6/7/2013 9:19 P.M. ET
Mitchell has power pitcher potential for White Sox
By Ethan Asofsky / MLB.com
TCU starter Andrew Mitchell had one of the best curveballs in college baseball last season. He learned it in one night over the phone.
Mitchell was a third baseman until his coach offered him a chance to pitch in his senior year of high school. The problem was he didn't know how to pitch. The only thing he understood was to rear back and fire, so he only possessed a fastball. Mitchell was frustrated with his lack of success and called his brother, who's eight years older and played college baseball.
"I called him and told him, 'Hey, my slider [stinks]. How do I throw this thing?'" Mitchell said. "He told me how to throw it. He said just put it deep in your hand and choke it more than you are, because I was holding it pretty loose in my fingertips. And the next day I struck out nine in three innings."
Over the next three years, the "slider" developed into the devastating 12-6 curveball that caught the White Sox attention on Day 2 of the MLB First-Year Player Draft on Friday, when Mitchell was selected in the fourth round with the 123rd pick.
"I wasn't drafted out of high school, so I didn't really know what to expect," Mitchell said. "I was just with my family. I'd just gone to get something to eat, and I came back. We were just kind of sitting on the couch, watching guys I knew get taken and all of a sudden my name pops up. It's just kind of surreal feeling that my dreams are going to come true. I'm going to get a chance to play after college."
Mitchell had no idea when he was going to be selected, and his family agreed to treat Friday like a normal day -- "Whatever happens, happens," he said. So minutes before he was selected, he was ordering food at Raising Cane's, a fast food chain that serves chicken fingers in Houston.
"We weren't trying to make a big deal out of it," Mitchell said. "The Draft is so unpredictable. Anything can happen, and what you think will happen probably won't happen. I was just trying to keep an open mind. A lot of people don't get the chance to play after college, so anything that happened would be a great thing for me."
His power stuff, paired with that tricky curveball, enabled him to strike out 11.8 hitters per nine innings and keep them to a .198 average in 2012, when he was named first-team Mountain West Conference selection.
Blessed with a power pitcher's frame at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Mitchell's size and durability were strong points in his favor. But he was hurt by shaky command. Mitchell walked 5.38 batters per nine as a sophomore and continued to have problems with the free pass this year. Mitchell said he knows he needs to attack the zone better, control his pitches and induce contact earlier in at-bats to be successful as a starter at the next level.
"We've had a little bit of success with guys with stuff," White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann said. "He's been up to 95-96 [mph] and he has a tremendous curveball. The control issues, we feel that our player development people can go in and get those guys straightened out."
Baseball runs in White Sox pick May's family
When Coastal Carolina outfielder Jacob May was 12, his father, former Minor Leaguer Lee May Jr., asked him if he wanted to learn how to switch-hit like his dad. May wanted to follow in his father and grandfather's footsteps to play professional baseball, and he of course said yes. So every night, May Jr. would take his son, a natural righty, outside and have him swing 500 times left-handed.
"At first I thought he was crazy, but then strangely enough, I actually started to feel more and more comfortable each day," May said. "I wouldn't change that for the world."
May Jr. wanted to give his son every opportunity to succeed in his baseball career, and on Friday all that hard work paid off. The Chicago White Sox selected May in the third round with the 91st overall pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
"Man, I'm just ecstatic. I'm here with my family, mom and dad and everyone in the living room," May said minutes after his selection. "I was just speechless when my name went across that board and they called my name. I couldn't do anything but break down in tears and thank the Lord and my family for everything they've done for me."
May Jr. played 12 seasons in the Minors, never making it to the big leagues. His father, Lee May Sr., totaled 2,031 hits and 324 home runs over his 18-year career in the Major Leagues.
There's little doubt May's Major League lineage, as well as his top-of-the-order and center field skills, surely caught Chicago's attention. White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann grew up in Cincinnati when May Sr. played for the Big Red Machine, and he also attended the same high school as May Jr. Laumann even coached May Jr. in basketball when the former Mets first-round pick was a senior in high school.
"The pedigree always helps but ultimately the kid was a very talented, great runner, great athlete, switch hitter, all the things we like to see in those kind of athletes," Laumann said.
May has some bat speed, but has to do a better job of making consistent hard contact. With improved jumps and routes, he'll be an above-average defender, though he can outrun mistakes now.
While May's game still has some developing, he produced impressive numbers as a junior at Coastal Carolina. He hit seven home runs, held a .321 batting average, knocked in 31 runs and swiped 16 bases. May said he'd like to build on his stolen-base numbers at the next level, because he views his speed as his greatest asset.
"I think there's more to tap there," May said. "I'll just keep working, keep tapping into that speed and using it to my advantage."
May's speed and switch-hitting skills project him closer to his father than his grandfather, who was considered a power hitter in his time. But May said he's learned from both of his familial mentors while developing into his own kind of player facing elite competition at Coastal Carolina.
"I've faced [Rockies third-overall pick in the Draft] Jonathan Gray, there's that right there," May said. "I'm more of my dad but my own person as well. I take in everything they say to me and learn from them."
In the pipeline: The White Sox selected shortstop Tim Anderson out of East Central Community College in Mississippi with their No. 1 pick on Thursday. The multi-talented Anderson immediately becomes one of the top prospects in Chicago's depleted farm system that features mostly outfield farmhands at the top of the organization. Alexei Ramirez is currently in the second season of a four-year $32.5 million contract to be the White Sox Major League shortstop of the near future, but Anderson's athleticism might allow him to move around the diamond. The only middle-infield prospect in Anderson's way is Carlos Sanchez, who is a versatile player that can also play several positions.
After Anderson, the White Sox added Durant High School right-hander Tyler Danish from Plant City, Fla. Chicago had a desperate need for young arms in the farm system. While Danish is still a project, the 18-year-old dominated in 17 outings -- 15 starts -- this season. The right-hander, who boasts a funky delivery reminiscent of White Sox hurler Jake Peavy, posted a 15-1 record, struck out 156, only walked 16 and didn't allow an earned run for 94 straight innings.
The White Sox went with another arm with their fourth selection, taking TCU right-hander Andrew Mitchell. They followed that pick with Texas right-hander Thaddius Lowry from Spring High School in the fifth round and Cal State-San Marcos senior starter James Dykstra. Chicago took its second position player of Day 2 in the seventh round, drafting high school shortstop Trey Michalczewski. His big frame and power bat profile for a likely shift over to third base at the next level.
The White Sox closed the day by taking three more arms to restock the farm system. They took their lone southpaw of the day in South Mountain Community College left-hander Chris Freudenberg, then closed with right-handed reliever Nick Blount from Southern Polytechnic State in Georgia and Ohio State starter Brad Goldberg.
White Sox grab prep RHP Lowry in fifth round
The White Sox selected right-handed pitcher Thaddius Lowry out of Spring High School (Texas) in the fifth round (153rd overall pick) of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday afternoon.
Lowry was viewed primarily as a catcher before his fastball velocity spiked last year. He has touched 96 mph this spring, but more regularly throws around 90 mph. Listed at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Lowry has excellent size for a right-hander. That and his inexperience on the mound lead scouts to think he will be able to sustain higher velocity down the road as he gets more comfortable as a pitcher.
Lowry also throws a slider and splitter, but both are still in their nascent stages. He aggressively attacks hitters and is viewed mostly as a thrower, but there are some signs he is beginning to get a better feel for pitching.
Lowry is committed to Texas Tech.
Dykstra's senior campaign catches White Sox eye
The White Sox selected another right-handed pitcher in the sixth round in Cal State-San Marcos senior James Dykstra. He went 9-4 with a 2.02 ERA in 13 starts this season and was named to the All-Association of Independent Institutions First Team.
Dykstra transferred from LSU after his sophomore year because coaches told him there would be a shortage of playing time and a spot might not open up for him. He had offers from Texas and Alabama but had to choose an NAIA school because of transfer regulations. Dykstra never heard of Cal State-San Marcos before he had to start his search for a home, but he made a connection with pitching coach Pat Hause.
He immediately performed for the Cougars in his junior year, getting named National Association of Independent Institutions Pitcher of the Year in 2012. He thought his junior season might have been enough to warrant a selection in last year's Draft, but the phone never rang.
Dykstra returned to set single-season school records for wins, ERA for pitchers over 30 innings, strikeouts and complete games. After a year of dominating college competition, he'll finally be making the jump to the professional ranks in Chicago's organization.
Infielder Michalczewski goes to White Sox
Trey Michalczewski played shortstop and second base at Jenks (Okla.) High School, but will almost certainly move to third base in the White Sox organization after he was drafted in the seventh round on Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday.
Michalczewski has always had power. He hit eight home runs as a sophomore and four as a junior but produced career-best numbers as a senior, when he hit nine home runs and drove in 46 runs while boasting a .449 batting average. He's helped lead Jenks to two regional titles in the past two years.
He has a good approach at the plate and his bat speed allows him to let the ball get deep in the strike zone before starting to swing. Listed at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, Michalczewski already has good size and projects to have good power, which profiles better at the hot corner. He is a solid defender at short with a strong arm and should easily make the transition to third.
Michalczewski is committed to Oklahoma, but he has previously said he's always dreamed of playing professional baseball.
Breakout season lands Freudenberg with White Sox
Chris Freudenberg began his college career at Central Arizona Junior College last year before transferring to Arizona Christian that spring. He then moved onto South Mountain Community College this year, where the left-hander held a 2.72 ERA in 16 appearances and stuck out 96 batters in 76 innings.
Despite all the movement, Freudenberg managed a breakout season and will now move into the White Sox organization after he was selected in the eighth round of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday.
Freudenberg throws in the upper-80s to low-90s with a clean, easy arm action. His velocity dipped late in the season, likely as a result of a heavy workload that included starting and relieving. He totaled a 5-6 record as a starter and also saved three games this season. Freudenberg also throws a curveball and cutter.
He will need to add a changeup and fill out his 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame to remain a starter as a professional.
Righty Blount added to White Sox arm stockpile
The White Sox continued to restock the pitching in their farm system with ninth-round pick Nick Blount out of Southern Polytechnic State in Georgia. The 6-foot-6-inch, 230-pound senior attended the University of Tennessee before transferring to the Hornets.
Blount started four games but served primarily out of the bullpen this season. He held a 2.74 ERA and struck out 60 in 42 2/3 innings of work over 20 appearances. The right-hander also saved eight games as Southern Polytechnic's primary closer.
Blount never found sustained success at Tennessee. Coming out of high school, he was ranked the No. 16 overall prospect and No. 9 pitching prospect from the state of Georgia. He struggled in his first two years before piecing together his best year as a member of the Vols in his junior season. He held a 4.63 ERA in 35 innings split between the bullpen and starting in 2012.
After he'd announced his transfer to Southern Polytechnic, Blount was one of 30 players to be named to the Prospect League Top Prospects list by Perfect Game USA in September 2012.
White Sox close Day 2 with Buckeyes' Goldberg
Ohio State starter Brad Goldberg became the sixth pitcher and fifth right-hander of the White Sox 2013 Draft selections, when he was chosen in the 10th and final round of Day 2.
Goldberg doesn't have an extensive track record for a college pitcher. He threw 20 innings in his first two seasons at Coastal Carolina and sat out the entire 2011 season after transferring to the Buckeyes. He then had to miss all of '12 after some of his credits didn't transfer into Ohio State and was thus ruled academically ineligible.
But the two-year layoff was worth the wait, as Goldberg emerged as Ohio State's ace in his senior season. He compiled a 6-1 record while holding a 2.99 ERA over 15 starts. He struck out 68 batters in 81 1/3 innings while walking 46.
Goldberg's slider has only improved as an out pitch. It shows good tilt and sits in the 82-84-mph range. His best pitch, however, is his fastball, which can reach the mid-90s and usually sits between 89-92 mph. Ohio State coaches have made much his fastball much more consistent this season than it was at Coastal Carolina.
While Goldberg excelled as a starter with the Buckeyes, Ohio State coach Greg Beals told Baseball America the senior might rise faster in Chicago's organization if he transitioned to a reliever.
Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.