Archive for the ‘ Top 10 White Sox draft picks from past 25 years ’ Category

White Sox Draft Countdown: Top 10 picks from past 25 years (#1)

Well, with the MLB Draft less than an hour away, what better time would there be to reveal the number one player on our countdown of the top ten White Sox draft picks from the past 25 years.  Before we get to the top dog, let us revisit players #10-2.

#10: Addison Reed

#9: James Baldwin

#8: Joe Crede

#7: Chris Sale

#6: Aaron Rowand

#5: Mike Cameron

#4: Ray Durham

#3: Robin Ventura

#2: Mark Buehrle

Rarely has Major League Baseball seen a hitter quite like the guy atop our list.  He’s one of the best power hitters to ever play the game, and one of the most beloved Southsiders of all-time.  You’ll be seeing him in Cooperstown as early as 2014.

This man needs no introduction…..

#1 Frank Thomas: 1989 1st rd pick (7th overall)

Frank Thomas was drafted in the first round of the 1989 MLB Draft out of Auburn.  It didn’t take the “Big Hurt” too long to crack the White Sox, as he made his big league debut the following season on August 2.  In limited playing time during the 1990 campaign, Thomas hit .330, hit seven homers and drove in 31 runs.  The year after, Thomas would earn a spot as the team’s starting first baseman.  He’d show instantly that he was capable of being an offensive powerhouse, as he belted 32 home runs and drove in 109 runs, while maintaining a .318 batting average.  His prowess at the plate earned him a Silver Slugger Award and a third place finish in A.L. MVP voting.  In 1993, Thomas would once again be one of the top hitters in the game.  He belted 25 homers and had 115 RBI.  Thomas led the league with 42 doubles, and he also hit .323.  The years 1993 and 1994 would mark two of the best in his career, as Thomas won his only two career MVP awards.  In 1993, he hit 41 homers and also had 128 RBI.  In a strike-shortened 1994, Thomas finished with 38 homers and 101 RBI after th (2)113 games.  He was on pace to hit around 50 home runs, if the season had not been cancelled, and he was also in contention for the prestigious Triple Crown.  Over the next four seasons, Thomas would continue to eat up opposing pitching.  From 1995-98 he averaged 36 HR, 120 RBI per season with a batting average of .316.  He led the league in batting once (1997) during this stretch and made the all-star team from 1995-97.  Over an 11 season stretch from 1991-2000, the Big Hurt hit 30 home runs or more a miraculous eight times.  In fact, Thomas had the eighth most home runs of the entire 1990s.  Thomas would hit a career-high 43 homers during the 2000 season for the A.L. Central Division Champion White Sox and finish second in A.L. MVP voting.  Injuries plagued Thomas during the 2001 campaign, as he needed season-ending surgery for torn triceps.  He would only play 20 games that season.  He would bounce back in 2003 to finish tied for second in the league with 42 home runs, but in 2004 he would play less than half a season due to nagging injuries.  Thomas was not on the active roster for the 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox, but it did not stop him from making an impact in the playoffs.  During game one of the Division Series against the Boston Red Sox, Thomas was chosen to throw out the first pitch.  This was an honor that he declared one of the “best’ of his career.  He would not re-sign with the Southsiders following the 2005 season, as he inked a new contract with the Oakland Athletics.  The 2006 campaign would mark his last as one of the game’s best power hitters, as he hit 39 dingers and drove in 114 runs.  The following season–with the Toronto Blue Jays–he would still manage 26 home runs and 95 runs batted in.  The Big Hurt set two milestones during the 2007 season.  First, on June 17, he became the all-time leader in home runs by a designated hitter with 244.  The record has since been broken by Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.  Less than two weeks later, he would join baseball immortality by hitting his 500th home run of his career.  Thomas would be released by Toronto the following season in mid-April.  He would soon sign back on with the Athletics, with whom he would finish out his 19-year career.  Frank Thomas finished his career with 521 home runs, 1704 runs batted in, and a lifetime average of .301.  He is the White Sox franchise leader in career home runs, RBI, and hits.  It is safe to say that there has never been a player like Frank Thomas to put on a White Sox uniform.  On July 31, 2011 the White Sox gave Thomas the ultimate honor of dedicating an outfield statue to him–the eighth in team history.  To put into perspective how great of a hitter he was, only five players have recorded more homers and have had a higher batting average in their careers than Thomas-Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Manny Ramirez.  He’ll be up for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame next season, and I don’t think that there is any doubt that we’ll see a Frank Thomas plaque someday in Cooperstown.  Players like Frank Thomas come around once in a lifetime.  He’s already gone down in history as the greatest player in Chicago White Sox history, and that’s saying something for a franchise that has been around for over 110 years.  They just don’t quite make him like the Big Hurt anymore.

White Sox Draft Countdown: Top 10 picks from past 25 years (#2)

We’re down to two names on our countdown, and the next guy on the list has been one of the game’s top pitchers in the past 13 years.  The anchor of the White Sox rotation for over a decade, our #2 certainly earned his due over the years in the Windy City.  It is hard to believe that 1138 players were taken over him in the 1998 draft, as he turned out to be one of the biggest steals in MLB history.

Coming in at #2….

#2 Mark Buehrle: 1998 38th rd pick (1139th overall)

Mark Buehrle was drafted by the White Sox in the 38th round of the 1998 draft out of Jefferson College (MO).  Despite being picked so low in the draft, Buehrle skyrocketed his way up the system by making his MLB debut on July 16, 2000.  He would pitch mainly out of the bullpen during his rookie season, as he only made three starts.  Buehrle compiled a record of 4-1 that season with a 4.21 ERA.  The following year, Buehrle would lead the White Sox with 16 wins on the season.  The lefty also compiled a 3.29 ERA in 32 starts, which was good enough for fourth in the American League.  He also recorded a stretch of 24 1/3 innings without allowing a run, which was the longest streak by a White Sox pitcher since 1967.  Buehrle would make his first all-star appearance in 2002, as he once again led 127410426_display_imageChicago in wins (19) and ERA (3.58).  No one had more wins in a W’hite Sox uniform than Buehrle during the 2000s, as he definitely solidified himself as the team’s ace for most of the decade.  Over the next nine seasons, Buehrle would record double-digit wins in each year, totaling 122 victories, and an average ERA of 3.91.  He would rank in the top ten in the league in ERA on four different occasions (2004, 2005, 2007).  Buehrle would also finish top ten in wins three times in that stretch (2004, 2005, 2008), and he’d show off his defensive ability by winning a Gold Glove in 2009, 2010 and 2011.  Only seven pitchers recorded more wins than Buehrle in the first decade of the new millennium, and few could boast the consistency that he brought to the table.  The staff’s ace also stepped up big when his team needed him most.  During the 2005 playoff run that saw Chicago win their first World Championship since 1917, he compiled a 2-0 record in 23 1/3 innings of work.  That same season, he was named to his third all-star game, and he was chosen to start for the American League after Roy Halladay was scratched with an injury.  Buehrle was also selected for the all-star roster in 2004 and 2009—totaling four career selections.  One of the finest moments of his career came on April 18, 2007, as he threw a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers.  It marked the first time in U.S. Cellular Field history that a n0-no had been thrown in that park.  He bested the no-hitter two seasons later, on July 23, 2009, as he tossed the eighteenth perfect game in MLB history against Tampa Bay.  Buehrle joined an exclusive list of five other hurlers who threw a perfect game and a no-hitter that included hall of famers Cy Young and Sandy Koufax.  Future hall of famers Randy Johnson and Roy Halladay have also completed this feat.  Buehrle also took the ball for the White Sox in a franchise record eight games, and he also is the only pitcher to ever throw multiple no-hitters and win multiple Gold Gloves.  Upon entering free agency following the 2011 season, Buehrle would not re-sign with the team that drafted him.  Instead, he inked a four-year $58 million deal with the Miami Marlins.  In 12 seasons with Chicago, he recorded 161 wins–which is the sixth highest total in franchise history.  He also notched 1396 strikeouts for the Southsiders, good enough for fourth all-time in White Sox history.  In his first and only year as a Marlin, Buehrle finished 13-13 with an ERA of 3.74.  He then was traded to the Tornoto Blue Jays that winter in a blockbuster twelve player deal.  At the age of 34, Buehrle is currently on pace to have his worst season of his career.  Right now, he only has a record of 2-4 with a 5.42 ERA in 12 starts.  Although Mark Buehrle is no longer a member of the White Sox, his legacy will never leave U.S. Cellular.  His Chicago resume of 160+ wins, two no-hitters, three Gold Gloves, four all-star appearances and a World Series title marks one of the best the franchise has ever seen.  If one were to assemble a starting rotation with the pool consisting of every White Sox pitcher, Mark Buehrle would certainly be a part of it.

Only one name remains on our countdown….and he will be revealed later this afternoon.

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

#2: Mark Buehrle

#1: TODAY (DRAFT DAY!)

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 Goldth 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 th (1)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

#2: TOMORROW

#1: THURSDAY (DRAFT DAY!)

White Sox Draft Countdown: Top 10 picks from past 25 years (#4)

Now that we have reached the final four of our countdown, it is worth noting that these four players are each on a different level than the previous six.  Sure, the players already listed have either A. had a respectable MLB career or B. are well on their way to having just that, but this quartet can call be remembered as some of the best players Chicago has seen over the past 25 years.  Only fitting the fourth ranked player is someone White Sox fans saw a TON of in the late 1990s-early 2000s.

He really needs no introduction…..

#4: Ray Durham: 1990 5th rd pick (132nd overall)

Ray Durham was drafted in the fifth round of the 1990 MLB Draft by the White Sox out of Harding High School (NC).  It took the speedy middle infielder four and a half years to crack the White Sox roster, as he made his big league debut on April 26, 1995.  Durham hit .257 his first season in the bigs, stole 18 bases and drove in 51 runs.  Due to his knack of getting on base and his rare speed, he was placed at the top of Chicago’s lineup, and over the course of his career in the Windy City, he would become one of the best lead-off hitters in franchise history.  In 1996, we would see Durham’s average rise to .275, and his stolen base numbers would be higher as well.  His 30 stolen bags would be the sixth highest amount in the entire American League.  Over the next four seasons, Durham would solidify himself as one of the game’s top lead-off guys.  In those four years, he averaged 177 hits, 15 homers, a .283 batting average, a .358 OBP and 32 stolen bases.  During that stretch, he also would earn his two career all-star appearances (1998 and 2000).  chi_whitesox_greatest_44Durham would rank second in the A.L. in runs scored in 1998 with 126.  In 2001, his numbers would drop just a tad.  His batting average fell to .267 and he only managed to steal 23 bases—the lowest total since his rookie season.  That year would be Durham’s last full season in Chicago, for 2002 he only played in 96 games before he was traded to Oakland on July 25.  Eight of his 14 years in baseball were spent with Chicago, and he still can be found in the White Sox record books.  He is currently the club’s all-time leader in lead-off homers with 20.  He also ranks fifth in steals (219), seventh in doubles (249) and eighth in runs (784).  Durham made the most of his short time in Oakland, as he hit .274 and had an OBP in only 54 games with the Athletics to help push them back to the playoffs.  When 2002 concluded, he joined some elite company.  From 2000-02, Durham totaled at least 15 homers, 100 runs, 20 steals, a .450 slugging percentage and 65 RBI–thus becoming the 10th player in MLB to post these numbers in three consecutive seasons.  To put those three seasons into perspective, he joined such players as Hank Aaron, Joe Morgan and Alex Rodriguez, who also accomplished this feat.  Durham signed on with the San Francisco Giants with a four-year deal before the 2003 season.  The first three years of the contract would see Durham be plagued with hamstring injuries.  He would miss a combined 92 games in his first two seasons in San Francisco.  Despite his injury woes, he still managed to post a .286 average over those three years, but his stolen base numbers would drastically decline.  He would average less than eight stolen bases per season.  The Giants would exercise Durham’s player option for the 2005 season, and that’s when we would begin to see him a have a different approach at the plate.  At the age of 34, he no longer had to the legs that he used to, but Durham still had a very productive season thanks to a power outburst.  He was moved to the five spot in the lineup entering 2005 and would eventually have his finest season offensively.  Durham posted career highs in homers (26), RBI (93) and also batted .290.  He had salvaged what had once been deemed a declining career, and that earned him another two year deal with the Giants.  In 2007, Durham’s power numbers would begin to decline, as he only hit 11 home runs and drove in 71 runs.  The following season, he would split time between San Francisco and Milwaukee.  On June 12, 2008 he recorded his 2000th career hit.  Only 272 players in the history of baseball have reached this mark.  Following the 2008 season, at the age of 37, Durham was once again a free agent.  No team would offer him a Major League deal, so he decided to walk away from baseball after fourteen successful seasons.  Ray Durham will always be known as one of the game’s best lead-off hitters from the clouded era that he played in.  He finished his career with 2054 hits, 440 doubles (113th all-time), a lifetime batting average of .277 and a .352 OBP.  It is difficult to remember the late 1990s/early 2000s lead-off hitters and not think of  “The Sugarman”.

#3 on our list will be up in just a bit….

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: TODAY

#2: TOMORROW

#1: THURSDAY (DRAFT DAY!)

White Sox Draft Countdown: Top 10 picks from past 25 years (#5)

The next guy on our list hardly spent any time in the Windy City with the White Sox, as Chicago would be the first of eight different stops throughout his 17-year career.  Oddly enough, this player may be more remembered by White Sox fans for the guy he was eventually traded for, but nonetheless, he certainly had one heck of a career.

Up next on our countdown…..

#5: Mike Cameron: 1991 18th rd pick (488th overall)

Mike Cameron was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 18th round of the 1991 MLB Draft.  The speedy center fielder spent a little over four years in the minors until he made his big league debut on August 27, 1995.  Over the course of the remainder of the season, Cameron would play in 28 games and hit .228.  The following season, he would again split time between Chicago and the minors–only playing in 11 games.  He got his first real taste of MLB action in 1997.  Cameron played in 116 games during that season and launched 14 homers while driving in 55 runs.  He also would show off his speed on the base paths, by stealing 23 bases.  In 1998, we would see Cameron’s numbers take a dip, as he only hit .210 with eight homers and 43 RBI in 141 games.  Though, he did manage to steal four more bases despite the offensive struggles.  Unlike most of the players on this list, Cameron did not make a name for himself while Untitled-1playing for the White Sox.  1998 marked his final season in Chicago, as he was traded to the Reds for what turned to be one of the best players in franchise history–Paul Konerko.  Cameron would only spend one season in Cincinnati, and he would see his numbers climb to a respectable mark.  He hit .256 with 21 home runs and 66 runs batted in during the 1999 season.  Cameron also stole 38 bases that year, which ranked fifth in the National League.  After the turn of the millennium, Cameron would once again be involved in a trade.  This time, he was sent out to Seattle in a package for Ken Griffey Jr.  His numbers would continue to rise in his first season as a Mariner, in which he also got his first taste of the postseason.  But, it was 2001 that really saw Cameron’s coming out party.  The Seattle team he played for boasted names like Ichiro Suzuki, Edgar Martinez, Brett Boone, and Jamie Moyer.  The Mariners that season won 116 games—more than any other team in MLB history.  With all of his team’s success, Cameron also saw vast improvement at the dish.  He recorded his best power numbers to that point in his career with 25 homers and 110 RBI.  2001 marked the only year that he surpassed 90 runs batted in.  He also stole 30+ bases for the second time in three seasons and earned his only career all-star appearance.  When the season was all said and done, Cameron would finish 16th in the A.L. MVP voting and be rewarded with his first of three career Gold Gloves.  Cameron’s last two seasons in Seattle would not see the same success, as he averaged .246 at the plate–combining for 43 HR, 156 RBI and only 48 SB.  He would sign on with the Mets for the 2004 season, and he would set a career high in home runs with 30.  Those numbers would drop a bit the following season, which would be his last in New York.  Cameron was traded for the third time in his career in November 2005, as he was shipped to San Diego for Xavier Nady.  After a down year the season before, Cameron would have a resurgent 2006, as he hit .268 with 22 home runs and 83 RBI.  He’d spend one more year out west before landing with the Brewers in 2008.  Despite being in his mid-30’s, Cameron still was very productive from 2006-2009.  He totaled 92 homers and 301 ribbies in those four seasons with a .251 average.  The final two seasons of his career would take place in Boston and Florida, but he would only play in 126 games.  Mike Cameron last played in the majors at age 38 with the Marlins.  He finished off his 17-year career with 278 homers, 960 runs batted in, 297 stolen bases and a lifetime average of .249.  Very rarely in the game of baseball do you see someone possess a mix of power and speed.  That is exactly what Mike Cameron could boast, and he did so for seventeen seasons.  Indeed, the glory years of his career will be remembered more so in Seattle and San Diego, but many forget that it began in the mid-nineties as a member of the White Sox.  Any true Chicago fan, at the very least, will remember him as the guy traded for franchise icon Paul Konerko.  In a rare instance, it is safe to say that while the trade certainly worked out for the White Sox, Mike Cameron made out alright as well.

Only four spots left on our countdown.  We reveal two more 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: TOMORROW

#3: TOMORROW

#2: JUNE 5

#1: JUNE 6 (DRAFT DAY!)

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 thbroken 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 th (1)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

#5: TODAY

#4: TOMORROW

#3: TOMORROW

#2: JUNE 5

#1: JUNE 6 (DRAFT DAY!)

White Sox Draft Countdown: Top 10 picks from past 25 years (#7)

The second current Chicago White Sox player is next up on our list.  To be honest, this was one of the toughest guys to rank for our top ten because he hasn’t necessarily been around the league that long.  But, for the year’s he has been in the majors, it is safe to say that he’s already established himself as one of the top pitchers in the game.

Coming in at number seven…..

#7 Chris Sale: 2010 1st rd pick (13th overall)

It may be hard to imagine a guy with less than three years of major league experience cracking our top ten (let alone number seven), but Chris Sale is just that good.  Drafted by Chicago in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft, Sale quickly rose up the ranks in the White Sox organization after only one full year in the minor leagues.  Sale played his college ball at Florida Gulf Coast University, and upon being drafted, he was immediately sent to Advanced A Winston-Salem—completely bypassing the first two levels in the system.  In 11 games total between Winston-Salem and AAA Charlotte (all out of relief), he threw 10 1/3 innings of three-run ball.  In a rare feat, he would actually make his big league debut only a few months after he was drafted (the first of his class to make the big leagues), as he was called up to pitch out of the bullpen September 1, 2010.  He would go on to pitch in 21 games over the course of the remainder of the season–appearing in 21 games with a sub-two ERA.  The following season, Sale thmade the White Sox Opening Day roster–once again as a reliever.  Over the course of 58 games that season, Sale would throw 71 innings and boast an ERA of 2.79.  His strikeout numbers were phenomenal, as the southpaw totaled 79 of them (10 K’s per nine innings).  It was clear after his rookie year, that Sale was not being used to his full potential, so to no one’s surprise in the spring of 2012 he was named to the rotation.  To say that the White Sox made the right call by making him a full-time starter is probably a huge understatement.  Sale dazzled opposing hitters last season by finishing up with a 17-8 record, a 3.05 ERA and 192 strikeouts.  He helped anchor a rejuvenated White Sox staff along with former Cy Young winner Jake Peavy and was also named to his first career all-star team.  Sale’s stellar season also earned him some recognition with voters for the American League’s top pitching honor, as he finished sixth in AL Cy Young voting.  Only four starting pitchers finished above the 23-year old in the voting: David Price, Justin Verlander, Jared Weaver and Felix Hernandez.  That’s not too bad for a guy in his first season as a major league starter.  This season, Sale has picked up right where he left off in 2012.  Through nine starts, the lefty sits at 5-2 with a 2.53 earned run average.  That 2.53 certainly looks good as we head into the month of June, but how about we look at it a little more closely.  Sale had a rough 4 1/3 innings outing on April 13 against Cleveland in which he allowed eight earned runs.  If you take away that start, he would be looking at an ERA of 1.51.  Sale also has only walked 15 batters in 64 innings—a rate of only 2.1 BB/9.  It is almost incredible to think about how much Chris Sale has already accomplished at such a young age.  At 24 years young, the future is looking bright for a kid that was just finishing up college ball less than three years ago.  He’s well on his way to another all-star appearance, and is under team control until 2019.  It is safe to say that when Chicago let their best pitcher in almost twenty years–Mark Buehrle–walk away after the 2011 season that they envisioned Chris Sale to take the reins and become the staff’s ace.  It appears that is exactly what he is doing–setting himself up for a long and successful career.

Tomorrow, we check in with the number six player on our list.

Top 10 White Sox draft picks from past 25 years

#10: Addison Reed

#9: James Baldwin

#8: Joe Crede

#7: Chris Sale

#6: MONDAY

#5: MONDAY

#4: TUESDAY

#3: TUESDAY

#2: WEDNESDAY

#1: THURSDAY (DRAFT DAY!)

White Sox Draft Countdown: Top 10 picks from past 25 years (#8)

The following player on our list was certainly a staple in the White Sox lineup for their “glory years” of the mid-2000s.  It is hard to measure exactly how much he brought to the table, for although his offensive numbers are some of the highest of any Chicago player during his playing time, it was this guy’s heart that really won fans over.

Without further adieu, here’s our first World Series champion to make the countdown…….

#8 Joe Crede: 1996 5th rd pick (137th overall)
joe_crede_05_world_seriesPerhaps one of  the biggest fan favorites over the past fifteen years to wear a White Sox uniform, Joe Crede manned the hot corner in the Windy City for almost a decade.  Drafted in the fifth round of the 1996 MLB Draft out of Fatima High School (MO), he spent five years in the minor leagues before finally getting the call up to the  big show on September 12, 2000.  Crede only played in seven games during his late September call up.  The third baseman would only total 70 games over the next two seasons, as he didn’t become the full-time starter until the 2003 campaign.  During that season, Crede would show off his power, as he hit 19 homers and drove in 75 runs.  In fact, his home run prowess was something White Sox fans would get used to during his time in Chicago.  From 2002-2008, Crede would launch 125 home runs.  Only Paul Konerko (214) and Jermaine Dye (137) would have more during that stretch.  Crede also ranks near the top of the list in producing runs in those seven seasons as well with his 412 RBI–he trails Konerko  (651) and A.J. Pierzynski (430).  During the magical 2005 season, Crede was a big contributor for the World Champions.  He posted 22 home runs and 62 RBI in the regular season, and really had a big part in helping the White Sox secure their first World Series title since 1917.  After getting only one hit in the ALDS, Crede stepped up big time in the ALCS against the Angels.  In 19 at bats, Crede went 7-19 (.368) with two homers and seven RBI.  One of the more memorable moments of the South Siders entire postseason run came during game 2, when Crede delivered a walk-off RBI single to bring the series even at one.  Crede’s success in the ALCS would carry over to the Fall Classic, as he would smack two more home runs and drive in three runs en route to a series sweep of the Houston Astros.  Following the 2005 championship season, Crede would then have his best statistical regular season in 2006–which incidentally was his last full season in Major League Baseball.  He would record career highs in home runs (30), RBI (94) and batting average (.283).  His stellar offensive performance would earn him his first—and only—Silver Slugger Award.  thAn injury-prone 2007 caused Crede to only play in 47 games, but he bounced back in 2008 to earn a spot on the American League all-star team.  Unfortunately, injuries would once again derail his season, as Crede would only play in 11 games following his appearance in the midsummer classic and miss out on the 2008 White Sox playoff run altogether.  He would then enter free agency following the 2008 season, and the White Sox would not resign him—ultimately ending his nine year White Sox career.  He would sign on with division rival Minnesota in 2009.  For the third staraight season, a nagging back injury would stand in the way of Crede playing a full season, but he still managed to hit .228 with 15 homers and 48 RBI.  That year would mark the final season Joe Crede would ever play in the Majors.  After taking a year off in 2010 to heal up, he was invited to spring training by the Colorado Rockies.  Crede never made it out their complex though, as he decided to retire in mid-February 2011.  Since his departure, the White Sox have yet to find Crede’s replacement, as no third baseman as logged more than 125 games.  It is near impossible to remember the 2000s White Sox–and especially that 2005 World Series team–without thinking of Joe Crede.  His bat helped cement a lineup that slugged its way to a championship that was 88 years in the making.  That alone will immortalize him for years to come in Chicago White Sox lore.

Tomorrow, we’ll check in with #7 on our countdown.

Top 10 White Sox draft picks from past 25 years

#10: Addison Reed

#9: James Baldwin

#8: Joe Crede

#7: TOMORROW

#6: MONDAY

#5: MONDAY

#4: TUESDAY

#3: TUESDAY

#2: WEDNESDAY

#1: THURSDAY (DRAFT DAY!)

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!)

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

With the 2013 MLB First-Year Player’s Draft only ten days away, we here at Voyagers Vision decided to count down the top ten Chicago White Sox draft picks in the past 25 years.  Now, there is some criteria that must be met here to be eligible for these rankings.  Obviously, the player must have been drafted by the Sox in the past 25 years (that eliminates guys like Paul Konerko and Magglio Ordonez).  He also must have actually played for Chicago (that means no Gio Gonzalez or Mike Lowell).  Starting today and continuing everyday up until June 6 (draft day), we’ll count down the top ten–but before we get to number ten–let’s take a look at the players who just missed out on the rankings.

Honorable Mentions:

Gordon Beckham (’08-1st rd.): .246 hitter with 49 HR and 217 RBI in 5 seasons with the White Sox….currently on the disabled list

Chad Bradford (’94-34th rd.): side-winding righty spent first 3 years in Chicago (4.13 ERA in 48 IP); lifetime 3.26 ERA in 12 seasons)

Daniel Hudson (’08-5th rd.): 2-2 in 9 games for White Sox…traded to ARI in ’10 for Edwin Jackson…. career: 28-17 and 3.68 ERA

Boone Logan (’02-20th rd.): pitched 144 games in 3 seasons for White Sox (5.87 ERA, 92 K)…currently has 1.84 ERA and 18 K in 14 2/3 innings for Yankees

Brandon McCarthy (’02, 17th rd.): 7-9, 4.39 in 65 games with White Sox from 2005-06…traded to Texas for John Danks…currently with Arizona (39-42 career record)

Jon Rauch (’99, 3rd rd.): 3-2 record in two seasons with White Sox…currently with Miami and is tallest player in MLB…62 saves and lifetime 3.90 ERA in 11 seasons (7.2 K/9)

Clayton Richard (’05, 8th rd.): 6-8 record in 1 1/2 seasons with White Sox….traded to Padres for Jake Peavy…44-47 and 4.31 ERA in 6-year MLB career

Now that we have the honorable mentions out of the way, it is time to start the drum roll for number ten on our list……..

#10 Addison Reed: 2010 3rd rd pick (95th overall)

thA familiar face to the Great Falls area, the current White Sox closer comes in at number ten on our list.  Addison Reed was drafted by the White Sox in the third round of the 2010 MLB draft out of San Diego State and quickly climbed up the organizational ladder—becoming the team’s fireman in 2012.  Reed began his professional career the summer of 2010 with the Voyagers and notched a 1.80 ERA in 30 IP over 13 games.  The following year, Reed would find himself soaring up the White Sox system, as he pitched for Kannapolis, Winston-Salem, Birmingham AND Charlotte–en route to making his debut at the ripe age of 22 on September 4, 2011 for Chicago.  Reed made six appearances in the final month of the season–allowing ten hits and three runs over 7 1/3 innings.  Last season, Reed saw his first full season of work, and he certainly made the most of it.  The righty converted 29 of his 33 save opportunities, which was good enough for 7th in the American League.  He totaled 54 strikeouts in 55 innings of work (8.8 K/9) and set the White Sox rookie record for saves in a season.  About a third of the way through the 2013 season, there has been no evidence of a sophomore slump for Reed, who is currently second in the AL and third in all of MLB with 17 saves in 23 appearances.  When it comes to American League saves, Reed only trails all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera, who has 18.  Currently, Reed is on pace for about 56 saves.  If he were to reach this number, he would total the third highest single season save total in MLB history and become the second White Sox pitcher ever to convert 43+ saves (Bobby Thigpen’s 57 in 1990).  Reed is also well on his way to recording the most saves by a White Sox closer since 2001–when Keith Foulke had 42.  At 24 years old, Addison Reed is primed to have a very successful career, which may see its first all-star appearance this summer.  We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves here, but let’s put Reed’s 46 career saves in perspective.  The aforementioned Mariano Rivera did not record the first of his 626 saves until he turned 26.  Just saying.

Our top ten rankings will continue tomorrow with #9 on the list.

Top 10 White Sox draft picks from past 25 years

#10: Addison Reed

#9: TOMORROW

#8: THURSDAY

#7: FRIDAY

#6: JUNE 3

#5: JUNE 3

#4: JUNE 4

#3: JUNE 4

#2: JUNE 5

#1: JUNE 6 (DRAFT DAY!)