2017 MLB Draft Grades: Chicago White Sox
Best Pure Hitter: Because of his power production, hitting ability is not what comes to mind first regarding 3B Jake Burger (1). A career .339 hitter at Missouri State, he walked more than he struck out as a junior. He has fast hands and a good feel for the strike zone.
Best Power Hitter: Burger’s back-to-back seasons of more than 20 home runs at Missouri State were no fluke. He produces plus power thanks to above-average bat speed and his strong frame. 1B Gavin Sheets (2) also offers plus raw power.
Fastest Runner: OF Logan Taylor (16) has plus speed that plays well both on the basepaths and in the outfield, where he tracks down balls well.
Best Defensive Player: Taylor was a good enough defender in center field to often push 2016 Brewers first-rounder Corey Ray to a corner at Louisville. OF Luis Gonzalez (3) also earns praise for his play in center field.
Best Fastball: RHP Tyler Johnson (5) is the prototypical power reliever and can reach 100 mph with his fastball. He routinely sits in the upper 90s in short stints.
Best Secondary Pitch: RHP Lincoln Henzman (4) succeeded Zack Burdi as Louisville’s closer and now joins him in the White Sox organization. Henzman’s slider isn’t as good as Burdi’s, but it’s still an above-average offering.
Best Pro Debut: OF Craig Dedelow (9), 22, was old for the Rookie-level Pioneer League, but he excelled with Great Falls, earning a spot on the circuit’s postseason all-star team and producing 36 extra-base hits. 3B Justin Yurchak (12) ranked fourth in the league in OBP during a .345/.448/.520 campaign for the Voyagers.
Best Athlete: Dedelow and Taylor both have impressive athleticism. Taylor is a better runner, but Dedelow carries his 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame well, giving him a solid power-speed combination.
Gavin Sheets Gets Versatile
The 2017 second-rounder felt shunned by not getting an alternate site invite last year, so he used it as motivation to learn a new position.
Most Intriguing Background: 1B Sam Abbott (8) was a star water polo player in high school. He was named state MVP three times in the sport and was committed to play it at Long Beach State before the White Sox drafted him. He has athletic bloodlines as well, as his mother was an Olympic swimmer with the Russian national team. Sheets’ father Larry hit 94 home runs in eight big league seasons, including 31 for the Orioles in 1987.
Closest To The Majors: Burger is an advanced hitter, and his combination of hittability and power give him a chance to move quickly in the minor leagues.
Best Late-Round Pick: Yurchak proved his contact ability as a career .316 hitter in college and with a strong showing in the Cape Cod League. He has elite bat-to-ball skills and rarely strikes out, though there are some questions about how he profiles as a corner infielder.
The One Who Got Away: The White Sox signed their first 34 picks and inked all but five of their selections. LHP Angelo Smith (40) is undersized at 5-foot-10, 155 pounds but could be the best of the small unsigned group. The Chicago native, who now attends Michigan, has a fast arm and an exciting fastball-curveball combination.