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2021 MLB Draft Preview: Who Will the White Sox Select at No. 22?

by Jordan Lazowski

Most years, it’s the “June First-Year Player Draft.” This year, for the first time, the draft will take place during the All-Star break, starting on July 11th.

The White Sox will have the 22nd pick in the first round of the draft. The entire draft order can be seen below:

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In the past, the White Sox have gone very college-heavy, having not picked a prep player in the first round since Courtney Hawkins back in 2012. However, from all reports, it appears that the Sox are willing to divert from their college-only first-round strategy in this year’s draft. This draft is an important start for the organization in rebuilding some of their prospect capital after graduating many top prospects and seeing their farm system rank in the bottom five at current.

Who are some of the names you should be familiar with heading into Draft Day when the White Sox’ number is called? We’ve outlined them for you below.

Colson Montgomery, SS, Southridge HS

Age: 19 | Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 190 | B/T: L/R

Committed: Indiana

MLB Pipeline Grades Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

Colson Montgomery is a 6’4″ 200-pound shortstop from Indiana (Southridge HS). He’s committed to Indiana University as both a baseball and basketball recruit – however, he will remain in baseball. He has a smooth left-handed swing and has been compared to where Corey Seager was at this age in terms of development. According to those familiar with the Draft Combine from a few weeks ago, Montgomery’s data was incredibly impressive for a kid his size. There has been some concern about his ability to hit better quality pitching, as he has played baseball in the Midwest throughout his life.

MLB Pipeline ranks him as the 25th best prospect in this year’s class, saying the following:

“Montgomery has a good left-handed swing that should allow him to hit for average and power. He’s most effective when he uses the entire field rather than trying to pull pitches out of the park, and his approach got more consistent throughout the summer. His frame resembles Corey Seager’s at the same stage of their careers and he has the strength and bat speed to develop similar pop. 

Though he plays shortstop in high school, Montgomery has fringy speed and figures to outgrow the position once he fills out his 6-foot-4 frame. He moves well for his size and should become at least an average defender with a solid arm at the hot corner. If he attends college at Indiana, he’ll be eligible for the 2023 Draft.”

In many ways, Montgomery is the type of player the White Sox should target – a multi-sport athlete with the ability and athleticism to play up the middle. It’s the type of player that the organization is lacking. Mock drafts are split on where he will be drafted (as high as 10th to the Mets in some cases). He is an older prep player – almost 20 years old – which might deter some teams and allow him to fall to the Sox.

All that being said, one thing is pretty clear in the industry: if Montgomery is available, the White Sox are likely to take him.

Draft Rankings:

  • MLB Pipeline: 25th 
  • Baseball America: 43rd
  • FanGraphs: 45th
  • Keith Law (The Athletic): 84th 

Wes Kath, 3B, Desert Mountain HS

Age: 18  |  Height: 6’3″  |  Weight: 200  |  B/T: L/R

Committed: Arizona State

MLB Pipeline Grades – Hit: 55  |  Power: 45  |  Run: 45  |  Arm: 60  |  Field: 50  |  Overall: 50

Wes Kath, much like Montgomery, is a big, high school shortstop. He is committed to Arizona State University with an “old-school” ballplayer feel to him. He doesn’t wear batting gloves and has a smooth left-handed swing that currently is more suited for doubles. However, scouts believe he is going to grow into his home run power with age. He is a below-average runner, but scouts believe he has the ability to stick at SS at the higher levels, though there is more concern about him moving to 3B than there is with Montgomery.

Kath is MLB Pipeline’s 34th ranked prospect in this year’s draft. Here’s what they have to say about him:

“Kath became a bit of a sleeper favorite among scouts because of his abilities from the left side of the plate. He showed the ability to impact the baseball repeatedly at a number of events against very good competition. There have been times in the past where he’s been more of a defensive hitter, but he attacked the ball more this summer and there’s size and strength to hope for more power if he can continue to be aggressive at the plate. 

While Kath plays shortstop in high school, most see a move to third base at the next level. He has good hands and a plus arm, but he tends to need to set and throw to be accurate and will likely lack the range to play up the middle as he matures. He does have the chance to be an excellent third baseman, with some seeing the Arizona State recruit as a slightly more athletic version of Red Sox prospect Triston Casas, perhaps with a bit less power.”

According to reports, Kath is also high on the White Sox’ draft board. If Montgomery is not available and the White Sox are still choosing to go the prep route, it appears that they are highly considering Kath as well. Though I don’t like his swing as much as I like Mongtomery’s, I think anyone in the industry will tell you the Sox would be thrilled to get Katz here.

Draft Rankings:

  • MLB Pipeline: 34th
  • Baseball America: 54th
  • FanGraphs: 26th
  • Keith Law (The Athletic): 78th 

Peyton Stovall, 2B, Haughton HS 

Age: 18  |  Height: 6’0″  |  Weight: 180  |  B/T: L/R

Committed: Arkansas

MLB Pipeline Grades – Hit: 60  |  Power: 50  |  Run: 45  |  Arm: 45  |  Field: 50  |  Overall: 50

Peyton Stovall is a 6’0″, 180-pound commit to the University of Arkansas. Though he was a SS in high school, he is likely to play 2B at the next level due to a below-average arm and speed, as well as some questions regarding his range on defense. Overall, Stovall has one of my favorite swings in the draft, and he is someone whose appeal is clearly his hit tool.

MLB Pipeline ranks Stovall 29th this year, saying the following:

Stovall excels at barreling balls with his sweet left-handed stroke and makes hard contact to all fields. He consistently puts together quality at-bats and doesn’t try to do too much, displaying natural ability to lift balls to his pull side as well as some opposite-field pop. He has the bat speed and strength to produce 20 or more homers per season, and he’s such a gifted hitter that his biggest proponents believe he may develop plus power. 

A high school shortstop, Stovall doesn’t have the quickness or range to play there at the next level, whether that be collegiately at Arkansas or in pro ball. He’s a fringy runner with a thick lower half who might slow a bit more as he continues to mature physically, and the hope is that he’ll be able to handle second base. His speed and subpar arm limit his defensive options, with left field his fallback position.” 

The industry believes that a team is going to see his sweet left-handed swing and clear hit tool and pull the trigger on him in the first round. Overall, though, Stovall appears to be more of a second-round talent than a first-round one because of the lack of clarity surrounding his future position. If the White Sox picked him here, it would likely mean some of their preferred options had already been taken off the draft board.

Draft Rankings:

  • MLB Pipeline: 29th
  • Baseball America: 33rd
  • FanGraphs: 61st
  • Keith Law (The Athletic): 71st

Max Muncy, SS, Thousand Oaks HS

Age: 18  |  Height: 6’1″  |  Weight: 180  |  B/T: R/R

Committed: Arkansas

MLB Pipeline Grades – Hit: 50  |  Power: 55  |  Run: 50  |  Arm: 50  |  Field: 50  |  Overall: 50

Max Muncy is another University of Arkansas commit who plays up the middle. He answered some lingering questions about his swing and plate discipline this year, hitting well with wood bats and slashing .485/.585/.909 in high school. According to scouts, he projects to be an average defensive shortstop with a pretty mature approach at the plate. There is potential, however, that Muncy quite literally outgrows his position at SS and moves to 3B. However, scouts haven’t shown much doubt about his abilities to handle the position long-term.

MLB Pipeline ranks Muncy 38th, saying:

“Muncy, not related to the big leaguer of the same name, is a high-energy player who gets high marks for his desire to constantly work to get better. Muncy has the chance to be an average hitter with perhaps above-average power when all is said and done. He has the ability to use that power to all fields. He can get too big and his overall approach still needs work, leading to some swing and miss, but the future impact is definitely there.

An average runner with a solid arm, Muncy would undoubtedly head out as a shortstop and would play there for Arkansas should he go on to college, but he could end up sliding over to third or second eventually. Those who believe in him might see a Dansby Swanson type, with a bit more power and a touch less hitability, with an offensive ceiling of someone like Ian Kinsler.”

Personally, I’m a big fan of Muncy’s swing. I think that, based on reports, he is the most likely to stick at the shortstop position long-term (other than Montgomery). Scouts have praised his approach at the plate, and if Montgomery is not available for the White Sox, I believe Muncy could very well be the pick. The only concern: he is a Scott Boras client, which may interfere with the White Sox’ other plans with their draft pool money. However, Kiley McDaniel of ESPN still projects Muncy to the Sox in his latest mock draft, so it does not appear that the Boras relationship is a detractor by any means.

Draft Rankings:

  • MLB Pipeline: 38th
  • Baseball America: 43rd
  • FanGraphs: 38th
  • Keith Law (The Athletic): Not Ranked

Ty Madden, RHP, Texas

Age: 21   |   Height: 6’3″  |   Weight: 215  |   B/T: R/R

Previously Drafted: 2018, 34th (1022) – Kansas City Royals

MLB Pipeline Grades – Fastball: 60  |  Slider: 60  |  Curveball: 50  |  Changeup: 55  |  Control: 55  |  Overall: 55

For the first time, we move away from the prep middle infielders – though, it’s clear based on the above that the White Sox are strongly considering going prep. Ty Madden is a frontline starter for the University of Texas who was drafted out of high school back in 2018. He wisely bet on himself and finds himself at the top of most teams’ draft boards.

At 6’3″, 215 pounds, Madden is your typical southern starting pitcher. He has a fastball that touches the mid-to-upper 90s with (as you can see below) a plus slider to give him two very strong pitches. His curveball and changeup are both improving and offer the ability for him to develop into a true four-pitch pitcher.

There are two main concerns for Madden at current: his ability to command the zone at the next level, and the lack of elite movement on his fastball. His fastball plays better down in the zone despite flashing 99 mph at times.

MLB Pipeline ranks Madden 9th and says the following:

Madden topped out at 95 mph in high school and now operates at 93-96 with sink and bore on his fastball after reaching 99 mph during the fall. His best offering at Cypress Ranch was his slider, which has gained velocity and arrives in the mid-80s with late bite. His fading low-80s changeup gives him a solid third offering and he also can mix in an upper-70s curveball with depth but less consistency than his slider. 

Madden added 35 pounds to his 6-foot-3 frame in college and the extra strength has helped him not only to improve his pitches but also to repeat his sound delivery more consistently. He walked just four batters in four starts last spring and scouts love the way he attacks hitters. He has the ingredients to become a frontline starter.”

Truthfully, it’s a bit of a long shot that Madden falls to the White Sox. However, with how things might shape up over the course of the next day and a half, there’s always the possibility that teams’ draft boards shift and the White Sox find themselves with a consensus top 20 draft prospect and potential frontline starter at #22.

Draft Rankings:

  • MLB Pipeline: 9th
  • Baseball America: 12th
  • FanGraphs: 12th
  • Keith Law (The Athletic): 23rd

Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina

Age: 21  |  Height: 6’6″  |  Weight: 238  |  B/T: L/R

Previously Drafted: 2017, 30th (889) – Tampa Bay Rays

MLB Pipeline Grades – Fastball: 70  |  Curveball: 55  |  Slider: 50  |  Changeup: 55  |  Control: 50  |  Overall: 50

The Rays were onto something when they drafted Williams in the 30th round out of high school a few years ago. Now 6’6″ and 238 pounds, the big right-hander finds himself at the top of this draft class. Scouts believed that 2020 would be his breakout season, however, he broke his finger and missed the COVID-shortened season.

Williams has a solid three-pitch mix with a short arm path that creates deception. He had himself a great year at East Carolina, making 12 starts and finishing with a 1.88 ERA. The highlight of his season was likely dueling against Kumar Rocker of Vanderbilt in their super-regional matchup. That being said, Williams does not have a ton of starting experience for scouts to project off of.

MLB Pipeline ranks Williams 31st and has this to say about him:

“A potential first-round pick, Williams still offers plenty of fastball velocity and can approach triple digits while holding 94-97 mph for several innings as a starter. His upper-70s curveball suddenly has more power and more consistent shape with some eye-popping metrics, and his previously lackluster slider is now an average mid-80s offering that shows flashes of becoming solid. He has continued to display aptitude for a mid-80s changeup, giving him a deep mix of pitches. 

Strong and athletic, Williams has cleaned up his delivery during his time in college but didn’t provide consistent strikes until this year. He looked good in the fall of 2019 and scouts thought he was trending upward before he broke the ring finger on his pitching hand during a rundown drill. His breakthrough has come a year later and he’s making a convincing argument that he could be a mid-rotation starter.” 

Williams might be a bit of a stretch in the first round, and if the White Sox did indeed take Williams, they clearly prioritized college pitching over some of the (likely) available prep bats. However, he has clear mid-rotation potential, and he’s been clocked as high as 101 mph on the radar gun, so the upside is visible.

Draft Rankings:

  • MLB Pipeline: 31st
  • Baseball America: 30th
  • FanGraphs: 19th
  • Keith Law (The Athletic): 54th

Izaac Pacheco, 3B, Friendswood HS

Age: 18  |  Height: 6’4″  |  Weight: 225  |  B/T: L/R

Committed: Texas A&M

MLB Pipeline Grades – Hit: 45  |  Power: 55  |  Run: 45  |  Arm: 60  |  Field: 55  |  Overall: 50

Back to the prep players we go! Pacheco is a Texas A&M commit that has already begun the transition from SS to 3B. He’s a very strong left-handed hitter with some big power, but also some big swing and miss potential. His front hip tends to fly open a bit, which will make it hard for him to face some of the better left-handed guys around the league. He’s an average runner who has the potential to be an above-average defender at 3B.

MLB Pipeline ranks Pacheco 30th with the following report:

Pacheco may offer more left-handed juice than anyone in the 2021 Draft, creating plus-plus raw pop with strength, bat speed, leverage and loft. He performed well at the East Coast Pro showcase but otherwise swung and missed excessively during the summer while selling out for home runs. He got too pull-happy and chased too many pitches out of the strike zone, though he had shown a better approach previously and has settled down some this spring. 

Though he has good infield actions for his size, Pacheco has fringy speed that will necessitate a move to third base. The Texas A&M recruit has soft hands and plus arm strength, leading some evaluators to believe he can develop into a plus defender at the hot corner. Ultimately, most of his value will come from his offensive production, and that will hinge on his ability to make adjustments at the plate.”

Overall, Pacheco has quick hands and the smooth swing of a natural left-handed hitter. However, the swing-and-miss potential is real.

Multiple mock drafts – including one from our friends at Future Sox – have had Pacheco falling to the White Sox in the second round of the draft. Keith Law of The Athletic wrote that the White Sox attended many of Pacheco’s games at the end of this season. While Pacheco might be a stretch at 22, it’s worth keeping an eye on him when the Sox pick again later in the draft if he’s still on the board. He’s a high-risk, high-reward type player.

Draft Rankings:

  • MLB Pipeline: 30th
  • Baseball America: 36th
  • FanGraphs: 60th
  • Keith Law (The Athletic): 22nd

Jaden Hill, RHP, LSU

Age: 21  |  Height:  6’4″  |  Weight: 234  |  B/T: R/R

Previously Drafted: 2018, 38th (1143) – St. Louis Cardinals

MLB Pipeline Grades – Fastball: 65  |  Slider: 55  |  Changeup: 60  |  Control: 50  | Overall: 50

Jaden Hill is an interesting player. After being drafted out of high school but honoring his commitment to LSU, Hill entered this draft cycle as one of the top three arms in the class. However, early this season, he went down with Tommy John Surgery, effectively ending his season. That being said, he was rated so highly pre-injury for a reason. Hill displayed an above-average three-pitch mix with solid command and a fastball that touched 98. His changeup is considered one of the best ones in the draft class, and he pairs it well with a really good slider and developing cutter.

MLB Pipeline says the following about their 36th-ranked prospect:

“Hill operated in the upper 90s as a reliever last season and has flashed the ability to deal at 95-97 mph with a peak of 99 as a starter. He has possessed a plus changeup since his high school days and it presently arrives in the mid-80s with a lot of tumble. He has shown signs of transforming what had been a slurvy breaking ball into a nasty mid-80s slider that can be a plus offering at its best but was below average for much of 2021. 

A former three-star quarterback recruit who had offers from mid-level college football programs, Hill is strong, physical and athletic at 6-foot-4 and 234 pounds. He throws strikes but still needs to fine-tune his command and has yet to prove he can maintain premium stuff over a full season of starts. If he can’t, he offers closer upside as a reliever.”

I like Hill a lot – he’s someone that very clearly would be a top 10 pick if he were healthy. Obviously, any team willing to spend a first-round pick on someone who has recently undergone Tommy John Surgery is taking a huge risk. If the White Sox are willing to take that risk here, they could get a top 10 talent late in the first round.

No matter what – some team is going to be very fortunate they drafted Jaden Hill.

Draft Rankings:

  • MLB Pipeline: 36th
  • Baseball America: 24th
  • FanGraphs: 37th
  • Keith Law (The Athletic): 27th

Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest

Age: 21  |  Height:  6’6″  |  Weight: 235  |  B/T: R/R

Previously Drafted: 2018, 40th (1189) – Cincinnati Reds

MLB Pipeline Grades – Fastball: 70  |  Curveball: 55  |  Slider: 50  |  Changeup: 50  |  Control: 45  |  Overall: 50

In 2020, the White Sox picked Garrett Crochet and Jared Kelley with their first two picks, who had the consensus best fastball among college and prep players. If the White Sox were to try and follow that route again, they would set their sights on Ryan Cusick. At 6’6″ and 235 pounds, Cusick easily has the best fastball in the draft, touching 102 at times throughout the year. However, unlike some of the other arms on this list, Cusick’s second and third pitches leave more to be desired. His slider is inconsistent, and his changeup usage this year was minimal.

MLB Pipeline has the following to say about their 26th ranked prospect:

“Cusick’s money pitch is his fastball, which can sit at 94-97 mph with high spin rates and riding action deep into games and has been clocked as high as 102. After struggling to come up with a reliable breaking ball, he has shown a much-improved 79-82 mph curveball this spring that can be a plus pitch at its best. He also has a sinking changeup that shows flashes of becoming a solid offering when he uses it, as well as a mid-80s slider that gets slurvy. 

There isn’t much effort in Cusick’s delivery and his arm works well, but he has yet to provide consistent strikes. As impressive as his arm strength is, he’ll have to be more efficient to succeed as a starter at higher levels. His huge 6-foot-6 frame and high arm slot provide angle and plane on his pitches and add to the difficulty of trying to barrel them.”

Back earlier in the process of mock drafts, James Fox of Future Sox projected Cusick to the White Sox. The risk is there with someone like Cusick who hasn’t displayed any solid secondary offerings – many of those pitchers end up in the bullpen. However, based on mock drafts around the industry, Cusick is a fringe first-round arm that, should he fall, will be a great value pick later in the first round and early second round.

Draft Rankings:

  • MLB Pipeline: 26th
  • Baseball America: 39th
  • FanGraphs: 20th
  • Keith Law (The Athletic): 12th

Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State

Age: 21  |  Height: 6’2″  |  Weight: 229  |  B/T: R/R

MLB Pipeline Grades – Fastball: 60  |  Curveball: 55  |  Slider: 60  |  Changeup: 50  |  Control: 55  |  Overall: 50

Will Bednar had an interesting season at Mississippi State. The current College World Series champion started his season in the Bulldogs’ bullpen before moving to the rotation to become their best starter. He features a solid fastball and a plus slider that allowed him to transition to a starting role with so much success. His fastball sits 92-94 and touches 97 at times, but it definitely plays well up in the zone. His aforementioned slider and changeup have also developed into solid swing and miss pitches. He pounded the zone with strikes this summer as well after recovering from a neck injury.

Here’s what MLB Pipeline says about their 32nd ranked prospect:

“Bednar’s previous exposure at Mississippi State consisted of just 15 1/3 innings a year ago before he opened eyes with sterling stuff in the fall that has carried over into 2021. He sits at 93-95 mph and tops out at 97 with his fastball, which can exhibit both heavy life and riding action. His mid-80s slider has become a consistent plus pitch this spring, surpassing his solid upper-70s curveball with depth. 

Bednar also has the makings of at least an average changeup and is pounding the strike zone more than ever, two more ingredients that add to his mid-rotation starter’s profile. He doesn’t have the cleanest delivery, but he makes it work and has a 6-foot-2, 229-pound frame built for durability. Scouts like his intelligence and competitiveness as well as his physical traits.” 

According to Prospects Live’s most recent mock draft, Will Bednar is being strongly considered by the White Sox and would be near the top of their draft board if he were available at 22. He is one of a few arms that is making it difficult on the White Sox to choose between one of two clear options here: a college arm or a prep infielder.

Draft Rankings:

  • MLB Pipeline: 32nd
  • Baseball America: 18th
  • FanGraphs: 44th
  • Keith Law (The Athletic): 37th

How To Watch

Day 1 (Round 1): MLB Network/ESPN — 7:07 p.m. EST
Day 2 (Rounds 2-10): MLB.com — 1 p.m. EST
Day 3 (Rounds 11-20): MLB.com — 12 p.m. EST

You can watch the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft on July 11 on MLB Network and ESPN. Day 2 and Day 3 of the draft can be streamed on MLB.com.

Barring any major changes in draft strategy, it is likely that the White Sox’ first-round pick is somewhere on this list above. As the picks come in, we will continue to provide detailed information on just exactly who the White Sox are adding to their depleted farm system.

If you’re looking for additional content, check out our recent draft preview podcast with James Fox of Future Sox/South Side Sox. We covered topics including the state of the White Sox farm system, drafting philosophy, targets, predictions, and more! You can listen to it below or click here for the video.

Be sure to follow us on social media @SoxOn35th and subscribe to our website for draft coverage!

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Aaron Sapoznik

I’m guessing the White Sox will lean toward one of the college arms over the prep candidates in the first round. That has been their m.o. and it has mostly worked for them in recent drafts. I’m surprised that no college bats were presented here. That has clearly been the White Sox preference in the past. If they were to prioritize a position in the first round you’d think that a catcher would be at the top of their wish list considering the lack of depth in their system.

Last edited 11 months ago by Aaron Sapoznik

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