The Chicago White Sox had a new captain in the driver’s seat this year which made this draft class all the more interesting as it would seemingly give a glimpse into how the organization thinks. That captain’s name is Mike Shirley who has been in the organization quite sometime but last August, he was promoted to being the Director of the Amateur Scouting Department. Shirley’s first draft as the lead wasn’t in any easy circumstances as it was reduced to five rounds and the entire world shut down. However when June 10th rolled around, they had a major plan brewing that we were all unaware of until June 11th at around 4:30 PM when they successfully pulled it off. Love it or loathe it, Shirley surely chased some serious upside with his first two picks and this could be the staple for years to come versus safe college picks of the past.
Eleventh Overall: LHP Garrett Crochet, Tennessee, Signed for $4.55M (Slot Value: $4.55M)
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I made it very apparent in both my Mock Drafts that I was not a fan of Crochet by any stretch which made the selection all that more interesting (or infuriating if you’re me as a White Sox guy). Crochet is a 6’6″ Left Handed Pitcher who primarily relies on a Fastball (which hits 97-99 consistently with great spin rates)/Slider (that has really good spin rates as well while hitting the mid 80s mph wise) combo and has a good Changeup which hits high 80s, low 90s consistently. Crochet didn’t start consistently in college and thus was coming out of the bullpen for a good chunk of his Freshman and Sophomore Years (35 Appearances, 12 of them starts). Whether you love him or loathe him, Crochet’s stuff flashes plus and a lot see major potential in him which caused him to fly up draft boards as he pitched closer to 2020.
The one major thing he does not have, however, is a great hold of control/command. In his two years at Tennessee, he struggled with it and unfortunately for his sake, he did not get a chance to prove in 2020 if he was able to make strides on it or not. In 2018, he displayed a BB/9 of almost four (3.7) in 63.2 IP and then 3.0 in 65.0 IP which is a difference of four walks (26 in ‘18, 22 in ‘19), a slight improvement but still not where you would have liked to see it be. I also am not a fan of his mechanics (see below) and while there’s seemingly no repeatability issues, I think they might hold him back with control/command some as he develops. I also believe the shoulder issue from this Spring might become a consistent issue down the road due to said mechanics. His lack of starting track record at Tennessee also is a major concern as while his stuff plays up in shorter appearances, he never started more than 6 games a season in college. He was hit quite hard (9.6 H/9, 1.47 WHIP in ‘18, 9.3 H/9, 1.36 WHIP in ‘19) in his appearances and never seemed to really get into a groove there, let alone enough to start. Ultimately the organization is going to give him every shot he can to start but I think his ceiling will end up being in the bullpen in a potential Andrew Miller/Josh Hader type role due to the lack of a starting track record, his mechanics and a lack of control/command. Does he get there? Honestly it’s really blurry but I think he ends up shy of that, which for all intents and purposes, is a first round bust.
Forty Seventh Overall: RHP Jared Kelley, Refugio High School, Signed for $3M (Slot Value: $1.58M)
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And then on the other side of the coin, the White Sox were able to watch Jared Kelley fall to them on Day 2 and snatch him up which was a massive steal. I wrote very extensively about Kelley before the draft so I won’t spend too much time on him here (https://prospectsworldwide.com/2020/06/05/why-jared-kelley-is-my-1-pitcher-in-the-2020-draft-class/) but the shockwave that Mike Shirley sent is a big one; the new trend will focus on chasing major upside. A Prep Right Handed Pitcher is one of the more dangerous demographics of any baseball player and not only did they take a highly sought one in the second round, they turned their entire draft upside down in order to secure him money wise and get a future ace.
Eighty Third Overall: RHP Adisyn Coffey, Wabash Valley College, Signed for $50K (Slot Value: $733.1K)
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The White Sox selected the redshirt sophomore from Wabash Valley College with their third round pick, who wasn’t even ranked by any of the major publications as a top draft prospect, for clearly one main focus; saving the money for Kelley. Coffey is interesting; he’s a 6’2″ 195 lbs Right Handed Pitcher who also is athletic enough to be a two way player at Shortstop which is where he originally started at before headed to the mound at WVC. He throws a mid 90s fastball and has a decent slider. There’s not much video of him on the mound at all (everything is of him is when he was a prep shortstop) so everything is pretty limited here and there’s no gif. The White Sox have immediately discussed the idea of using him and developing him as a two way player but ultimately if he ever makes the pros, it will most certainly be in the bullpen where his FB/SL combo could play but it’s seemingly unlikely that that will be the case.
One Hundred and Twelfth Overall: RHP Kade Mechals, Grand Canyon University, Signed for 10K (Slot Value: $517.4K)
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Continuing on the savings train, the White Sox took the 5’11” 185 lbs College Pitcher just months after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. However unlike Coffey, there is more to like about Mechals. He doesn’t throw very hard but what makes up for it is that he has good control of his pitches (a fastball, changeup and curveball). His fastball sits in the low 90s but has good movement to it to make up for the low velocity, his changeup has some good sink to it, coming out of the same arm slot as the fastball so it allows to fully deceive hitters and his curveball has some really good vertical movement on it, something Shirley mentioned when discussing drafting Mechals. Last year Mechals went 11-1 with a 2.16 ERA, 100 K, 35 BB and a 1.080 WHIP in 91.2 IP and started out this season strong as well going 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA, 18 K, 7 BB and a 1.04 WHIP in 15.1 IP (3 starts) before COVID-19 shut things down. With him being out for the rest of this year and some of next, we won’t see Mechals debut in the system until probably 2022 but there are some things to like about him and when it’s all said and done, Mechals could wind up being a #5 starter at the big league level.
One Hundred and Forty Second Overall: LHP Bailey Horn, Auburn, Signed for $150K (Slot Value: $386.6K)
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The last of the White Sox 2020 draft picks is a 6’2″ Left Handed Pitcher from Auburn that carries a really intriguing four pitch mix (Fastball, Slider, Curveball and Changeup). He had Tommy John Surgery in 2018 and struggled last year as a result but between in the College World Series and the start of 2020 season, he was on his way to fully rebounding. In 4 starts before COVID-19, he went 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA, 27 K, 5 BB and a 1.269 WHIP in 17.1 IP. He throws a mid 90s fastball that pairs well with his low 80s slider has quite the bite to it that forms his dynamic duo (His Slider is his best pitch). His other two pitches, a curveball and a changeup, are both solid but nothing really special, more so get me over pitches to keep hitters at bay. Horn will most likely be a reliever at the major league level, and could even make it there faster if he starts off as one, but I can see the organization giving him a chance to start first. At the end of the day, this pick like the two before it were fueled by the cash savings needed in order to sign Jared Kelley.
All in all, no matter how you feel about either pitcher at the top, the White Sox shot for the stars and walked away with Garrett Crochet and Jared Kelley. That, in itself, immediately gives the entire class a boost. The three picks after them are all low risk college pitchers who offer some potential upside to be unlocked analytically (something the organization is working hard to upgrade on) and that’s a really good sign for the way they think about the later rounds moving forward. Mike Shirley’s first draft in charge could give them two front of the rotation arms when it’s all said and done, even if I personally don’t believe Crochet will be one. Carefully balancing the line between analytics and old school scouting, the White Sox walked away with an high speed analytical darling and an old school throwback flame throwing workhorse. If that’s the direction they head, high upside picks unlike safe college guys like their previous trend had shown, then Mike Shirley is going to end up being a household name in White Sox nation.