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!)

3 Intimidators pitchers combine for no-no

images

AAA: Charlotte Knights

The Knights (25-36) fell to Pawtucket (35-24) last night by the score of 7-4.  The Knights would hold a 4-2 lead after the fourth inning, but they were unable to hold on thanks to a four-run top of the eighth by the Paw Sox.  Knights starter Charles Leesman recorded the no decision, as he went five innings and allowed three runs (two earned) while striking out four.  Jhan Martinez (2-3) was responsible for allowing all of Pawtucket’s runs in the eighth inning.  Martinez blew his third save of the season, allowing four earned on three hits in 2/3 of an inning.  2008 Dan Remenowsky would then come on to finish the ballgame, tossing 1 1/3 innings of scoreess ball.  Former Voyagers Jim Gallagher (2007) and Brent Morel (2008) would each pick up a hit a piece in the loss, and Gallagher would also score a run.  Charlotte and Pawtucket will play game three of their four-game set tonight at 5:05.  Simon Castro (1-6, 5.14) will get the nod for the Knights.

saf

AA: Birmingham Barons

Birmingham (37-21) and Huntsville (25-31) had their fourth game of their five-game series washed out due to rain last night.  The two teams will make the postponed game up in a doubleheader this afternoon.  Erik Johnson (5-2, 2.26) will be making the start for the Barons in game one.  First pitch is scheduled for 3:43.  Following today’s twin bill, the Barons will return to Regions Field for a ten-game home stand.

ws-dash-logo

High A: Winston-Salem Dash

It wasn’t a pretty sight for Winston-Salem (30-29) last night in Salem (26-31), as they were blanked by the Red Sox 8-0.  Salem pounced early thanks to a four-run first inning off of Dash starter Myles Jaye (3-1).  The righty fell for the first time since being called up from Kannapolis, as he allowed seven runs on nine hits over six innings of work.  2011 Voyagers hurler Jarrett Casey would then come on to finish the game.  He surrendered just one run in three innings of work.  The Dash could only muster two hits off of Red Sox pitching, with one of them coming off of the bat of 2011 Voyager Mark Haddow.  Winston-Salem will be back at it tonight at 5:05.  Chris Bassitt (5-2, 3.47) will take the ball for the Dash.

Kannaplis-Intimidators-logo1

 

Low A: Kannapolis Intimidators

It was a historic night for the Intimdators (21-36) on Wednesday, as three pitchers combined for a no-hitter in the second game of a doubleheader against Hagerstown (31-25).  Braulio Ortiz, Adam Lopez and 2012 Voyager Joe Dvorsky combined to throw seven hitless innings with seven strikeouts and four walks in the Intimdators 11-0 victory.  2012 Voyager Micah Johnson collected two hits and scored three runs to lead Kannapolis offensively.  Another member of the 2012 Voyagers, Michael Johnson, knocked in two runs in the winning effort.  The Intimidators were also winners in game one of the twin bill 6-2.  Jefferson Olacio (2-7) went the distance by tossing seven innings of two run ball (1 ER).  Micah Johnson scored twice in the win, and 2012 Voyagers catcher Mike Marjama knocked in two.  Kannapolis will close out their four-game set against the Suns tonight at 5:05.  Euclides Leyer (2-6, 4.95) will be making the start for the Intimidators.

Voyagers Alumni of the Night

Joe Dvorsky (2012)

1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H in 11-0 game two win over Hagerstown (1 of 3 pitchers to combine for 7 inning no-hitter)

Hawkins shines in Dash win, Knights come out on top

images

AAA: Charlotte Knights

The Knights (25-35) won the first game of their four-game set against Pawtucket (35-24) last night by the score of 5-1.  Andre Rienzo (5-3) won for the second straight start, as he scattered four hits over six scoreless innings and struck out seven.  The two teams swapped zeros in the first four frames, but then the Knights would score five runs in the next two innings to blow it wide open.  2008 Voyager Brent Morel scored a run in the Charlotte victory and picked up two hits in the process.  Another former Voyager, 2007 alumni Jim Gallagher, had a base knock as well and also scored.  These two squads will play the second game of this four-games set tonight at 5:05.  Charles Leesman (0-0, 0.00) will be making his third start of the season for Charlotte.  He has yet to allow a run in ten innings of work.

saf

AA: Birmingham Barons

The Barons (37-21) lost for the first time in five games last night, as they fell 5-1 to Huntsville (25-31).  2010 Voyagers hurler Spencer Arroyo (4-4) did not have his strongest outing in the loss, as he exited after 4 2/3 innings–allowing five runs on nine hits.  Ex-Voyager Kevin Vance (2011) would then come in to pitch for Birmingham and toss 2 1/3 scoreless frames while striking out two.  At the plate, 2011 Voyager Keenyn Walker collected two of the Barons three hits and drove in the team’s only run.  These two squads will play game three of their series tonight at 5:43.  2011 Voyager Erik Johnson (5-2, 2.26) will be on the mound for Birmingham, as he looks to win his fourth straight start.  Over that stretch, Johnson has only allowed four earned runs in 22 1/3 innings of work, and he has struck out 17.

ws-dash-logo

High A: Winston-Salem Dash

The bats certainly came out to play last night for Winston-Salem (30-28), as they smacked around Salem (25-31) for a 12-5 victory.  2012 White Sox first round draft pick Courtney Hawkins had a big day at the plate with his ninth and tenth home runs of the season.  Hawkins has now gone yard three times in the past two days.  2011 Voyagers outfielder Mark Haddow also had a nice showing at the dash, as he notched two doubles and scored three times.  Ex-Voyager Adam Heisler  (2011) also contributed with two runs batted in of his own and a run.  The Dash and Red Sox will play game four of this five-game tilt tonight at 5:05.  Myles Jaye (3-0, 4.07) will be making the start for Winston-Salem.  The righty will be making his fifth start for Winston-Salem since being called up from Kannapolis–where he had a 4-1 record in seven starts.

Kannaplis-Intimidators-logo1

Low A: Kannapolis Intimidators

The Intimidators (19-36) dropped the first game of their series against Hagerstown (31-23) last night by the score of 8-2.  Tony Bucciferro (0-1) got charged with the loss for Kannapolis, as he allowed five runs (3 ER) over 4 2/3 innings in his first outing of the year.  2012 Voyager Zach Isler came on in the fifth inning to allow three runs (one earned) in 2 1/3 frames.  Another member of last year’s Great Falls pitching staff, Ryan Bollinger, would close the game out by tossing a scoreless eighth. Former Voyagers catcher Mike Marjama (2012)  was one of the lone bright spots for the Intimidators, as he went 3-4 and drove in one of the team’s two runs.  Kannapolis and Hagerstown are scheduled to play a doubleheader today at 4:05.  Braulio Ortiz (0-1, 3.00) is slated to start game one, while Dixon Anderson (4-2, 2.50) will start game two.

Voyagers Alumni of the Night

ph_571732

Mark Haddow (2011)

3-5, 2 2B, 3 R, RBI in last night’s 12-5 win over Salem

 

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!)

Barons win tight one, Johnson an all-star

images

AAA: Charlotte Knights

The Knights (24-35) were unable to take their four-game series from Rochester (26-32), as they fell 9-1.  Charlotte starter Zach Stewart (3-7) was hit early and often.  Over five innings of work, he allowed six runs on eight hits–which included a three-run first.  Neither Voyagers alumni in the Knights lineup were able to muster a hit off of Red Wing pitching, as Jim Gallagher (2007) and Brent Morel (2008) combined to go 0-7 with four strikeouts.  Charlotte’s only run of the game came in the bottom half of the second inning when first baseman Mike McDade went deep for the third time this season.  The Knights will hit the road tonight and begin an eight-game road trip.  They’ll kick off a four-game set against Pawtucket, with first pitch scheduled for 5:05.  Andre Rienzo (4-3, 6.71) will get the nod for Charlotte.  The righty has not lost a start since an April 26 outing against Norfolk.

saf

AA: Birmingham Barons

The Barons (37-20) won for the fifth time in six games last night with a tight 9-8 victory over Huntsville (24-31).  Stpehen McCray (6-3), who pitched for the Voyagers in 2010 and 2011, picked up the win after allowing three earned runs over five innings of work.  Despite falling behind 3-0 in the bottom of the second, Birmingham would plate eight runs over the next three innings to take command of the game.  Ex-Voyager Trayce Thompson (2009) did some damage at the dish, as he went 2-4 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored.  The right fielder also walked two times.  2010 Voyagers Andy Wilkins would also contribute with an RBI, and he’d come across to score twice.  2009 Voyager Taylor Thompson did get into some trouble in the bottom of the ninth, as he attempted to slam the door.  Entering the frame with a 9-6 advantage, the Barons closer went on to allow two earned runs in his second inning of work, but he would hold on to record his eighth save of the year.  Birmingham and Huntsville will be back at it tonight at 5:43.  2010 Voyager Spencer Arroyo (4-3, 2.73) will be making the start for the Barons.

ws-dash-logo

High A: Winston-Salem Dash

The Dash (29-28) began their road series against Salem (25-30) last night on a sour note, as they dropped both games of a doubleheader 5-4 and 6-3.  After four innings of play in game one, Winston-Salem trailed 5-0.  They would attempt to make a come back thanks to four runs in the top of the fifth, but that would be all they would get.  Freshly called up from Kannapolis, Jake Cose (0-1) would lose his first ever AA start.  The righty allowed five runs (four earned) in five innings of work.  Game two also saw Winston-Salem would fall behind early–this time by the score of 3-0.  The Dash eventually tied it up in the top of the fifth—only to allow two runs in the bottom frame.  Dash starter Jason Van Skike would only last three innings, allowing three runs (two earned), but he would not be charged for the loss.  Offensively, 2012 White Sox first round pick Courtney Hawkins blasted his eighth homer of the season in the losing effort.  The dinger marked the first time Hawkins had gone yard since suffering an injury that kept him off the diamond for over a month.  Chris Curley would also go deep for Winston-Salem.  These two squads will play game two of their series tonight at 5:05.  Bryan Blough (2-4, 5.43) will be making the start for the Dash.

Kannaplis-Intimidators-logo1

Low A: Kannapolis Intimidators

The Intimidators (19-35) were the only White Sox affiliate to have the night off last night.  They head to Hagerstown today to begin a four-game series against the Suns.  First pitch is scheduled for 5:05.  It was announced earlier today, that current Kannapolis second baseman and 2012 Voyager, Micah Johnson, has been named to the 2013 South Atlantic League All-Star Team.  Johnson currently ranks eighth in the league in hitting with a .320 batting average, and his 47 stolen bases are the most of any player in not just the league, but all of Minor League Baseball.  He has certainly been on a tear as of late, as he his hitting over .400 in his past ten games with three homers and nine runs batted in.  The All-Star Game will take place on June 28 in Lakewood.  Johnson’s teammate, Jason Coats will also be joining him in the starting lineup for the Northern Division

Voyagers Alumni of the Night

Stephen McCray (2010-11)

5.0 IP, 3 ER, 9 H, 5 K, 0 BB in last night’s 9-8 win over Huntsville

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!)

CWS Farm Report 6/3: Weekend Recap

images

AAA: Charlotte Knights

The Knights (24-34) had a strong start to their weekend–winning two straight–but then fell yesterday for the first time since last Thursday.  On Friday, a rehabbing White Sox midfielder played hero, as Gordon Beckham drove in the game’s winning run in a 3-2 victory over Rochester (25-32).  Beckham’s walk-off RBI single marked the third time this season that Charlotte won in their final at bat.  2007 Voyager Jim Gallagher had a productive night at the plate, as he went 2-3 with a double and a run scored.  On Saturday, we saw the Knights win for the third straight day thanks to a strong pitching performance by Simon Castro (1-6).  The righty tossed five scoreless innings and allowed only two hits en route to Charlotte’s 4-3 win.  The Knights would strike early and never look back–scoring all four of their runs in the first two innings.  Gallagher would once again contribute from the dish, as he would double and score a run.  Ex-Voyager Brent Morel (2008) would also get involved in the action with an RBI ground out in the bottom half of the first.  Yesterday afternoon, we’d see Charlotte lose a close contest to the Red Wings by the score of 6-5.  Morel would belt his 16th and 17th doubles of the season despite the loss, as he finished the day at 2-4.  On the mound, Jason Berken (4-5) only lasted four innings–allowing four runs on seven hits.  2008 Voyager Dan Remenowsky would then come on in relief to allow two more runs in only one inning of work.  Charlotte and Rochester will close out their four-game set tonight at 5:15.  Zach Stewart (3-6, 4.80) will be on the mound for the Knights.

saf

AA: Birmingham Barons

After dropping two of three, the Barons (36-20) were back to their winning ways this past weekend with victories on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  It was quite the start for 2011 Voyager Erik Johnson (5-2) on Friday night, as he tossed his first complete game of the season in Birmingham’s 11-3 win over Tennessee (28-26).  The righty lowered his season ERA to 2.26 and struck out six batters in his third win in as many starts.  Ex-Voyager Andy Wilkins (2010) would connect for the sixth time this season, as he blasted a two-run homer in the sixth inning.  The Barons designated hitter would collect a total of 3 RBI on the night.  2010 Voyagers backstop Mike Blanke would also join the hit party with an RBI of his own.  On Saturday, Birmingham got another stellar outing from a former Voyager, as they took the final game of the five-game series 9-3.  Scott Snodgress (7-3) would stifle Smokies hitters over six innings–allowing only two runs on four hits.  2010 and 2011 Voyagers outfielder Michael Earley collected two hits (one double) in the Barons win and scored a run.  After extending their division lead to 6 1/2 games over second place Tennessee, Birmingham would make it an even seven with a 5-1 win in their series opener over Huntsville (24-30) yesterday.  In the top half of the seventh inning with the game in favor of the Barons 2-1, Wilkins would blow it wide open with a three-run homer with two outs.  Nick McCully (5-1) would pick up his third straight win, as he allowed only one run over five innings of work.  Two former Voyagers from the 2011 team, Kevin Vance and Salvador Sanchez, then combined for two scoreless innings to each pick up holds.  The Barons and the Stars will be back at it tonight at 5:43.  2010 and 2011 Voyager Stephen McCray (5-3, 3.31) will get the nod for Birmingham.

ws-dash-logo

High A: Winston-Salem Dash

Winston-Salem (29-26) also came away with three wins this past weekend, as they swept the Carolina Mudcats (19-36).  2011 Voyagers outfielder Mark Haddow would collect two hits in the Dash victory and score a run and starter Myle Jaye (3-0) won for the third time in four starts since being called up from Kannapoilis, as he tossed seven innings and allowed only three runs en route to an 8-3 victory.  2011 Voyager Cody Winiarski would then come on to pick up a two-inning save in a scoreless effort.  Game two saw a tight battle between Carolina and Winston-Salem, which resulted in a 3-2 Dash win.  Starter Chris Bassitt allowed one unearned run over seven innings of work, but he would not get credit for the win since the Mudcats tied the game in the top half of the eighth.  Despite allowing the game’s tying run, 2012 Voyager Brandon Hardin would escape with the victory thanks to some clutch hitting by Jeremy Farrell.  The third baseman would belt a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the inning to give his squad the lead for good.  Sunday afternoon, the bats were clicking on all cylinders for Winston-Salem, as they capped off a series sweep with a 15-6 blowout win.  2012 Voyager Christopher Beck (5-6) picked up the win after allowing four runs over six innings.  The Dash’s Grant Buckner had a monster day at the plate, as he launched two homers and drove in a season-high seven runs.  In his first day off the disabled list, 2012 first round draft pick Courtney Hawkins would also get involved in the action, as he picked up his first RBI since May 1.  The Dash will now head to Salem for a five-game series against the Red Sox.  The two teams will take part in a doubleheader this evening at 3:30, as they will be making up a rain-out from May 22.  Jake Cose (0-0, —) will be making his first start for the Dash since being called up from Kannapolis.  For the Intimidators, Cose recorded a 4-3 record to go along with a 1.72 ERA.  Jason Van Skike (2-1, 1.71) is expected to get the nod for game two.

Kannaplis-Intimidators-logo1

Low A: Kannapolis Intimidators

The Intimidators (19-35) were unable to pick up a win over Savannah (34-22) this past weekend, as they were swept away by the Sand Gnats.  On Friday, Kannapolis would fall 6-2 and Euclides Leyer (2-6) got roughed up for six runs (five ER) and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings of work.  2011 Stew Brase then would finish out the game with 2 1/3 scoreless frames to help alleviate the damage.  2012 Voyagers catcher Brent Tanner would pick up an RBI despite the Intimidators loss.  On Saturday, Kannapolis would fail to score a single run in their 5-0 loss.  2012 Voyager Brandon Brennan (1-9) did last eight innings and only allowed three earned runs, but the Intimidators offense could only muster five hits off of Sand Gnats pitching.  Kannapolis would once again be thwarted by Savannah yesterday afternoon, as they fell 7-1.  2012 Voyager Kyle Hansen (1-2) would get hosed in only four innings of work–allowing five runs (three earned).  Another member from the 2012 Great Falls staff, Ryan Bollinger, then came on in for three innings of relief and allowed two more runs on four hits.  2012 Voyagers backstop Mike Marjama would pick up a hit in the losing effort.  The scorching bat of 2012 Voyager second baseman Micah Johnson finally cooled off this past weekend.  He only collected one hit in twelve at bats after a stretch of going 14-25 from the dish.  The Intimidators have the day off today and then will head up to Hagerstown to start a four-game set with the Suns tomorrow night at 5:05.

Voyagers Alumni of the Night

ph_605304

Erik Johnson (2011)

9.0 IP, 3 ER, 10 H, 6 K, 0 BB (W) in Friday’s 11-3 win over Tennessee