The MLB draft held its first two rounds on Thursday night and the White Sox had three picks in the top 49, including two in the first round.
The Sox first pick was at number 10 overall, their third straight year with a top-10 pick. After taking college pitchers the last two seasons in Carlos Rodon and Carson Fulmer, the Sox went college bat this year with Zack Collins from Miami (FL). Collins is a 6-foot, 3-inch, 220 lbs catcher who was named to Baseball America’s 2016 All-American first team.
Collins has a big time, left-handed bat and is hitting .358 with 13 homers and 53 RBI in 57 games this year for the Hurricanes. He has a .534 on-base-percentage and is slugging .631 this year. His career OPS in college is 1.056. It is unclear whether or not he will be able to stick at catcher, and many believe he will need to find a new position.
The easiest comparison for Chicago fans with Collins might be Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs. Big time bat that will be ready for the majors soon, but probably not a major league catcher. Being in the American League though, the Sox will have an easier time getting his bat into the lineup if he forces the issue before they can find a new position for him.
The Sox second first round pick was at number 24 over and was a compensation pick for Jeff Samardzija signing with the Giants. The Sox took yet another player named Zack, this time going with Louisville pitcher Zack Burdi.
Burdi, a native of Downers Grove, stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 195 lbs. He is a right-handed flamethrower and the closer for Louisville. In 26 games this year Burdi is 1-2 with a 2.20 ERA and 11 saves. In 28.2 innings he has 46 strikeouts to just seven walks and has a 0.77 WHIP. If you are wondering what that K/9 rate is, it’s 14.44. His last two seasons he has allowed just 31 hits in 58 innings.
Burdi has a high-90’s fastball and has been clocked at 100+ mph before. He also has a plus-slider and is working on an improving change-up. While he has been used exclusively as a reliever, the fact that he has three pitches doesn’t rule out the possibility of starting. However, with Sale, Quintana and Rodon already in place and Carson Fulmer on the way, the Sox rotation doesn’t have much space. The bullpen on the other hand, will likely have some openings. And there are always spots available for guys that can throw 100 mph with a plus-slider.
The White Sox final pick of the evening was in the second round at 49 overall. The Sox went back to the mound and took right-handed pitcher Alec Hansen from Oklahoma. Hansen is tall at 6-foot-7 and has a mid-90’s fastball, but has struggled this year with the Sooners and was sent to the bullpen for a time.
Hansen has a K/9 rate of 13.06 this year and 11.48 for his collegiate career but walks have been a problem with a BB/9 rate of 6.79 this year. He has allowed just 8.07 hits per nine innings in college so if he can get the walks down, he could really develop nicely. It was described on the MLB Network broadcast as a “high risk, high reward” pick.