Bats a clear priority for White Sox in MLB draft
The White Sox had a clear area of need in their farm system before the first two days of the Major League Baseball draft.
They think they’ve moved closer to fixing that shortcoming.
Through the first 10 rounds of the draft, the Sox have taken five college hitters and another from high school. After selecting Missouri State third baseman Jake Burger in the first round and Wake Forest first baseman Gavin Sheets in the second on Monday, the Sox drafted center fielder Luis Gonzalez (New Mexico), catcher and Libertyville native Evan Skoug (Texas Christian), high school first baseman Samuel Abbott and outfielder Craig Dedelow (Indiana) on Tuesday to continue trying to even out their much-improved system.
‘‘We obviously emphasized the need for college bats, polished bats that controlled the strike zone and came with a level of power we felt the system was lacking in some regard,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said before the Sox defeated the Orioles 6-1 behind a grand slam from Matt Davidson and six bend-but-don’t-break innings from left-hander Derek Holland (5-6). ‘‘We feel with this draft we are taking another step toward balancing out our prospect base and adding to the level of depth that we feel we need to get to the level we want to have in terms of sustained success.’’
Since the Sox selected catcher Zack Collins in the first round of the draft last season, the complexion of the organization has changed dramatically. The trades of left-hander Chris Sale and outfielder Adam Eaton injected high-end talent into the system, although the only headliner to play in the field is second baseman Yoan Moncada.
Now the Sox hope they are a more well-rounded organization.
‘‘We are able to balance out the system, to a degree,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘Add some potentially impactful bats, some power profiles and across-the-board guys who have a good sense of the strike zone.’’
The Sox see that in Sheets, who hit .317 with a .428 on-base percentage and 20 home runs this season for Wake Forest. Sheets, a left-handed hitter with an open stance, said he watched a lot of Jim Thome as a kid. And based on his development into a power hitter after spending his first two years in college honing his sense of the strike zone, Sheets fits the profile of what the Sox want.
‘‘[Knowledge of the strike zone is] something that has been really beneficial; it helps the way that guys have to pitch me,’’ said Sheets, whose father, Larry, played 748 games in parts of eight seasons with the Orioles, Mariners and Tigers. ‘‘I’m not just a guy that you can throw out of the zone, and I’m not a big swing-and-miss guy, which is really beneficial. I think the progress of gaining power over time and not being a power guy from the beginning has helped me to have more walks than strikeouts and not be a big swing-and-miss person.’’
Burger, Sheets and the other drafted hitters join a system that recently added Cuban outfielder Luis Robert, whom Hahn said is part of a group of ‘‘a fair amount of high-ceiling power bats that bring balanced talent to a potential offense here in Chicago down the road.’’
‘‘There is an optimism in the room,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘Luis is a part of that, and what they’ve accomplished so far in this draft further cemented that feeling.’’
The draft concludes with the last 30 rounds Wednesday.
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