Good, bad, ugly - high round picks in the White Sox minors

The MLB draft is like baseball Hanukkah. Your team gets a present, uh, prospect every round, the odds against them are incredible, and the whole thing is stretched out over several days. The draft itself is spread out over 40 rounds, and with 30 teams, that ends up being hundreds and hundreds of players. Only a small percentage of those players will ever make the majors, especially those from the later rounds. Better players are, naturally, drafted higher, which means that the first two rounds of the draft are generally more likely to yield major leaguers (although there are always surprises).

The White Sox have had mixed results in the past several years with the draft, yielding stars like Chris Sale and busts like Jared Mitchell, who was drafted two slots before Mike Trout. There are several high-round draft picks still making their way through the Sox minors (and some that have languished there for years). Overall, there are currently eight former first-round draft picks, six second-rounders, and two players from a compensation round in the White Sox system, dating from 2016 all the way back to 2000.


Zack Burdi delivers home in a Spring Training game. (Brian Bilek, FutureSox)

Zack Burdi delivers home in a Spring Training game. (Brian Bilek, FutureSox)

1st round: Zack Collins, Zack Burdi, Dane Dunning

2nd round: Alec Hansen

This is pretty good, this is pretty, pretty good. Collins was the tenth overall pick, with Burdi following at 26 and Dunning drafted by the Nationals in slot 29.

Hansen is the only first-or-second-round pick currently with the Intimidators. In a lucky stroke of timing, FutureSox writer Matt Cassidy recently got the opportunity to see Hansen pitch, and went in-depth yesterday with this feature.

The bat is finally starting to come around for Collins in Winston-Salem, where he’s been drawing many walks but not getting many hits. In his last ten games, he’s batting .303, with two three-hit games. This has bumped his average up to .233 and his OBP all the way up to .393. He’s keeping up his stellar defensive season, catching 15 stealing and allowing 18.

Dunning just joined him with the Dash, after dominating in low-A. He’s already given up more runs in his new league (three) than he did total with Kannapolis (two, one earned). But, no reason to fear. Dunning will continue to adapt as he is challenged.

Zack Burdi might be unstoppable. He absolutely flew through the minors to Charlotte, where he’s lighting up radar guns in relief. This season, in 12 2/3 IP, Burdi has 21 strikeouts. He’s 22, he’s from Downers Grove, IL, and the Sox (and fans!) are eagerly awaiting his arrival.


Photo courtesy of Kamp Fender/Birmingham Barons

Photo courtesy of Kamp Fender/Birmingham Barons

1st round: Carson Fulmer

Carson Fulmer sounds like the name of a journalist from the days when the newsroom was filled with cigarette smoke and someone was always banging loudly on a typewriter. So, here’s some breaking news: Fulmer is doing pretty well in Charlotte. In five of his six starts, he has given up one or two earned runs and has looked more like the pitcher he’s supposed to be, rather than the one who gave up 11 runs in just over 11 innings during a rushed call-up to the big-league club last season. He was the eighth overall pick in 2016 and is one of four from that first round to have already made his debut.


Spencer Adams (Ray Marsden/Kannapolis Intimidators)

Spencer Adams (Ray Marsden/Kannapolis Intimidators)

2nd round: Spencer Adams

Kopech and Adams are my favorite pitching duo. They’re 17 days apart in age, they were drafted one round apart, and they’re both in the Birmingham Barons starting rotation. Much has already been written about these two (check out the Adams tag here and the Kopech tag here), so a quick update on their most recent starts. Kopech struck out six over six innings on May 9th, giving up just one run and continuing his six-game streak of walking at least two a game. He now has 42 strikeouts in 30 innings. Adams did not fare as well with his latest start on May 6th, giving up five runs in 6 1/3 IP, although he did strike out seven and walk none. This was on the heels of a six inning, zero earned run start, which itself was on the heels of a six inning, ten strikeout start, so Adams is flashing signs of a pitcher currently putting it all together.


Tyler Danish - (Image Via Danish's Twitter)

Tyler Danish – (Image Via Danish’s Twitter)

2nd round: Tyler Danish

Danish, like Fulmer, was somewhat bizarrely called up to make his major league debut last season, and like Fulmer, did not perform well. Danish is only 22 and in his first full season with the Knights, where he’s more concerned about getting ground ball outs than strikeouts. His funky delivery is working for him, limiting opponents to three or fewer runs in five of his six starts. Also like Fulmer, Danish could be back with the big league club this season as pitching needs dictate.


RHP Lucas Giolito (via

RHP Lucas Giolito (via

1st round: Lucas Giolito, Courtney Hawkins

Compensation round: Keon Barnum, Jeff Gelalich

There’s a lot to unpack here. First of all, who in the world is Jeff Gelalich? At this point, he is a roster spot. He’s a 26-year-old outfielder who was signed during Spring Training after being released by the Reds, and played in three games for the Barons before being sent down to the Dash. He’s hitting .154 and it’s safe to say that, despite his draft position, he is no longer a top prospect. He was selected as compensation for the Reds’ loss of Francisco Cordero to free agency, back in the day.

Keon Barnum is a similar story, minus the switching teams. The White Sox turned Mark Buehrle’s free agency into Barnum in what must be the worst circus trick of all time, as he has accumulated a .240 career batting average and a dismal .299 OBP. He’s with the Barons right now because why not, really, but no amount of mental acrobatics allow for a future where Barnum is with the White Sox past this season.

Courtney Hawkins is on the same sinking boat. He peaked with his famous backflip on draft day, which is never good, especially for the 13th overall pick. Hawkins is repeating AA for the third time, with his batting average dropping each season to its current all-time low of .122. He has two hits in his last ten games, during which he has struck out 25 times. This is sad, and I am sad.

Giolito, on the other hand, still has a chance. Sure, his numbers are terrible and the velocity has dipped, but… well, ok, things are starting to look grim. The #16 draft pick (chosen by the Nationals) is working on his mechanics but is failing to find consistency and control. He has not yet reached six full innings in a start this year and has walked 18 in 28 1/3 IP. He’s been such a highly regarded prospect that it’s still too early to give up on him, but things aren’t looking great.


2nd round: Will Lamb

I’m still a strong advocate for will.l.amb as a nickname, which is the main takeaway from this. Lamb pitched well enough for the Barons in the first month of the season to earn a call-up to Charlotte, where he has not yet appeared. It will be his second stint with the Knights, and if he continues to perform at the level he has been, he could be a valuable bullpen piece.


2nd round: Tyler Ladendorf

It’s been almost nine years since Ladendorf was drafted by the Twins, demonstrating that a high-round pick is no guarantee. He’s a versatile player who never quite lived up to expectations. It’s possible that Ladendorf will see a call-up from the Knights depending on injuries to Sox players, but at this point he’s 29 and there are other players ahead of him.


1st round: Chris Volstad

Volstad has spent much of his career splitting time between the majors and AAA, and with the Marlins, Cubs, Rockies, and Pirates. The Marlins drafted him 16th overall in 2005, above Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, and Jed Lowrie, in addition to about five other first-round picks from the same draft with more career WAR than Volstad. And now he’s filling a rotation spot with the Knights, where he’s attempting to revitalize his career, a quest that is not going well. In a mix between starting and relieving, Volstad has a 6.55 ERA and has given up five home runs in 22 innings.


2nd round: Jason Bourgeois

We have to go back 17 years to find the origin of Bourgeois. He’s spent more time just in the minors than many players have, majors or minors, in their whole career. Bourgeois’s first stretch with the Sox came in 2007, and like a comet, he returned almost a decade later. I almost wish I could make a joke here about how, like a comet, his career is melting off in bits and pieces, leaving a glorious cosmic trail of stats and teams behind him, but he’s actually doing pretty okay with the Knights this season. The dude is 35 and is hitting .297, and wouldn’t it be fun if he got a chance to add onto his three career White Sox at-bats from 2008?

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