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12/03/09 10:00 AM EST

White Sox excited about '09 Draft crop

Mitchell, Phegley, Thompson on fast track to Major Leagues

With the 2009 season and Arizona Fall League (where several 2009 draftees got their first taste of pro ball) in the books, we take a look at the early results of each club's '09 Draft class: how their top picks did; late-round picks that fared well; which picks are likely to move up the ladder quickest; and which picks clubs were unable to sign.

In the past few years, the Chicago White Sox have not been afraid to fast-track their Draft picks and 2009 was no exception. After seeing several of their high-round picks from 2008 finish that summer in full-season leagues and two of them -- shortstop Gordon Beckham and right-hander Daniel Hudson -- making it to the Majors in '09, it would be difficult to predict where most of them will be a year from now.

NL East

AL East

NL Central

AL Central

NL West

AL West

This year, the team signed 39 of its 52 selections, going for upside position players with its first three picks before reeling off a string of eight pitchers, five from the college ranks.

The White Sox sandwiched a pair of toolsy outfielders with first pick Jared Mitchell out of Louisiana State and California high school star Trayce Thompson, the son of former NBA star Mychal Thompson, around Indiana catcher Josh Phegley for an impressive top three.

After that, though, they made a run on pitching, including two high school arms in Florida left-hander David Holmberg and California right-hander Matt Heidenreich.

"That's something we hadn't done much in the past," player development director Buddy Bell noted. "Before I got here, most of the players we took were more from the college level. But by design we wanted to get higher-ceiling guys out of high school who we could project."


Top five picks 1. Jared Mitchell, OF: The Sox sent the athletic outfielder, taken with the 23rd overall pick, right to full-season Class A Kannapolis, where the 20-year-old left-handed hitter batted .296 with 10 RBIs and 12 doubles in 34 games. A football star who didn't start focusing on baseball until recently, he showed great instincts and plate patience, both good signs for the future, and has plus speed though only an average arm, which will limit him to left or center field.

1. Josh Phegley, C: Though Phegley's strength is his bat more than his defense, the Indiana product calls a good game and is working hard on refining the other aspects of his work behind the plate. A power hitter who blasted 32 homers in his last two years for the Hoosiers, he batted .224 with nine homers and 33 RBIs in 52 games in his debut at Kannapolis with a .408 slugging percentage.

2. Trayce Thompson, OF: Thompson, at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, doesn't have the size of his 6-foot-10 dad Mychal, who was the top pick in the 1978 NBA draft, but he has his athletic bloodlines. Though he hit just .198 without a homer in his pro debut between short-season Great Falls and Bristol, his offensive upside is high as a true center fielder with instincts, speed and a good arm.

2. David Holmberg, LHP: The high schooler from Port Charlotte, Fla., doesn't have a lot of physical projectability left despite his young age at 6-foot-4 and 220, but he's got four pitches with a fastball that touches 90, a 12-6 curve, a changeup and a slider and has a good feel for the mound. At Bristol, he posted a 4.73 ERA in 14 games, striking out 37 in 40 innings.

4. Matt Heidenreich, RHP: The California high school pick does have a lot of physical projection remaining at a lanky 6-foot-5 and 185, and posted a 4.50 ERA in 16 games in relief at Bristol, striking out 12 and walking 12 in 22 innings.

Best of the rest

RHP Kyle Bellamy (5) out of Miami is a fast-track prospect who combined for a 1.23 ERA in 20 games in relief between Bristol and Kannapolis, walking just 2 while striking out 32 in 22 innings. He limited hitters to a .169 average and then moved on to the Arizona Fall League where he had a 1.59 ERA in five games. ... RHP Justin Collop (6), out of Toledo, had a 2.72 ERA in 15 games for Great Falls, striking out 33 in 39 2/3 innings and limiting Pioneer League hitters to a .257 average. ... RHP Ryan Buch (8) out of Monmouth had the best fastball in the Draft class, one that touched the high 90s, as well as a curveball with plus potential. In 16 games in relief he had a 3.38 ERA and limited hitters to a .183 average at Great Falls. ... The Sox saw great debuts from another pair of Indiana collegiate stars in Indiana State outfielders Nick Ciolli (10) and Brady Shoemaker (19). Ciolli hit .317 at Great Falls and stole 22 bases. Shoemaker was an Appalachian League All-Star at Bristol, hitting .351 with 21 doubles and a .426 on-base average as well as a .585 slugging percentage. Both were Missouri Valley Conference All-Stars and marked the second year in a row that the Sox struck gold with a pair of lesser-known college teammates in the same Draft -- last year they got outstanding pro debuts from Old Dominion teammates and roommates Dan Hudson, now in the Majors, and Dexter Carter, who was one of the four prospects dealt to San Diego in the Jake Peavy trade.

Fast risers

Despite the fact that he had not concentrated on baseball before this, Mitchell could move quickly. Keep an eye on fifth-round right-hander Bellamy out of Miami, as well as the Indiana State duo of outfielders Ciolli (10) and Shoemaker (19).


The club was unable to come to terms with its fifth pick, third-round LHP Bryan Morgado out of Tennessee, a Draft-eligible sophomore who hit the radar after a great year in the Cape Cod League. He returned to the Vols. LHP Justin Jones (7), a high school pitcher out of California, came close to signing but in the end headed to Cal-Berkeley.

Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.