06/07/2004 11:53 PM ET
White Sox draft lots of lefties
Sox brass giddy about pitching-heavy draft
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- In Tyler Lumsden, one of the five left-handed pitchers selected by the White Sox on Day 1 of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, the South Siders picked up a hard thrower who topped out at 97 mph while pitching for Clemson.
From early indications, the White Sox might also grow to like Lumsden's competitive streak before all is said and done. When told Monday afternoon that the White Sox were in need of a fifth starter Saturday, an area where the pitching staff has struggled all season, Lumsden immediately threw his hat in the ring.
Of course, that's assuming the draft's 34th pick overall, a sandwich selection brought about by Bartolo Colon's free-agent departure to Anaheim, comes to terms with the White Sox over the next few days. The signs currently appear positive.
"I'll tell them I'm ready if they need me," said Lumsden with a laugh. The southpaw finished 5-4 with a 3.98 earned run average in 15 games during his junior season for the Tigers, posting a team-high 88 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings and leading Clemson to a 39-25 record and a berth in the NCAA Regionals.
The selection of Lumsden made the early part of this year's draft look very similar to the 2003 draft's start for the White Sox. Third baseman Josh Fields was the team's first choice at No. 18 in the first round, but Lumsden was a first-round possibility for many teams, including the White Sox.
When he slipped to the supplemental round between the first and second, the White Sox snagged him. In 2003, the White Sox selected outfielder Brian Anderson in the first round but picked up second-round outfielder Ryan Sweeney, another player with clear-cut, first-round potential.
Duane Shaffer, the team's senior director of player personnel and the White Sox's coordinator of the draft, was more than happy to see Lumsden still available. He was equally thrilled when the organization grabbed 18-year-old left-handed pitcher Giovanny Gonzalez from Monsignor Pace High School in Hialeah, Fla., in a supplemental pick for Tom Gordon's departure at No. 38, left-handed UCLA pitcher Wes Whislerat No. 53 in the second round and left-handed pitcher Ray Liotta at No. 69 overall from Gulf Coast Community College.
Despite the Hollywood familiarity of the final name in the list, Shaffer believes all of these left-handed hurlers eventually will be 'Goodfellas' for the White Sox.
"We were surprised and very happy," said Shaffer of the left-handed pitching available. "We didn't waste any time taking them. We just gobbled up as many as we could.
"This is a chance to get a lot of solid pitching and good players back into the system. (Chairman) Jerry Reinsdorf has been great about this. He said to take the best guys and that's what we did."
Reinsdorf, who was in the team's war room during the early stages of the draft, was more directly involved this season because of the White Sox's six picks in the first two rounds. That total can add up to a hefty sum of signing bonuses, but the White Sox are said to be close to inking all of these early picks.
Other names of note in the first eight rounds were fifth-rounder Brandon Allen, a power-hitting, 18-year-old outfielder from Montgomery High School in Texas, and eighth-rounder Nickolas Lemon out of BYU, one of the hardest throwers in the draft, but one who needs to fix a delivery problem and harness his control. The White Sox also selected Daron Roberts in the 12th round, from Cal State San Bernadino. He's cut out of the same cloth as Aaron Rowand, a full-speed ahead player at all times, and also the son of the Florida Marlins' national scout Dave Roberts.
Michael Swain, a third baseman from Wabash Valley Community College taken in the 14th round, and Rockton Hononegah's right-handed hurler Brett Scarpetta (18th round) were the only local players picked.
During Lumsden's freshman year, the left-hander pitched in two College World Series games for Clemson in Omaha. That experience was one of the greatest memories in his young life, but reaching professional baseball was the fulfillment of a goal.
He joins White Sox closer Billy Koch and minor league hurler B.J. LaMura in making up the South Side's Clemson contingency.
"I'm going in there with confidence and ready to do my best, in any capacity they need," said Lumsden, who throws a fastball, curve, cutter/slider and circle change. "Just being a lefty is a good quality in baseball."
Shaffer doesn't need to be reminded about that fact. Five was his lucky number in that area on the draft's first day.
"To be honest with you, I couldn't be happier with what we got," Shaffer said. "We have the impact guy in the first round, followed by four power left-handed arms. I don't want to short change anyone else, but realistically, I didn't think we had the chance."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.