Sox take college southpaw at No. 25
Poreda tabs himself 'a big lefty that loves to throw strikes'
CHICAGO -- The first incarnation of Aaron Poreda's athletic career would have made him a more likely first-round pick for the Chicago Bears, as opposed to the White Sox.
Poreda actually stood out on the gridiron for Campolindo High School in California, earning second team All-Conference honors in 2004 as a defensive lineman. But as of his junior year, Poreda decided baseball was the career path best-suited for him to follow.
On Thursday, shortly after 3 p.m. CT, the 6-foot-6, 240-pound southpaw completed the climb from a walk-on hurler at the University of San Francisco to an individual who could be contributing on the South Side of Chicago as a Major Leaguer in the next year or two. The White Sox selected Poreda with the 25th pick of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, sounding after the selection as if they were quite satisfied with the addition.
"One of the things we were emphasizing for this particular ballpark, which is pretty much of a home run hitters ballpark, is someone who can sink the ball and put the ball on the ground," said Duane Shaffer, the White Sox senior director of amateur scouting, who was part of the front office brain trust arriving at the Poreda pick.
"This guy had the best sinker we saw all year from a college left-hander," Shaffer said. "This was a guy we focused on and we were fortunate enough to get at 25."
Asked to describe himself as a pitcher during a Thursday evening conference call with the Chicago media, Poreda defined his style as "a big lefty that loves to throw strikes and force contact." His fastball tops out around 97 mph, but usually ranges from 91 to 96 mph.
A slider and changeup complete his repertoire, although Poreda added that he has been working on a cutter. Confidence also seems to play a crucial role in Poreda's success, judging by his comments made in regard to his Major League preparedness at the present time.
"Physically, I would be ready to compete at the Major League level," said Poreda, who doesn't have much more filling out or physical growth to do, based on his current size. "I need to critique a couple of pitches and work with the White Sox coaches. Whenever they want to bring me up, I'm more than ready.
"I need to develop full command of my slider, but it has been a great pitch for me already. Every day, it seems to be getting better and better. My changeup has been a great pitch, but if I throw it more and more, it will be there. My fastball is Major League ready."
|25||Poreda, Aaron||U San Francisco||LHP|
|89||Griffith, Nevin||Middleton HS||RHP|
|119||Ely, John||Miami U||RHP|
|149||Hunt, Leroy||Sacramento CC||RHP|
|179||Jones, Nathan||Northern Kentucky U||RHP|
As a junior starter for the Dons during the 2007 season, Poreda finished 7-6 with a 2.89 ERA over 14 starts. Poreda struck out 66 and walked 18 in 99 2/3 innings, and although he led the San Francisco staff in strikeouts over the past two years, he has the makings more of a control pitcher than a power arm.
"He's a ground ball pitcher, at least that's what I think," Shaffer said. "He's a guy who can pitch with his fastball, he can pitch to contact and he's going to get a lot of outs that way because his ball sinks so much."
This strong effort as a junior from Poreda followed a sophomore campaign, marking his first time moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation, in which he posted an 8-5 record with a 2.49 ERA. Shaffer watched Poreda pitch three times personally this year, in January, March and during his last game in May, and the White Sox saw Poreda 15 times cumulatively.
Assuming Poreda signs quickly, and he gave every indication Thursday that he planned to be part of the White Sox family, Shaffer felt Class A Winston-Salem would be a good starting place for the left-hander. Poreda said he hadn't watched a White Sox game recently and being from the East Bay area, he actually thought the Giants might have selected him with the 22nd overall pick.
"I thought that I had a good shot of going to the Giants, but now that I'm a [member of the] White Sox, I have a new favorite team," said Poreda, who was teammates at San Francisco with Stefan Gartrell, the White Sox 31st-round pick in 2006. "I can't wait to have the White Sox tell me where I'm going to go so I can get this process started."
Pitchers have been the White Sox top selection in each of the last three drafts, with Poreda following Lance Broadway (2005, 15th overall) and Kyle McCulloch (2006, 30th overall), marking the first such stretch since the team's drafts from 1974-76. But Poreda appears to be a bit less polished than the two previous hurlers, who practiced their craft at Texas universities.
But the White Sox made clear over the past few weeks that they were looking for the best available talent, a player who could be a little rawer in regard to baseball skills, but could develop into something special at the Major League level. The White Sox seemed to hit their target via the one-time defensive and offensive lineman turned frontline pitcher.
"We were always looking for the best player, the highest-ceiling athlete, the All-Star type guy," said Shaffer, who mentioned there was a position player of interest available with Poreda, but the White Sox opted for the pitcher. "He can pitch with his fastball. His secondary stuff, it needs some work.
"There's no question about that. You don't get a 6-foot-6 lefty, who throws 91-to-95 [mph], unless there's a glitch here and there. But we think we can work that out fairly quickly and get him on his way."
Other White Sox Day 1 selections:
RHP Nevin Griffith, Middleton (Tampa, Fla.) High School (second round, 89th overall)
Originally projected to go quite a bit higher, possibly as a sandwich pick, the White Sox just might have picked up a steal with the hard-throwing righty.
"[He's] tall, lean and he can throw the heck out of the ball," said Shaffer of Griffith, who has signed with Florida International University.
Griffith's fastball checks in currently between 90-94 mph. But with plenty of room to grow, the White Sox project out Griffith to throw even harder when he gets bigger and stronger.
RHP John Ely, Miami of Ohio (third round, 119th overall)
The Homewood-Flossmoor (Ill.) High School graduate won 18 games over the past two seasons for Miami of Ohio. According to Shaffer, he's another pitcher with a fastball between 90-95 mph. He also has a good breaking ball, good control and the all-important sink.
"Sink and power arms, that was an emphasis," said Shaffer of the five pitchers selected on Day 1, with 45 rounds coming Friday. "We were fortunate enough to get them."
RHP Leroy Hunt, Sacramento City College (fourth round, 119th overall)
A former outfielder, Hunt presents a little different look with his three-quarters delivery. Hunt finished 9-4 with a 1.99 ERA last year and held opposing hitters to a .199 average.
"He's a guy who can move fairly quickly if he throws enough strikes," Shaffer said.
RHP Nathan Jones, Northern Kentucky (fifth round, 179th overall)
Jones is another power arm out of Northern Kentucky, with a fastball topping out at 96 mph.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.