Saturday, June 2, 2012

Looking To Monday

Scouting director Doug Laumann met with the media Saturday before the game and discussed his team’s general plans for Monday night’s First-Year Player Draft.  The Sox pick 13th in the first round and then have the 48th overall pick as compensation for losing free agent Mark Buehrle.

Here are some of Doug’s comments:

Are you prepared for Monday or do you still have a lot more work to do?

We’ve got a lot more work to do, but we’re in pretty good shape. We came in on Wednesday, did some video work on Wednesday and Thursday; just breaking down the upper portion of the draft the last couple of days. Kenny [Williams] and Mr. Reinsdorf are going to come in and spend a couple of hours with us today to help us get prepared for that first pick, and along the way we’ll get the rest of them lined up. So we’re in pretty good shape right now.

Some drafts are deeper than others. How would you characterize this year?

Probably as thin as I’ve seen in a decade. A lot of different factors play into it. I think personally one of the biggest ones is, as of about two or three years ago – and I don’t know if people were anticipating the CBA changing a little bit with the amount of money people were allowed to spend – but teams started spending a lot more money on high school players a couple of years ago and I think that’s really kind of depleted the college ranks. A lot of the good high school players over the past few years have been signing, and we see that it’s pretty thin right now in the college ranks.

Is pitching usually your focus?

Yeah, typically it is. I’ve commented before that Kenny and Jerry have always said that pitching is where it starts. And we kind of feel that way, although you certainly have to have people that can catch the ball and throw it across the infield and stuff like that. But we always look to see if there’s pitching; if we’re going to break a tie, we’ll usually break it with a pitcher. But at the same time it’s important just to see who the best and most impactful type of player is out there.

Your last No. 13 pick was Chris Sale. Do you think there’s a guy in this draft that could help your team quickly?

There may be. The thing about Chris that was so interesting was a couple things: number one, he was able to help quickly, and we recognized that; we knew that. But at the same time, teams have done that in the past. And those types of guys didn’t particularly have a high ceiling. They were guys that you thought maybe could get there quickly, but they kind of were what they were.

With Chris we recognized that he could get there quickly, but also that there was something beyond that with him. I can’t speak highly enough about the minor league system and the way we handled him. We kind of had a career path set out for him, and that was that initially he was going to go ahead and get some innings in the bullpen to get accustomed to the professional life; and that at some point in time he would develop into a starter. Thank goodness that everything has worked out that way so far.

Are there any other positions that you’d especially like to improve upon?

Buddy Bell, who’s kind of in charge of the minor league system right now – Buddy and I are really close, we’ve been friends for 30 years – we communicate very well with each other. I’m cognizant of always talking to him about, ‘do we have needs; do we have certain areas that we have to get stronger in?’ There’s always that need for pitching, like I said, but if perhaps I’m thinking about taking a catcher in the first couple of rounds, I’ll ask Buddy: ‘how is our catching? Where do we stand with that?’

So we’ve identified a few areas; we’re always looking for middle infielders, those skill type of players. Hopefully with what we’ve got going on in Latin America as well, we can go ahead and fill those needs. But you don’t really start filling needs until a little bit later in the draft, you try to get the best players initially.

How important is it for the top picks to make an impact in the near future?

I kind of view myself as a purchasing agent. I have my own personal views, and sometimes they may or may not line up with what the organizational views are. Typically they do, that’s why I’m in the position that I’m in. But it’s Kenny’s philosophy that you win championships with Type-1 players; with impact types of players. We have good discussions, healthy discussions, about whether or not, ok, well this guy can get there, he can get there quickly, he’s not going to be a great player but there’s a high percentage that he can get there. Take that versus this other guy that, it may take him awhile, but ultimately he could be that impact player.  And we’ve always opted for that impact-type player.

Are there any high school players on your draft board?

This year more than any, there’s a chance that a high school kid could be considered with that pick.

With where you’re picking, do you worry about signability at all?

Well hopefully the way the new CBA was set up – we’re always going to do our homework – but I think agents, players, families and everybody is kind of aware of exactly where it is. At this point you identify that we pick at 13, this is what we’re going to spend and are you willing to take this? If you’ve got a guy that you think is worth way more than that, then you’ve got to get creative and get some other things done. But I think we’re confident that the guy we get is going to be somebody that’s going to take the type of money that we have.

Going into the draft, do you have a list of potential players and cross them off as the day unfolds?

We probably have 20 names on that list for the 13th pick right now. There are probably about eight-10  of them that we know are going to be gone, and then we’ve got a list of about 10 that we’re kind of putting in order. Would we take them if they got there, wouldn’t we?

Then we have those philosophical discussions: ‘Ok, we have a college right-handed pitcher that could maybe help you here pretty quickly. Or we’ve got a high school left-hander that might take three or four years, but when he gets here, this guy could be dominant.’ And those are the types of things that we discuss.

Quite frankly – I won’t run or hide from it – we weren’t sure where we were going to be at this point. Through the offseason with all the naysayers, some people had us losing 100 games. So are we in a rebuilding mode, or are we in a mode that we’re going to do this and that? As we sit here today we’re in first place and have a six-game lead on the team that was going to run away and hide. So does that then change our philosophy a little bit? Well, those are the kinds of discussions that we have.

Had we been 15-30 and not where we are right now, the mode might’ve been that: ‘hey, let’s start building a little bit. Let’s start taking some guys that are a bit further away.’ Versus right now, where maybe there’s someone out there that can contribute fairly quickly.’

All of those questions haven’t been answered yet, but we certainly go through all of them.

Info

Live coverage of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on Monday at 5 p.m. CT on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and compensation rounds (best guess is the Sox picks will fall around 7:30 p.m. and 9 pm).  MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Day 2 and Day 3.  You can also keep updated by following @MLBDraft on twitter and #mlbdraft.  You also can follow @whitesox Monday evening.  Ron Karkovice (the Sox first-round pick from 1982) and Kevin Coe, Sox manager of youth baseball initiatives, are attending the draft as representatives of the White Sox.

 

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