It’s the night before the MLB Draft, and yet we still haven’t seen a regular season game be played in 2020. It’s horrible watching the summer days drag along with nothing to look forward to, but tomorrow we will get a small taste of baseball.
With high school and college baseball also being cancelled this year due to COVID-19, teams probably aren’t as prepared as they normally would be. However, major publications all collectively seem to have an idea of what the top 10 should look like. With the White Sox picking 11th overall, they could see a plethora of good if not great players fall into their lap. Here are some of the more likely draft candidates for the South Side.
Ed Howard, Mt. Carmel HS, SS
Ed Howard seems to be the popular name floating around right now. Probably because he’s a local. Howard was the starting shortstop on the Jackie Robinson West team that lost in the Little League World Series Championship game back in 2014. After that, he attended Mt. Carmel High School, where he became one of the best high school infielders in the country.
Howard projects as a player who will hit .275ish with 15 home runs, but his defining tool is his glove. He has the size, range, and athleticism to stick at short for good. One scout said that he’s better defensively right now than Tim Anderson. It would be a cool story to see a hometown kid come into the organization, and for the most part, people agree he is a very safe high school pick. He’d be allowed to develop at his own pace as well, seeing as Tim Anderson has the position locked down for the foreseeable future.
Jared Kelley, Refugio HS, RHP
Jared Kelley is another high schooler who should have the attention of the White Sox. You can never have too much pitching, especially in the minors, and Kelley could be a special talent. The righty has a great build for a pitcher and can throw an easy and repeatable mid-90’s fastball. He pairs it with a slider, and an outstanding changeup for his age that he can throw in any count. Furthermore, Kelley pounds the zone and never really gets out of sync because his delivery is so fluid and simple. In my opinion, he has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter and the floor of no worse than a No. 3.
Reid Detmers, Louisville, LHP
If Detmers falls to the White Sox, they would have no choice but to grab him. His stuff isn’t overpowering by any means, but he commands all 3 of his pitches and they all grade out as plus offerings. He works with a low to mid 90’s fastball, a very slow curveball that is a hammer, and an effective changeup. His delivery offers deception and even though his stuff won’t drop jaws, he still ranked 2nd in D1 in strikeouts and whiff rate in the shortened 2020 season. He is the most polished college pitcher in the draft and should move quickly through the minors whenever they resume.
Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee
This is my one wild card of the draft but Crochet has slowly but surely become my draft crush. When he is on, scouts have said he is right there with Asa Lacey, the consensus top pitcher in the draft. His 6’6 frame, paired with his handedness and stuff is what scouts salivate over.
Crochet has a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 90’s and has repeatedly hit triple digits. It looks even filthier than that because he produces high spin rates, giving it more life. The same can be said about his wipe out slider that some compare to Andrew Miller’s. If that wasn’t enough, he also has a polished changeup that sits around 90 mph as well. In fact, some scouting publications have his changeup graded higher than his slider. The only knock on him is that he doesn’t have a long track record of success. He wasn’t anything special as a freshman but has gotten better every year. He could also polish up his command a bit. At worst, Crochet looks like he can be an elite weapon out of the bullpen, with huge starter upside if he puts everything together.
Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas, OF
One of the better college bats available, Kjerstad has power that rivals Spencer Torkelson, whom many project to go No. 1 overall. He will post high strikeout numbers as he likes to be aggressive at the plate, but a lefty with power to all fields like him would profile perfectly at Guaranteed Rate Field one day. He’s good enough in right to stay there but he won’t be winning any gold gloves.
I’d be happy with any of these 5 being selected by the White Sox tomorrow, but my hope is that they go pitching (Kelley, Detmers, or Crochet would be ideal in my eyes). More generally, I’d prefer if they went HS over college just because the team in Chicago finally figures to be competitive again. That means they can take their time replenishing the farm system with younger players now.