13th Overall: Chicago White Sox
The White Sox are in trouble. They’re a middling team at best and their farm system is the worst in baseball. Maybe it’s time for a little bit of a philosophy change. The White Sox minor league starting pitching is absolutely horrendous, and rather than another safe college pick, the White Sox could go for upside in the form of Olympia, FL High School right-hander Walker Weickel.
Weickel is a big, projectable pitcher at 6’6″, 200, and even though he has more velocity to come, his current arsenal is already promising. His fastball ranges from 89 to 92 MPH with his fastball and has his 95 MPH, and he takes advantage of his height to throw the pitch with a nice downward plane and good sink. As he fills out, Weickel’s fastball could be a plus pitch in the mid-90′s. Weickel’s fastball may be better paired with a slider with a nice horizontal movement, but he currently throws a 12 to 6 curveball that has plus potential with big, late break. He complements his two team pitches with a low-80′s changeup that should definitely be at least an average pitch going forward. Weickel would give the White Sox a pitching prospect with the potential to be an ace or at least a number two, something they are severely lacking. The question is whether the White Sox will be willing to acknowledge their past mistakes and completely shift their draft strategy. If they don’t do so, I could see them taking Florida two-way player Brian Johnson, who would probably turn into another 3rd starter prospect in the White Sox weak organization. It makes sense for the White Sox will go with the former option, and their fans have a right to be upset if they don’t.
The Pick: Walker Weickel, RHP, Olympia High School, FL
48th Overall: Chicago White Sox (Compensation for Mark Buehrle)
If the White Sox are known for anything, it’s for rushing top prospects through the minors. If they’re inevitably going to do that anyway, they might as well draft players who can handle such rapid movement. Oklahoma State left-hander Andrew Hearney fits that mold.
Hearney, a slender, projectable lefty at 6’2″, 175, is the most advanced pitcher in the 2012 MLB Draft. He’s a “thinking man’s pitcher”, possessing a four-pitch arsenal and does things few pitchers his age or even in general do, such as purposely varying arm slots to befuddle hitters. Hearney’s fastball currently ranges from the high-80′s to low-90′s with some nice late movement, but he could have a couple more MPH in him after he fills out. His best secondary pitch is a curveball with quick descent that flashes plus. His remaining two pitches are a two-seam fastball with late cutting action and a changeup with some sink. Hearney should be able to fly through the minors and he has a chance to be in the back end of a big league rotation by early 2013. He currently profiles as a safe bet to be a 3rd or 4th starter in the big leagues, but if he can fill out his frame and get some more velocity on his fastball while also improving his secondary pitches, he could have number two starter upside. In a White Sox system with a dearth of pitching, Hearney can provide a stable presence that could zoom through the minors.
The Pick: Andrew Hearney, LHP, Oklahoma State University
Draft pick projections for Round 2 and Round 3 are below:
76th Overall: Chicago White Sox
The White Sox going for upside? Unheard of. The White Sox have always been a very conservative team in the draft. But if they want to get back to contending, that’s going to have to change. Anticipating that, I had the White Sox selecting high school right-hander Walker Weickel in the first round of the draft, although with their supplemental first round pick, they would likely select one of their usual types of picks, and I had them selecting Andrew Hearney, a lefty starter who will zoom through the minors. Here, it makes sense for the White Sox to go for upside again. They have little upside at the positions of shortstop, second base, and third base in their system at this point (although it remains to be seen whether Gordon Beckham can turn things around in the big leagues and what kind of player Brent Morel will be), and it makes sense for them to get an upside infielder here.
Jesmuel Valentin Diaz is an undersized player at 5’11″, 180 coming out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. But he compensates for his size with his impressive package of tools. A switch-hitter, Valentin is slightly better from his natural right side, but he shows a nice compact swing from both sides with some power. He needs work on his patience and pitch recognition, but he could be a .280 hitter with 10-15 home runs. Defensively, Valentin Diaz has primarily played second base in deference to first round pick Carlos Correa, and he may be a better fit there than at shortstop. Valentin Diaz has just average speed, well below-average at shortstop, although he has nice quick-twitch reflexes and a strong arm, making him possibly an above-average defensive second baseman and also an option for third base. Valentin Diaz’s combination of a small stature and a lack of speed dropped him to this point in the draft, but he has nice ability and could be a vital part of the White Sox’ rebuilding process.
The Pick: Jesmuel Valentin Diaz, MI, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
107th Overall: Chicago White Sox
No one is completely sure what Kenny Williams and the Chicago White Sox are thinking. No matter what they’re doing though, they must have realized by now that they can’t be as conservative in the draft as they have been in recent years. With their first pick in this mock draft, I had them selecting big prep right-hander Walker Weickel, and I also had them going with prep shortstop Jesmuel Valentin Diaz in the second round (with college pick LHP Andrew Hearney in between). Here, I expect them to go back to selecting college players, but maybe they could shake things up a bit and go for a college player with more upside. Two players possibly on the White Sox’ radar are Georgia Tech right-hander Buck Farmer and Mark Appel’s teammate, Stanford lefty Brett Mooneyham.
Farmer, filled out at 6’3″, 221, has a frustrating combination of polish and issues. Farmer has an appealing four-pitch arsenal: a fastball, a changeup, a slider, and a curveball. Farmer’s fastball hits the low-90′s and touches 94 with sink and a little late run away from right-handed batters. His changeup parallels his fastball movement but with better speed. Among his two breaking pitches, his curve has 11-to-5 break with solid depth and provides a nice change of pace from his other pitches while his slider has nice bite but he releases it from a slightly different release point than his fastball, limiting its effectiveness.Farmer controls all his pitches well although he has occasionally had problems with command within the zone. Compounding his problems is that he doesn’t have great character and has fell apart under pressure in the Cape Code League this past season. But he still has a nice four pitch arsenal and has 3rd starter upside.
Mooneyham, 6’5″ and 235 pounds, might be the most mystifying prospect in this year’s draft. Mooneyham missed all of 2011 following surgery on the middle finger of his left, pitching hand and his velocity hasn’t been the same since. A player that could consistently hit 94 MPH in the past, Mooneyham tops out at 92 MPH these days. His fastball has some run in towards righty batters along with nice late sink. Mooneyham complements his fastball with a changeup with excellent sink and a slider that at its best looks like his fastball out of his hand before showing great late tilt. Mooneyham has great stuff even with his fastball velocity lower, and his big problems have always been control and command, but with his velocity a little bit lower and his slider with a little less break, his control has been a little better and that could be a positive. Mooneyham has questions surrounding him, but he has nice upside even as a senior (redshirt junior), and the fact that he won’t sign for much money makes him even more like a White Sox selection. The White Sox like safer picks, but Mooneyham is a risk worth taking for them.
The Pick: Brett Mooneyham, LHP, University of Stanford