The Chicago White Sox came into the evening looking to add some much-needed depth to the farm system, armed with three picks on the first night of the 2016 Major League Baseball first-year player daft, including the 10th, 26th, and 49th picks.
The last time that the White Sox owned the 10th pick in the MLB Draft they hit on their pick, selecting their third-baseman of the future in five-time Gold Glove winner Robin Ventura.
The White Sox desperately need to have a successful first night, with the three picks in the top 50 that they bring to the table tonight. Only time will tell if these players will help fill the void in Chicago’s thin farm system, but here’s the rundown on the newest members of the White Sox organization.
10th Overall: Zack Collins – Catcher – Miami (FL)
I came into the evening with one name on my wish list as a fan, and that name was Zack Collins, a left-handed-hitting catcher out of the University of Miami (FL). When the White Sox’ pick rolled around, I said to myself that they would probably go in another direction regardless of what I wanted to see because sometimes as a Sox fan it just feels like they do things to intentionally aggravate me.
So you can imagine my excitement when commissioner Rob Manfred announced that with the 10th pick in the draft, the Chicago White Sox selected Zack Collins. The White Sox added a catcher who has drawn comparisons to the likes of Brian McCann and Kyle Schwarber.
The 21-year-old catcher from Hollywood, Florida, stands at 6’3″ and 220 pounds, bats from the left side, and throws from the right. Collins led the nation in hitting this season, posting a stellar .358 batting average, complemented by 13 home runs, 53 RBIs, and 49 runs scored. Collins also drew a ton of walks, evident by his .534 on-base percentage, which ranks fifth-best in the nation.
Collins was named a first-team All-American this past week, and is also a finalist for the NCAA’s Johnny Bench Award. In 184 total games at Miami, Collins hit .316 with 39 home runs and 177 RBIs.
Collins will hopefully provide the White Sox with their catcher of the future, sometime in the next 1-2 years. Collins addresses multiple needs with his left-handed bat, and his defensive position as a catcher.
26th Overall: Zack Burdi – Pitcher – Louisville
With their second pick in the first round, the White Sox selected Zack Burdi, a right-handed pitcher and a native of Downers Grove, Illinois.
The 6-foot-3 right hander was the closer for the University of Louisville this season, where he amassed a 2.20 ERA, 11 saves, and 46 strikeouts over 28.2 innings pitched this season.
Burdi, the younger brother of Minnesota Twins pitcher Nick Burdi, consistently throws in the upper 90s, and has registered 101 mph on his fastball this season. Burdi is a hard-throwing reliever who is projected to have a quick route to the major-league level.
Jim Callis suggested that Burdi could take the route of Chris Sale, saying, “Wouldn’t be surprised if he pitches at U.S. Cellular Field this year.”
Much like the Zack Collins pick, Zack Burdi seems like an excellent pick at number 26 for the White Sox. I thought that Burdi would be gone somewhere between 10-20, so snagging him at 26 was an excellent move by the front office. Collins meets the left-handed hitter and catching needs, while Burdi fills the need for a hard-throwing late-inning reliever that this bullpen desperately needs.
49th Overall: Alec Hansen – Pitcher – Oklahoma
Alec Hansen was considered to be a possible number-one overall pick heading into this past NCAA season. Hansen instead slides all the way to 49th overall after a disappointing 2016 campaign with the University of Oklahoma.
Hansen has always been a scout’s favorite with his impressive stature, standing at 6-foot-7 and weighing in at 236 pounds. In 2015, Hansen had a 3.95 ERA with 94 strikeouts and 44 walks, while not surrendering a single home run over the course of 82 innings pitched for the Sooners.
2016 has not been as kind to Hansen, whose ERA shot up to 5.40 in just 52 innings of work. Hansen has struggled with his location, largely due to a lack of any consistency in his mechanics. Hansen has a plus fastball that stays in the 93-97 mph area, accompanied by a nice slider and curveball.
If Hansen can hammer out his mechanics, he could potentially be an excellent grab at number 49, or he could never get a grasp on his mechanics and never amount to anything at the major league level. Either way, at number 49 overall, I’m okay with the White Sox taking a chance on a player with excellent tools and a high ceiling.