Fittest loser
Article updated: 5/19/2013 1:17 AM

Drafting pitcher may not be best option for White Sox

The White Sox are preparing for the June 6 amateur draft, and they have the 17th pick in the first round. Beat writer Scot Gregor says GM  Rick Hahn would be wise to select an impact infielder.

The White Sox are preparing for the June 6 amateur draft, and they have the 17th pick in the first round. Beat writer Scot Gregor says GM Rick Hahn would be wise to select an impact infielder.

 
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On June 6, Rick Hahn will oversee his first amateur draft as White Sox general manager.

Don't expect much to change, considering former GM Kenny Williams has been busy scouring young talent in his new role as the Sox' executive vice president and Doug Laumann is in his sixth year as director of amateur scouting.

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It's always a meeting of many minds at this time of the year, and there is going to plenty of input before the White Sox make a decision on their No. 17 overall draft pick.

The group effort's not a bad thing, considering the current crew came up with Gordon Beckham in 2008, Chris Sale in 2010 and Courtney Hawkins last year.

The 19-year-old Hawkins is an obvious project, considering he was drafted out of high school and struck out 45 times in 79 at-bats with Class A Winston-Salem before going on the disabled list May 2 with a strained shoulder.

On the plus side, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound outfielder has 7 home runs and 17 RBI.

Getting back to next month's draft, if it was up to me -- and it's not -- I'd grab an infielder on the first round.

Pitching is always at a premium, so don't be shocked if the Sox go in that direction with their top pick for the fifth time in eight years.

But I think the White Sox are fairly well-stocked with arms down on the farm.

Simon Castro (0-6, 5.36 ERA) and Andre Rienzo (2-2, 8.27) are off to disappointing starts with Class AAA Charlotte, but they are still on the Sox' future radar.

At AA Birmingham, Erik Johnson (2-2, 2.58 ERA), Spencer Arroyo (3-2, 2.10), converted reliever Stephen McCray (4-3, 2.86) and Scott Snodgress (5-2, 4.13) have developed into a formidable starting rotation, and Chris Bassitt (4-1, 3.25 ERA) and Chris Beck (2-6, 2.80) are making good progress at A Winston-Salem.

The White Sox also have a good group of minor-league outfielders with Hawkins, Jared Mitchell, Trayce Thompson and Keenyn Walker.

The Sox need to beef up around the infield.

Prized prospect Carlos Sanchez batted a combined .323 with Winston-Salem, Birmingham and Charlotte in 2012, but he didn't show much in spring training and is off to a .218 start at the plate this season in Triple-A.

Second baseman Micah Johnson is having an impressive season with Class A Kannapolis (.296, 37 stolen bases in 36 games), but there's not much else to get excited about.

So, who is out there?

Baseball America always does a thorough job evaluating all of the amateur talent heading up to the draft, and the publication has three infielders ranked 15-17 overall. One or all should be available for the White Sox.

Here they are:

16. D.J. Peterson, 3B/1B, New Mexico

A first-team all-American last season, Peterson is having another big year. He leads the Mountain West Conference in batting average (.401), home runs (16) and RBI (66).

17. J.P. Crawford, SS, Lakewood (Calif.) High School

Standout shortstops are extremely difficult to find, so the Sox are likely going to take a long look at this prep phenom. In addition to being a standout defender, Crawford is batting .448 with 17 stolen bases in 19 attempts.

18. Eric Jagielo, 3B, Notre Dame

The Downers Grove North product has a big body (6-feet-3, 215 pounds) and left-handed bat to match. Jagielo leads the Fighting Irish with 8 home runs and ranks second in batting average (.385) and RBI (47).

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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