White Sox Draft Countdown: Top 10 picks from past 25 years (#6)
After a two day break, we are back counting down the top 10 White Sox draft picks from the past 25 years. Today, we’ll reveal numbers six and five on our list. First up, is another 2005 World Champion. This is a guy who won over the hearts of White Sox fans thanks to the toughness he displayed on the field.
It is a two-time world champ that is next on our countdown…..
#6: Aaron Rowand: 1998 1st rd pick (35th overall)
Aaron Rowand was drafted by Chicago in the first round of the 1998 MLB Draft out of Cal State Fullerton. The center fielder would quickly rise up the Sox system and become a huge fan favorite in the Windy City. Rowand made his MLB debut on June 16, 2001 at the age of 23. He would only play in 63 games during the 2001 season, but he certainly made the most of the opportunity. In 148 at bats, Rowand collected 36 hits (.293), homered four times and drove in 20 runs. His OBP stood at .385 and he also stole five bases. The following season got off to a rough start for Rowand, as a dirt bike accident caused him to miss time during spring training due to a broken left shoulder blade and rib. He would recover in time for opening day and play in 126 games that year. During the 2002 season, Rowand would bat .258 with seven homers and 29 RBI–spending time defensively at all three outfield positions. In 2003, we would see the former first round pick take a step back in his playing career. He would struggle in his first 60 games with only a .133 batting average. This poor performance earned him a demotion to AAA Charlotte, where he would quickly figure things out. Rowand would eventually make it back up to Chicago, and he did disappoint, as he hit .387 over the course of his remaining 33 games. The following season, Rowand would break out of his proverbial shell–seeing the most playing time of his career up to that point. He totaled 151 base knocks and recorded a career-high .310 average to go with 24 homers and 69 runs batted in. Rowand continued to see success the following season during the White Sox 2005 World Series campaign. He would hit .270 with 13 home runs and again drive in 69 runs. In the 2005 American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox, Rowand hit .400 with two runs batted in. In total for the postseason that year, he batted .267 with six doubles and eight runs scored. Over the first five years of his MLB career, Rowand would be right up there with Paul Konerko, Frank Thomas, Joe Crede, and other White Sox fan favorites due to the passion and grit he would show on the diamond. This is why there were mixed reactions when he was traded to Philadelphia for Jim Thome less than two months after he helped the White Sox win their first World Series title since 1917. At the age of 27, Rowand was in the prime of his career, and he would continue to produce for his new NL team. In 2006, he immediately won over the hard-skinned Philly fan base by showing off his toughness after crashing face first into the Citizens Bank Park center field wall while tracking down a fly ball. The collision resulted in Rowand breaking multiple face bones, but at least he made the catch. He only hit .262 with 12 homers and 47 RBI during his first year for the Phillies, but he would bounce back in a big way in 2007 with his best statistical season of his entire career. Rowand would set career highs in homers (27) and RBI (89) while also batting .309 en route to helping the Phillies make it back to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. His strong performance on the field would earn him hist first (and only) career all-star game selection and gold glove. After his contract expired following the 2007 season, Rowand would sign on with the San Francisco Giants for a five year-$60 million contract. Rowand’s numbers would take a slide upon signing with the Giants, as he would never hit more than 15 homers or bat above .271 during his time in the Bay Area. The 2010 season would mark the last hurrah of Rowand’s 11-year career. He played in only 105 games for the World Champion Giants, but he did come up with a two-RBI triple in the eighth inning of San Fran’s game two win over the Rangers in the 2010 Fall Classic. Rowand would again see part-time action in 2011, and he only was able to manage a .233 average. He would be released by the Giants with over a year left on his contract in August of 2011. The Marlins then signed him to a minor league deal in 2012, but the outfielder did not make the team—thus ending his baseball career at the age of 34. Aaron Rowand may have split time between three different organizations over the time of his career that saw two World Championships, but it is hard to not remember him as a member of the White Sox. A heart and soul guy of the 2005 title team, Rowand will always be remembered as one of the players that helped break the Black Sox curse, and that alone will keep him enshrined in White Sox history for a long time to come.
Number five on our list will be up in an hour or two, so stay tuned.
Top 10 White Sox draft picks from past 25 years
#10: Addison Reed
#9: James Baldwin
#8: Joe Crede
#7: Chris Sale
#6: Aaron Rowand
#2: JUNE 5
#1: JUNE 6 (DRAFT DAY!)