Now that the 2018 MLB Draft is less than 12 hours away, the buzz is increasing over who the White Sox will select with the fourth overall pick. Two of the most common names being tossed around are Brady Singer and Nick Madrigal. However, in this article, I don’t want to predict the future since we already did that in our draft preview. Instead, I want to go back and look at who the White Sox selected in the first round from the 2000s to today. Obviously, while some have turned into everyday players at the Major League level, not everyone has panned out as expected. So, let’s start with 2017 and take a look back at the first round picks from each season.
2017 – Jake Burger – 11th Pick
This is a guy every fan reading this article knows and loves. Unfortunately, Jake suffered a ruptured Achilles and after having surgery to repair it, tore it a second time. He is currently on the DL and will likely be out for another year. Don’t give up on him by any means, though, because he is a fighter and will do everything he can to get back on the field and make up for lost time.
2016 – Zack Collins – 10th Pick
The White Sox top catching prospect has been climbing the ladder ever since being drafted. Ranked No. 9 in the organization by MLB Pipeline, Collins spent parts of the 2016 and 2017 seasons with the Winston-Salem Dash before receiving his first promotion within the organization last August. He was sent to Double-A Birmingham and that’s where he is now. Collins is currently batting .277 with 8 bombs, 29 RBIs, and a Southern League leading 52 walks this season. Right now, it appears that we could see Collins on the South Side at some point in 2019 so he’s right where he should be in terms of development.
2016 – Zack Burdi – 26th Pick
Shortly after being drafted, the flamethrower was assigned to the Arizona Rookie League on June 20, 2016. Four days later, Burdi was off to Winston-Salem. Then, he was in Birmingham by the first week in July and Charlotte by August 2016. Unfortunately, Burdi’s quick progress was halted last July when he injured his arm and underwent Tommy John surgery. He is still expected to miss much of 2018 but figures to be a key piece of the future White Sox bullpen. If fully healthy, be on the lookout for Burdi to make his Major League debut next season.
2015 – Carson Fulmer – 8th Pick
Ah, yes. We have reached the one and only Carson Fulmer. There’s not much I can tell you here that you don’t already know. Carson’s gone through his struggles this season and is currently down in Charlotte working on a few things. It’s hard to tell how long he’ll be down there but I think it’s safe to bet that he’ll be back in the Majors later this season. With a starting rotation that is about to see the additions of Carlos Rodon and Michael Kopech, it’s looking more and more likely that we’ll see Fulmer serve in a bullpen role. We could also still see him make a few spot starts here and there, you never know.
2014 – Carlos Rodon – 3rd Pick
Carlos Rodon’s had his fair share of injuries over the years but we’ve seen what he can do when he’s healthy. The lefty is at the end of his rehab with Triple-A Charlotte and will likely make his first start of the season this weekend in Boston. As long as he can stay healthy, it seems that Rodon will be the leader in what is likely to be a powerful rotation for years to come.
2013 – Tim Anderson – 17th Pick
I can’t talk about Timmy without featuring a fire shot captured by photographer Chris Tejeda (@FotoGenocide_). TA7 has been your White Sox starting shortstop since 2016, as I hope you would know. If for some reason you’re just realizing this now, then that means you’re probably a Cubs fan who has been showing up with the wrong attire to the wrong games. Tim went through his personal struggles last season but he’s brought nothing but energy to get the team fired up in 2018. Hopefully he can keep on improving both offensively and defensively throughout the rest of this season and future seasons because he’s a fun dude to watch.
2012 – Courtney Hawkins – 13th Pick
Now we’re getting to that special part of the list. This is where we start to see some of the first round guys who didn’t pan out and Courtney Hawkins is your prime example of that. The outfielder played 568 games in his Minor League career but was never able to crack Double-A. After being released by the Sox this spring, he landed with the Sugar Land Skeeters. This is an independent league team so the Skeeters are not affiliated with any Major League ball club. Hawkins is still only 24 years old so if he plays well enough, he might be able to sign with another organization and try to work his way up, though it will be difficult. At least we’ll always be able to remember him for his iconic backflip in MLB Network’s Studio 42 moments after being drafted.
2012 – Keon Barnum – 48th Pick
Unlike Courtney Hawkins, the other 2012 first rounder is actually still in the White Sox organization. Keon Barnum is currently a first-baseman for the Birmingham Barons. The lefty was drafted because of his power but injuries have really slowed him down. He’s spent most of his time split between Winston-Salem and Birmingham with less than impressive numbers. In 115 at bats this year, Barnum has just 20 hits. Along with his low batting average and on-base percentage, he owns a very high strikeout rate (44% in 2018). It’s a shame that he was never able to pan out as hoped but that’s just part of the game. You win some picks and you lose some.
2011 – Keenyn Walker – 47th Pick
From 2011-2016, Keenyn Walker bounced around between affiliates in the White Sox minor league system. He was often moved back and forth between Winston-Salem and Birmingham before he finally parted ways with the organization two years ago. Since then, he’s been competing in the independent league. In 2017, he played centerfield for the Windy City ThunderBolts and now he’s with the Lancaster Barnstormers playing left and right field on occasion.
2010 – Chris Sale – 13th Pick
Dominant. Filthy. Lights out. You get the picture. I’m sure you can agree with me when I say this is, hands down, the best White Sox draft pick of the 21st century. You knew every time he took the mound that you would get to watch something special. And the White Sox took advantage of that special talent by trading him to the Red Sox in 2016 to officially begin the rebuild process. Oh and in case you haven’t been paying attention, Chris Sale is still just as nasty in Boston as he was on the South Side. But we’ve got Moncada and Kopech now so we should be just fine.
2009 – Jared Mitchell – 23rd Pick
Scouts described him as a dangerous hitter with quick speed. Mitchell had a lot of potential like all of the other players mentioned so far, but after an ankle injury in 2010, he was inconsistent the rest of his career. He did show flashes of what could’ve been but was ultimately released by the Sox in 2015. Funny enough, he was replaced on the Charlotte Knights roster by Cubs former first rounder, Tyler Colvin. Mitchell went on to play baseball for the York Revolution, an independent league team, and spent time in the minors for the Angels, Yankees, and Reds. Today, he’s back with the Revolution, who actually play Keenyn Walker’s Barnstormers and Courtney Hawkins’ Skeeters. Since the Revolution and Barnstormers play close to me, you might be lucky enough to find updates from one of these exciting match-ups on Sox On 35th sometime this summer. Stay tuned!
2009 – Josh Phegley – 38th Pick
I really don’t know what to say here as a reflection for Phegley’s time on the South Side. I can’t really remember anything special he did since he didn’t do much. He dealt with some injuries in 2011 and played in close to 80 games in his Sox career. Honestly, if anyone can think of anything notable he did, just put it in the comments or tweet it at me because I’m drawing a blank. Phegley was traded to the Oakland Athletics as part of the Jeff Samardzija deal. He’s just a backup catcher who’s “eh” so that’s all you need to know. Since I’ve really got nothing else to add here, let’s keep the ball rolling.
2008 – Gordon Beckham – 8th Pick
It’s time to cue up “Your Love” by The Outfield, folks! As I write this piece with the song blasting in the background, you just gotta love the Gordon Beckham era of White Sox baseball. He might not have been the greatest player but he provided us with a lot of memorable moments. Whether it be the walk-off vs. the Cubs or the dropped fly ball collision with Conor Gillaspie, Gordon Beckham left his mark on the organization and fan base. And guess what, somehow he’s still going at it with the Seattle Mariners. He spent some time with them at the Major League level this season before being sent back down to their Triple-A affiliate where, get this… he’s hitting .298 in 26 games. Unfortunately, like during his time with the Sox, he hasn’t been able to bring that type of consistent offense to the Major League level. I can’t comment on his childlike qualities but according to Hawk, that could be another contributing issue to his struggles. Unfortunate.
2007 – Aaron Poreda – 25th Pick
This was a guy I was excited about as a kid because I thought he was going to be the next great pitcher for the Sox. He was hailed as having one of the best lefty fastballs out there at the time. Poreda did put together close to a dozen solid relief appearances for the club before he was shipped off to San Diego in the Jake Peavy trade. While I hated to see him go, Poreda ended up struggling with the Padres and eventually needed Tommy John surgery. He did make it back to the Majors with the Rangers for a short time before heading to Japan to play for the Yomiuri Giants. The last update I could find online was that he was released late in 2016 by Yomiuri after being plagued by more injuries.
2006 – Kyle McCulloch – 29th Pick
I hope you appreciate this picture of Kyle McCulloch’s baseball card because it’s one of the few pictures of him available on the internet. McCulloch is another one of those guys who spent his career in the minors and just was never able to crack into the Majors. He slowly rose through the organization and reached Triple-A before joining the Reds’ Triple-A squad in 2011. After his playing days, he became a Sales Executive at Southwest Precision Printers and is now an Associate at Stream Realty Partners. That’s a nice reminder for everyone to always have a backup plan in case things don’t work out with your first career option.
2005 – Lance Broadway – 15th Pick
Good ol’ Lance Broadway. A bullpen arm that made a handful of appearances from 2007-2009, and I think maybe even one or two starts. He pitched a lights out 10.1 innings in 2007 but things took a turn for the worse afterwards. That’s fine for Lance because like McCulloch, he had a backup plan: acting. In 2013, he made his debut in Olympus Has Fallen, so good for him I guess.
2004 – Josh Fields – 18th Pick
Let’s goooo! Josh Fields is another guy like Gordon Beckham who didn’t really have it offensively but he provided some memorable moments. For example, he hit a home run AND caught the final out of Mark Buehrle’s perfecto. We’ll always have that photo above of him giving Mark the big hug afterwards. Also, his first full season in the bigs when he hit 23 bombs was enjoyable, right? Unfortunately, like many of the first rounders before him, Fields had some injuries and was eventually replaced at third by Gordon Beckham in 2009. I’m sorry if this is bringing back any nightmares so please blame the players not the messenger.
2004 – Tyler Lumsden – 34th Pick
Tyler pitched in Winston-Salem for a season before he needed elbow surgery. After putting up some impressive stats in Birmingham during 2006, he was traded to the Royals with Daniel Cortes for Mike MacDougal. He was later DFA’d by Kansas City in 2008, and wound up in the Astros farm system until 2010.
2004 – Gio Gonzalez – 38th Pick
If you haven’t noticed, we’re at that point in the article where the only available pictures of some guys in a Sox uniform can be found on a baseball card. Gio has turned out to be a very solid, quality pitcher thoughout his career. He’s played for the Athletics and is currently on the Nationals. He’s also been named an All-Star twice and has been in the running for Cy Young. But before that, he was with the Sox. He was originally traded to Philly in the Thome deal but came back with Gavin Floyd for Freddy Garcia. The White Sox then sent him over to Oakland in 2008 in the infamous Nick Swisher deal. Too bad we never got to see what Gio could do at the Major League level on the South Side.
2003 – Brian Anderson – 15th Pick
The man made famous from 2005 highlights of him and Rowand hugging after Paulie’s grand slam. Brian Anderson manned centerfield for the Sox after Rowand, himself, was traded to Philly. Anderson was great with the glove but had some offensive issues. After struggles and injuries, he served more in a backup role later in his time with the Sox. I can’t forget to mention the diving catch to end the Blackout Game because that’s one of my favorite defensive moments from him. Anderson was eventually traded to the Red Sox for Mark Kotsay in 2009 and then tried transitioning to a pitcher for the Royals that offseason. He then found himself bouncing around the league before winding back up with the Sox in 2015 for one last go as a position player. Things didn’t work out and he was released.
2002 – Royce Ring – 18th Pick
Royce didn’t last long with the Sox. He was with the organization until 2003 before being traded to the Mets. He pitched for 5 seasons in the Majors, and finished with a 5.29 ERA in 68.0 IP.
2001 – Kris Honel – 16th Pick
Kris Honel was great in Single-A during 2002, earning the South Atlantic League All-Star right-handed pitcher award. In 2003, he had a 3.11 ERA with 122 strikeouts for Winston-Salem. Then, things went south as he began battling injuries that derailed his career. He was never really the same afterwards as his ERA often hovered around 5.75, resulting in him leaving the organization for the Cardinals.
2001 – Wyatt Allen – 39th Pick
Another minor league arm for the Sox. Allen never played in the Majors and spent 2001-2006 in the Minor League systems of the Sox and Pirates. He owns a career 4.33 ERA in 443.0 IP with 319 Ks and 225 walks.
2000 – Joe Borchard – 12th Pick
Last but not least, the first White Sox first rounder of the 21st century was none other than outfielder, Joe Borchard. Like many guys, Borchard struggled with making contact and the results showed. In 114 games for the Sox, he hit .230 with 10 home runs and 28 RBIs. He later went on to play for the Mariners and Marlins, where he last appeared in a Major League game in 2007. He did still play in the minors for the Braves, and Giants before signing with an independent baseball team called the Bridgeport Bluefish. Joe officially retired from baseball on June 2, 2011.
And there you have it, Sox fans. Those are all of the White Sox first round draft picks from 2000 onwards. Let’s hope that whoever the Sox decide to choose in the 2018 MLB Draft can have a long, healthy, and successful Major League career on the South Side of Chicago.