The MLB draft is scheduled for June 10 – 11, 2020. The beloved White Sox are scheduled to pick at #11 and there seems to be a lot of talk about Patrick Bailey, a catcher at North Carolina State, being the pick, even though there are also rumors saying the team is “not that high” on him. Of course, anything can happen once the draft begins so we will all have to take a wait and see approach.
With that said I got to thinking, who would I consider the top 5 draft choices in White Sox history. After thinking about this I came to the realization that there is not a great history of success for the White Sox in the draft, with the exception of the stretch from 1987 – 1990. Two of the 5 players come from that era, and a 3rd is currently active. These are MY picks for the top White Sox draft choices of all-time. Feel free to disagree.
Tim Anderson – The 17th pick in the 2013 draft out of East Central Community College was originally seen by me as another Kenny Williams “Toolsy” guy draft pick that needed a lot of coaching to become a player. I believe that Tim deserves all of the credit in the world for putting in the work and I also need to admit that my initial assessment may have been harsh. He has shown steady progress in each season that he has been in the majors and added a batting title to his resume in 2019. Will he be able to repeat this in the years ahead? Only time will tell but he looks to be one of the core players for the upcoming White Sox decade. If he continues to mature and grow his skillset, he could move up this list.
Robin Ventura – The 10th overall pick in the 1988 draft was an accomplished college player, to say the least. He was a three-time All-American Golden Spikes winner for Oklahoma State who owns a remarkable 58 game hitting streak, ironically stopped in a game started by Jack McDowell, the White Sox 1987 1st round pick. The sweet swinger was a two-time all-star with six gold gloves to his credit. He is fifth on the all-time Grand Slam list with 18, including one game in 1995 where he hit two. A lot of people lose track of what a dynamic player he was due to his stint as manager from 2012 – 2016.
Mark Buehrle – A 38th, yes 38th, round pick in 1998 out of Jefferson College in Missouri. He shot up the minor league system and joined the White Sox in the middle of 2000. People talked about him pitching like his car was double parked. He is a guy who threw a no-hitter in 2007 and a perfect game in 2009. He started the 2005 All-Star Game and was one of the four horsemen who threw consecutive complete games in the 2005 American League Championship Series. He pitched at least 200 innings in 14 consecutive seasons, just missing out on reaching that mark in the last season of his career. He has four (4) Gold Gloves sitting on his mantle as well as a World Series save. He was an absolute fan favorite not only for the statistics that have been mentioned but also for his early career tarp slides during rain delays. He is eligible for the baseball hall of fame in 2021. Will he make it? Only time will tell.
Harold Baines – Harold, Harold, Harold! The overall #1 draft pick in the 1977 out of Maryland was taken in front of Paul Molitor, Richard Dotson, and Terry Francona. He was a silent assassin on the diamond who could hit and was never afraid to drive in the big run when needed. People always think of him as a DH but he was a solid Right Fielder who had a rocket for an arm (Enjoy the reference NWI_Steve)! The owner of several White Sox hitting records until some guy from Auburn came along. He was elected to the Hall of Fame through the veterans committee in 2019. When he was elected, he had the distinction of joining Ken Griffey Jr and Chipper Jones as the only overall #1 picks to be enshrined in Cooperstown. There are a lot of questions on whether or not he should be a Hall of Famer, but he IS a Hall of Fame person. After his playing career ended, he spent many years as a coach with the White Sox eventually helping the team to the glorious World Series title in 2005. He spends his days now as a White Sox ambassador and can be found around the park during most homestands or on a golf course.
Frank Thomas – Come on, this was the obvious #1 and how could it not be? The #7 pick in the 1989 draft from Auburn was an offensive force who holds many of the White Sox hitting records. The owner of one of the greatest nicknames of all time was named the AL MVP twice (1993 & 1994) while being denied a deserved third award by Steroid using Jason Giambi in 2000. He is a member of the 500 HR club, 521 total, and an AL Batting Champion (1997). His at-bats, especially in his prime, were must see events. All activities stopped so people could watch Frank put a big hurt on the baseball. A man who was never named, or even suspected, of using any form of PED during his playing days was a deserving first ballot Hall of Famer. These days you can see him on Fox Sports and in Nugenix commercials, because she likes it too.
So, there is my list of the top White Sox draft choices of all time. What are yours?