It's been odd watching the White Sox have plenty of runs and scramble around for pitching this year. It brings me back to the 90s and early 2000s, but it is an inversion of the model that we have become used to seeing in the Obama Administration. With the presence of Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton — and hopefully eventually Avisail Garcia and Matt Davidson — it appears that the organizational need pendulum has swung away from offense and back toward pitching. And although this may change, it appears that a clear Top Three has emerged for the upcoming MLB draft and the White Sox are fortunate enough to have one of those three selections.
Carlos Rodon has sharpened back up as the college season has progressed, and it appears that he is once again the likely choice for the No. 1 overall pick with Houston. After all, teams just do not take high school pitchers with the 1-1 selection. Meaning that if Rodon does indeed go No. 1 (or if he doesn't and the Marlins do the next-most likely thing and take him No. 2), that will leave Chicago with whoever is left of Tyler Kolek and Brady Aiken.
And, if you're petty like I am, you can be amused that it leaves the Cubs in the awkward position of picking fourth when there is a clear Top 3. I have seen several articles in the last week wherein the author tries to explain politely why the Crosstown Classic has lost its luster lately without just coming straight out and saying it's because both teams were atrocious in 2013 and this year the White Sox are maybe .500 and the Cubs are ... still atrocious. Still, it is not without its significance, as the Cubs went 4-0 against the White Sox last year, which was the difference between the two teams picking No. 3 and No. 4 overall this June.*
*Cubs fans need not despair too much. For all that the Cubs' farm system has gotten a lot of hype lately (and seriously, you'd hope it would after drafting as high as they have for so long), they have a ton of position prospects and are extremely light on pitching. There are still guys like Tyler Beede, Erick Fedde**, Brandon Finnegan and Kyle Freeland available. It's a shame that Jeff Hoffman had to get Tommy John Surgery, both for him, and for the Cubs.
**Whoops! Apparently he's getting Tommy John Surgery too!
Then again, I suppose the plan for the Cubs could be to just load up on bats until they feel like opening up their wallets and their competition window, at which point they can just buy some free agent starters and hope. There isn't a slam dunk bat prospect who makes sense at the top of this draft to play it this way, though.
In a way, it seems as though the stars are aligning to protect the White Sox from themselves. Kolek and Aiken represent riskier, more expensive options that the organization traditionally avoids. In all likelihood, they are also the best value, the best available players, and possess the highest upside. If Rodon is off the board, with Hoffman injured, and organizational need pushing them away from a college bat, it's looking like they might have no choice but to do the best thing and grab the most talent they possibly can.
Former White Sox 1st Rounder Tim Anderson is also contributing to the vastly improved pool of position players in the White Sox system. If you listen to the Baseball America podcast — and if you don't, you should, because it's free and awesome — you will have heard Josh Norris say that Tim Anderson provided the single best offensive game he has seen from a prospect since he started with BA.
Take it with a grain of salt, as the consensus is that he is still very raw, but I was relieved to hear that despite his troubling statistics so far this year his tools still look very promising and are appearing in games.
And again — Anderson should be able to play shortstop, but he's still unreliable out there.