06/04/2002 2:03 pm ET
White Sox take lefty relief specialist
Chicago selects San Diego State's Ring with first pick
By Jimmy Greenfield / MLB.com
White Sox' round-by-round picks
CHICAGO -- A few minutes after San Diego State left-hander Royce Ring was taken by the White Sox with the 18th overall selection in Tuesday's First-Year Player Draft, the phone rang in his San Diego home.
"Excited?" White Sox general manager Kenny Williams asked the 21-year-old. "We're excited to have you."
The Sox' brass gathered in their "war room" at Comiskey Park couldn't have been more pleased to see Ring still on the board when their turn to select arrived.
Ring, who was listening at home to the draft on MLB Radio with his mother, Lori, was just as excited.
"It's great," said Ring, a cousin of pitcher Bill Simas, who spent seven years with the White Sox and just last week rejoined the organization. "I've been working real hard to get to this point."
San Diego St
Solid, muscular frame, similar to Mike Stanton. Powerful, quick arm. Sneaky quick, live fastball. Heavy fastball that occasionally explodes last 10 feet. Deceptive circle change. Pit bull competitor. Very confident, wants ball now.
The Sox continued their trend of taking pitchers in the first round. Their top pick in four of the last five drafts have been pitchers, the exception being outfielder Joe Borchard in 2000.
Ring, who was taken by Cleveland in the 41st round three years ago, went 5-1 with 17 saves and a 1.85 earned run average for the Aztecs during his junior season. The Sox are planning to let him continue as a closer when he begins his professional career.
"He was simply used as a closer for them," White Sox scouting director Doug Laumann said. "As we always do with pitchers, whether they're starters or closers, we like to try to get them some innings. This isn't a guy we anticipate stretching out to make a starter out of. But we certainly will give him more innings than a traditional closer will get."
Ring is six feet and weighs 215 pounds but has dropped 35 pounds since his freshman season. He has a fastball that travels between 90-94 mph with an average curveball and changeup. Laumann described him as a "power left-hander with a closer's mentality."
As a member of Team USA last summer, Ring posted an 0.93 ERA with one save, 10 strikeouts and four walks in nine innings.
"He wanted to be a closer because he said, 'I want to have an impact and try to win a game every day. I don't want to have to wait five days to win a game. I want to have a chance to stuff it up [them] every day,'" Laumann said.
"And he pitches that way. He's a power guy. He attacks hitters, he gets people out with his fastball and he's got two secondary pitches that he can use."
As the the first round proceeded, Laumann removed the magnet with the name of a player just taken and tossed it into a pile away from the board that contained hundreds of potential draft picks.
Each of the four players the Sox had targeted were still on the board after San Diego selected Clemson shortstop Khalil Greene with the 13th pick.
A couple scouts pumped their firsts as it became clear at least one of those players would be there when the Sox made their selection. As it turned out, all four were available.
"You target guys you think you might get and those weren't necessarily the four best guys in the country, according to us," Laumann said. "However, those were the four best guys who could get to us. And thankfully we got the guy that we wanted. We got the guy that we targeted and we were pleased with that."
There were a few problems accompanied with scouting a closer such as Ring, who didn't get into games the first few times Sox scouts went to see him.
"I actually made four trips to San Diego State before I ever saw him because he was just used as a closer and you didn't know when he was going to get in the game," Laumann said. "I think the frustration of some people saying, 'Hey, I've got other guys to see in the country and I can't afford to spend three or four days sitting and waiting,' might have taken its toll on some people, but our guys were persistent."
Ring became known for quirky behavior that is not all that uncommon for left-handers or closers. He took to sprinting from the bullpen as Metallica's "Sad But True" blared from speakers and then manicuring the area around the mound.
Ring was 15 months old when his father was killed in a motorcycle race. He was raised by his mother and paternal grandfather, Roger Ring, who died in January.
"This season has been kind of for him," Ring said of his grandfather before the draft. "I kind of feel like I owe it to him. He was there for me my whole life."
Jimmy Greenfield covers the White Sox for MLB.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.