06/08/2004 8:36 PM ET
White Sox draft son of GM Williams
Frank Viola's son also selected on Day 2
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- There were some very familiar names taken by the White Sox during Tuesday's second day of the First-Year Player Draft. But those future players were known more for their fathers then their own accomplishments at this point.
The most recognizable individual was Kenneth Williams, an 18-year-old center fielder from Plainfield Central High School, selected in the 36th round. He just happens to be the son of White Sox general manager Ken Williams.
"We liked what we saw and wanted to draft him," said White Sox senior director of player personnel Duane Shaffer, who ran the draft for the South Siders. "He's one heck of an athlete.
"But Kenny wants him to get an education before he goes out. It's a pretty safe bet he's going to college, but you never know."
Back in Spring Training, the elder Williams said his son would be attending the University of Arizona in the fall. So, the likelihood of him signing with the White Sox might be even lower than the 1 or 2 percent where Shaffer guessed.
Frank Viola, the son of the former Major-League hurler, was taken in the 29th round by the White Sox as a draft-and-follow prospect. The main difference between the 19-year-old and his father is that the recently selected pitcher from Florida Community College throws right-handed. Peter Vuckovich Jr, a 23-year-old catcher, was the White Sox's third-to-last pick in the 48th round.
"Those kids have some good bloodlines," said Shaffer of Viola and Vuckovich, whose dad was a Cy Young winner with Milwaukee. "We liked Viola's arm, and once he fills out, he will throw even harder. Vuckovich threw the ball okay and caught it okay, but he had a lot of past injuries. We will take a chance and see what they look like."
Shaffer was more than pleased by the team's ability to take an impact player with its first pick in third baseman Josh Fields, then replenish the organization with left-handed pitching. The White Sox took 10 southpaws out of the 54 picks they had over the two days.
That list includes Clemson hurler Tyler Lumsden, the pitcher selected as a supplemental first-round pick, and Wes Whisler from UCLA and Noblesville, Ind. Whisler will get the rare opportunity for a double at either Great Falls or Single-A Kannapolis, in that he will serve as the team's designated hitter or play first base when he's not on the mound.
Fields or Lumsden could have the quickest impact at the Major-League level, according to Shaffer. Left-hander Ray Liotta, selected in the second round from Gulf Coast Community College, could be the sleeper of the draft, and Donny Lucy, also a second-round selection, gives the White Sox a much-needed frontline catcher in the minor leagues.
"I keep up on baseball as much as I can, so I follow the White Sox," Lumsden said. "I've never been to Chicago, but hopefully, I get there soon."
The feel good story of the draft was Bryan Wagner, an 18-year-old right-handed pitcher from Thunderbird High School in Phoenix, Ariz. Wagner, chosen in the 50th and final round, is a cancer survivor and was recommended by scout John Kazanas. His wife, Chris, succumbed to cancer in May of 2003.
Kazanas also is the scout who recommended Brian Anderson, last year's first-round selection who is tearing it up at Single-A Winston Salem. Anderson should have company soon from this latest draft class.
"We took the organization and filled a lot of the holes," said Shaffer, who said the team drafted heavy collegiately at the top and finished with a great deal of high school players.
"I'm just overly excited to have been taken in the first round and be a part of the White Sox organization," Fields added. "My head has yet to come out of the clouds."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.