White Sox Draft Countdown: Top 10 picks from past 25 years (#3)
Only three players remain on our countdown, and the next guy on our list is pretty unique. Not only did he have a stellar career manning the hot corner in the Windy City, but he also has called the shots in the White Sox dugout. If that doesn’t give away number three on our list, then I don’t know what will.
Here he is…the skip….
#3 Robin Ventura: 1988 1st rd pick (10th overall)
Robin Ventura barely makes the cutoff for our rankings, as he was drafted in the first round of the 1988 MLB draft out of Oklahoma State University. He rushed onto the scene in Chicago just a little over a year after he was selected by the White Sox, making his big league debut in September of 1989. Ventura only played in 16 games and went 8-45 with seven runs batted in during his first taste of MLB action. The following season, he would play in 150 games and man the hot corner for the Southsiders–a spot he’d occupy for the next nine seasons in the Windy City. During his official rookie campaign, Ventura would bat .249, hit five homers and drive in 54 runs. His offense would then explode in 1991, as he belted 23 homers and drove in 100 runs while batting .284. He’d also win his first career Gold Glove for his stellar play at third base. From there on out, Ventura would assert himself as one of the more feared bats in the White Sox order. The years 1992-1996 really saw him continue to establish himself as an elite hitter. He would average 23 home runs, 93 RBI and hit .281 from the plate. Ventura also had a slugging percentage of .468 and an OBP of .376 (.844 OPS) during that five-year stretch. 1992 would mark his first ever all-star selection and his second career Gold Glove. He also would win the award in 1993 and 1996. Ventura’s three straight seasons of 90 RBI from 1991-93, marked the first time an AL third baseman would do so since the Yankees Graig Nettles did so in the late 70s. An unfortunate ankle injury in Spring Training of 1997 caused him to miss over 100 games that year. He would bounce back in 1998 and win his fifth Gold Glove, while hitting 21 homers and driving in 91 runs. Following that season, Ventura signed on with the New York Mets for a four-year deal. He certainly made some noise during the his first year at Shea, as he belted 32 homers and a career-high 120 runs batted in. Ventura also became the first player to ever hit grand slams in both games of a double header on May 20, 1999. He’d win his sixth gold glove that season and also finish sixth in the N.L. MVP voting. Over the next two seasons as a Met, his power numbers would decline a bit, as he averaged 22 homers and 72 RBI. Ventura got his first taste of the World Series in 2000 when the Mets faced the Yankees in the first Subway Series in almost 50 years. During the Fall Classic, he only had three hits with one of them being a solo home run. Ventura was traded to those same Yankees before the 2002 season. He would replace postseason hero Scott Brosius at the hot corner for the Bronx Bombers. In his only full season as a Yank, Ventura would smack 27 home runs and drive in 93 runs. With his career on the decline, New York would ship Ventura to the Dodgers the following season. He’d only hit .220 in 49 games for LA over the remainder of the 2003 season but would still earn a contract for 2004 year. The ’04 campaign would mark the final season of his 16-year career. In 102 games, he would only hit five homers and drive in 28 runs. At the age of 35, he retired following the Dodgers 2005 NLDS elimination due to arthritis in his right ankle. Ventura ended his career with a lifetime average of .267, 294 homers, 1182 RBI, six Gold Gloves and two all-star appearances. He would not be away from baseball that long though, for after a six year break, he became the 39th manager in Chicago White Sox history and the 17th former Southsider to manage his former club. In his first season as manager for the Sox, Ventura finished with a record of 85-77—just three games behind the division leading Tigers. He ended up being a finalist for American League Manager of the Year, but he lost out to the A’s Bob Melvin. Through 55 games this season, he currently has a 24-31 record. Few hitters were as feared in the White Sox lineup during most of the 1990s as Robin Ventura, as only future hall of famer Frank Thomas boasts better power numbers during that stretch. It is hard to truly measure Ventura’s legacy as a member of the White Sox, for although he was a great hitter and had one of the best gloves baseball had ever seen at third base, there is still plenty of time to further cement himself in team history as their skipper.
We’re down to the final two…don’t want miss these all-time White Sox greats. Check back tomorrow!
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
#5: Mike Cameron
#4: Ray Durham
#3: Robin Ventura
#1: THURSDAY (DRAFT DAY!)