White Sox Leap At Chance To Add Jared Kelley To Draft Haul
As they unfolded their draft board in the hours before Wednesday night’s first round, the White Sox had thoughts of taking Refugio (Texas) High righthander Jared Kelley with their first selection, No. 11 overall.
Instead, they took Tennessee lefty Garrett Crochet, whose stuff and delivery mimics that of former White Sox ace Chris Sale. Then, they watched and waited as Kelley went unselected for the rest of the first day.
So when the live-armed righty was there for their second pick, they pounced.
“Top of the rotation-type of arm. We were very lucky and fortunate to be able to secure his services,” said White Sox scouting director Mike Shirley, who was running his first draft. “This scenario was something we planned for last week, just in case this scenario was something that came available. Were we a little bit surprised? Absolutely.”
No matter the order, the White Sox feel they landed two pitchers who each could have gone in the first round. Kelley was ranked as BA’s No. 12 overall draft prospect, and Crochet checked in at No. 15. To get both of those players, a team has to be certain about each player’s asking price.
So the White Sox were in constant contact with Crochet’s and Kelley’s advisors, and they believe they can add both pitchers to an already-talented farm system.
“We were very surprised, but in your preparation for any draft you’ll take any scenario that comes to the forefront,” Shirley said. “It was in that in-depth process that we’d been going through to separate that class of pitchers, there were multiple guys on our staff who wanted to take Jared Kelley at No. 11.
“So last night, once day one was over, and Jared Kelley was on the board, the work we’d prepared for actually went full speed and we thought this was a realistic possibility.”
Once they sign Kelley, they’ll add a classic Texas fireballer to their system whose frame and fastball are not unlike that of their No. 2 prospect Michael Kopech. The main difference between the two pitchers is each's primary offspeed pitch. Kopech entered his draft year with a nasty slider to complement his fastball, whereas Kelley operates with an excellent changeup.
“The athleticism, an elite fastball between 95-99. The breaking ball has consistently developed with more shape, more depth," Shirley said. "The changeup was a real weapon and something that was at the forefront for him last year. Thing that’s close to unique is that you have a power body that really controls the delivery effectively well.
“The fastball plays in the strike zone with plus command at times. That’s been the most important thing for a young arm, how developed the command is and how many strikes he actually uses with his fastball.”
This is the second straight draft in which the White Sox have selected a Texas prep arm with their second-round choice. In 2019, they took Houston righthander Matthew Thompson and signed him for $2.1 million.
THIRD ROUND — Adisyn Coffey, RHP, Wabash Valley (Ill.) JC
“He’s actually a two-way player and we have some interest in him actually doing both. He’s transitioning to the mound,” Shirley said. “In the fall he was 94-97 on the mound and he would show you a plus slider. We’re anxious to actually see him transition to the mound, but we do have some hope that maybe he can, possibly, let this play out as far as being a position player as well. He’s been third base, shortstop, center field. We’ve seen him do multiple things on the field.”
FOURTH ROUND — Kade Mechals, RHP, Grand Canyon
“He’s a 90-93 guy and is actually coming back from Tommy John surgery, so the stuff was really ticking up,” Shirley said. “Obviously, then the surgery occurred. In this new world of data, this guy has elite carry with his fastball and a really good breaking ball. So we feel like his ability to pitch north and south in the zone is really going to give him a chance.”
FIFTH ROUND — Bailey Horn, LHP, Auburn
“Another guy who’s coming back post-surgery,” Shirley said. “His stuff is on the uptick. One thing we saw last year . . . he is now really starting to take a step forward. He’s a 90-94 guy and his breaking ball is really coming. Plus competitor.”