"I'm curious myself to see what my ceiling is," he said. "I think I have a lot of improvements I can make."
|OF Jared Mitchell (first round), also a wide receiver at Louisiana State, and OF Trayce Thompson (third), the son of former NBA No. 1 overall pick Mychal, are just the types of athletes that GM Kenny Williams adores. So is OF Brian Goodwin, a Scott Boras Corp. advisee taken in the 17th round, but he may not be signable for the Sox.
Scouting director Doug Laumann describes the 20-year-old Mitchell as a "potential leadoff-type of guy and a high-ceiling, athletic type of guy," and praised Mitchell's character.
"Jared is just an outstanding young man,'' Laumann said. "He played some baseball in the Cincinnati area—where I live—the past couple years, and I got an opportunity to know the people that spend a lot of time with him. First and foremost, he's an outstanding young man.''
A three-year letterman as a wide receiver for the LSU program that won a national championship his sophomore season, Mitchell only recently made the decision that his future lies in baseball. He turned down a chance to sign with the Twins in 2006—they drafted him in the 10th round—to continue playing football.
The White Sox have been searching for a center fielder since trading Aaron Rowand after the World Series season in 2005—they've used 13 over the last four seasons—and a long-term leadoff man since trading Ray Durham in 2002. Mitchell represents a chance at one-stop shopping.
"One of the things we were trying to accomplish in this Draft was to
find a high-ceiling, athletic type of player," Laumann said. "We certainly weren't going to sacrifice the ability of some guys just to get that, but as it turns out, he was the one guy we felt like was the best player on the board and at the same time fit exactly what it was we were looking for."
Mitchell had more walks than strikeouts (52-51) this season entering College World Series play. That discipline had helped him turn a .325 batting average into a .471 on-base percentage. He's hardly the second coming of Juan Pierre, either, as he built a .557 slugging average around nine home runs.
Mitchell says he likes watching Torii Hunter and plays a lot like Carl Crawford. He knows the importance of his legs. He stole 35 bases in 44 tries this year and has used his speed to score from second on sacrifice flies and circle the bags on inside-the-park home runs.
"It's really hard to go into slumps,'' Mitchell said. "You can do a lot of things when you have speed."
• Looking to add catching depth, the White Sox took Indiana's Josh Phegley with the 38th overall pick, which they received as compensation for losing Orlando Cabrera. Phegley is a quality hitter—he was second in the country with a .438 average in 2008—but had trouble handling pitches from teammates Eric Arnett and Matt Bashore this season. Laumann praises Phegley's leadership, calling him a "plus-plus makeup'' player. The Sox aren't planning a position change with him.
* Laumann used the other Cabrera compensation pick to nab high school center fielder Trayce Thompson, the son of former NBA standout Mychal Thompson. He's 6-foot-4, 200 pounds and projects to a corner outfield spot. Scouts praise his power potential but he's raw after playing more basketball than baseball. He has a commitment to UCLA and could demand above slot to sign.