White Sox Draft Countdown: Top 10 picks from past 25 years (#9)

The next guy on our list may be a familiar name for many of you Chicago fans who remember the “dark years” of the late 1990s.  From 1995-99, the Sox would only finish above .500 one time (’96) and fail to reach the playoffs each of those seasons.  This player was considered the ace of many of those teams in the latter part of the 20th century.  Coming in at number nine…

#9 James Baldwin: 1990 4th rd pick (105th overall)

BaldwinCWSDrafted by the White Sox in the fourth round of the 1990 MLB Draft out of Pinecrest High School (NC), James Baldwin would soon prove to have one of the more successful decades of any pitcher to don the black and white.  Baldwin’s career in Chicago spanned seven seasons, in which he tabbed a 69-53 record.  Only three White Sox pitchers recorded more wins than Baldwin during the 1990s (Jack McDowell, Alex Fernandez, and Wilson Alvarez), and his four seasons of double-digit wins in that stretch were only topped by one other pitcher (McDowell).  After five years in the minor leagues, Baldwin would finally get his shot with the big league club on April 30, 1995.  The righty would only total six appearances (four starts) that season, and it would mark the only time we would see him finish without 10+ wins until 2002.  Over the next six years, Baldwin would quickly solidify himself as the staff’s ace.  In 1996, he would start 28 games for Chicago and finish 11-6 record with an earned run average of 4.42.  With his first full-year under his belt, Baldwin would then return in 1997 and win 12 games, which tied Doug Drabek for the most on the season by a White Sox pitcher.  He would continue to be effective on the mound over the next two seasons, stringing together double-digit wins in 1998 (13) and 1999 (12).  It was the turn of the millennium that saw Baldwin’s best season of his 11-year career, as he compiled a 14-7 record with a 4.65 ERA.  The year 2000 marked a season of firsts for Baldwin—14 wins, an all-star game selection, and a start in the postseason (6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER in ND against Seattle in ALDS).  These indeed would all be firsts and lasts for the then-28-year old, as injuries derailed the remainder of his career.  2001 was the last time Baldwin would pitch in a White Sox uniform, as he was traded to the Dodgers in July of 2001.  The former fourth-round draft pick would only record ten wins after leaving Chicago (three in ’01 and seven in ’02).  From 2001-05, Baldwin would pitch for six different teams, and he would fail to get a win in the final three seasons of his career.  James Baldwin retired in 2006 after he failed to make the Toronto Blue Jays roster.  He currently is the pitching coach for his alma mata–Pinecrest High School.  His son, James Baldwin III, followed in his father’s footsteps and was drafted right out of Pinecrest by the Dodgers in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft.  He is currently playing in low-A ball with the Great Lakes Loons.  When it is all said and done, James Baldwin’s career numbers (79-74, 5.01 ERA) may not stick out in any record book, but the consistency he brought to a rebuilding Chicago team in the latter part of the the 1990s cannot be forgotten.

Tomorrow, at number eight, we will check in with our first hitter on the list.

Top 10 White Sox draft picks from past 25 years

#10: Addison Reed

#9: James Baldwin

#8: TOMORROW

#7: FRIDAY

#6: JUNE 3

#5: JUNE 3

#4: JUNE 4

#3: JUNE 4

#2: JUNE 5

#1: JUNE 6 (DRAFT DAY!)

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