donate it to children undergoing cancer treatment.
Kopech is calling his effort — which will benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities and Chicago White Sox Charities — “Kopech’s Big Kut.” He’ll cut his hair before this winter’s SoxFest so it can be used for natural-hair wigs for kids.
Fans can qualify for a VIP experience with Kopech and other prizes by donating at whitesox.com/kopech through Sept. 30.