With the past few years starting the trend of shortening MLB drafts, more teams have been signing undrafted free agents (UDFAs) from the college ranks to supplement their farm system. Last season, the White Sox signed seven UDFAs over a period of a couple of weeks, giving chances to players who didn’t get to hear their names called during the draft.
UDFAs can sign for up to $125,000, which is new starting this year. Previously, UDFAs could only sign for as much as $20,000.
Currently, the White Sox have signed another eleven undrafted free agents in 2022; only the Phillies and Padres have signed more than them this year (13 each). The breakdown is as follows: seven pitchers, two infielders, one outfielder, and one catcher.
Here is some more information about all eleven UDFAs, with the most recent signings listed first. We will continue to update this blog as more UDFAs are signed!
Eric Hildebrand, RHP, Purdue
Height: 6’0 | Weight: 180 lbs | Bat/Throw: R/R | DOB: 1/4/2000 (22 years old)
Hildebrand spent three seasons with the Purdue Boilermakers, amassing 49.2 innings across the three seasons with a 4-3 record and 5.62 ERA. He saw a career-high 24 innings this past season, striking out 20 hitters and walking nine. His best season was in 2021, however, when he allowed only five of 18 inherited runners to score as one of Purdue’s top high-leverage relievers. Before Purdue, he played his first collegiate season at Jackson College in Michigan, leading the team with a 2.83 ERA while registering 62 strikeouts and 28 walks in 57.1 innings.
He has some interesting mechanics that no doubt add to his deception, and he sits around 93-94 mph with the fastball. Look for Hildebrand to likely get some innings with the ACL White Sox in the coming weeks as he begins his professional career!
Connor McCullough, RHP, Kansas State
Height: 6’1 | Weight: 185 lbs | Bat/Throw: R/R | DOB: 10/5/1999 (22 years old)
McCullough spent three seasons primarily as a starter at Kansas State, going 10-9 with a 4.63 ERA in 35 games (33 starts). He’s shown a lot of strikeout potential in the past, posting 10.9 K/9 in 2020. In the past two seasons, he’s seen his strikeout rate rise as he’s gotten more innings (77.1 and 73.2 IP in 2021 and 2022, respectively). He led the team in both strikeouts and innings in 2022, showing his ability to serve as a starter long-term by going at least five innings in 10 of 14 starts.
McCullough has decent stuff, with average-to-below-average velocity and spin and short arm action similar to Lucas Giolito’s. With a starter’s resume, the White Sox will no doubt be able to work on improving the stuff he already has.
Taishi Nakawake, SS, UC Irvine
Height: 5’11 | Weight: 185 lbs | Bat/Throw: R/R | DOB: 6/20/1998 (24 years old)
With Nakawake, the White Sox saw a player with an incredible glove that could move through the system with a refined plate approach. Considered an advanced defender, Nakawake was named the 2022 Big West Tri-Defensive Player of the Year and posted a .960 fielding percentage in three combined seasons with UC Irvine. His glove
Over three seasons at UC Irvine, Nakawake accumulated 505 player appearances, hitting .237/.340/.298 with both of his two career homers coming in 2022 – with one of the two being a walk-off home run. His approach at the plate will likely never be one with home run power, but he possesses gap-to-gap ability that can be improved with some changes in his mechanics. He also appears to have some on-base ability as well, walking over 20 times in consecutive seasons.
Jacob Palisch, LHP, Texas A&M
Height: 6’4 | Weight: 215 lbs | Bat/Throw: L/L | DOB: 8/19/1998 (23 years old)
The White Sox have grabbed quite a few College World Series heroes in the draft/UDFA process, and Palisch certainly falls into that category. In his college career, Palisch spent time at Stanford (three years) and Texas A&M (one year), going 17-6 with a combined 3.17 ERA in 102 games (7 starts). He has plenty of strikeout potential, posting a 10.9 K/9 in 2022 with the Aggies, and has always been really good at limiting walks (2.5 BB/9 in his career, 1.8 BB/9 in 2022). His best season was his year with the Aggies when he posted a 2.69 ERA in 29 games (60.1 IP).
Palisch has some pretty solid offspeed stuff, some interesting spin/velocity metrics, and has shown the ability to pitch in big games. He will be someone pretty interesting to watch as he gets his start within the White Sox system.
Matt Archer, 2B, Lynn University (Florida)
Height: 5’10 | Weight: 180 lbs | Bat/Throw: R/R | DOB: 8/13/2000 (21 years old)
Archer played his first two college seasons with the University of Central Florida (UCF), appearing in 22 games across the two seasons. During a walk-off celebration in mid-March of 2021, he would tear his ACL and miss the rest of the season. He then transferred to Lynn University before his 2022 season and would go on to hit .330/.397/.453 with 10 doubles in 28 games before going on to play in the MLB Draft Summer League. In 23 games in the Draft League, he would hit just .205/.278/.282 in 90 plate appearances.
Archer attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School, where he was a two-time Miami Herald First-Team All-County and the Miami Herald Broward County Player of the year his senior season.
Ben Beutel, LHP, Iowa
Height: 6’0 | Weight: 165 lbs | Bat/Throw: L/L | DOB: 9/2/1999 (22 years old)
Ben Beutel is a LHP from Iowa who throws from a low, sidearm slot. He started his college career at Bowling Green University before transferring after this freshman season to the University of Iowa. His senior season was his true breakout season, pitching in 29 games (30.2 IP) and posting a 1.47 ERA, 12.0 K/9, and 1.8 BB/9 while collecting four saves for the Hawkeyes. Beutel also picked off nine base runners throughout the season, which helped him earn a Rawlings Gold Glove as the best defensive pitcher in Division I college baseball. He was also an ABCA/Rawlings second-team All-Midwest Region and a second-team All-Big Ten honoree.
Beutel also played in the Prospects League this summer, going 2-2 with a 2.73 ERA in seven appearances (29.2 IP). He struck out 41 hitters (12.4 K/9) and walked 12 (3.6 BB/9). He was used exclusively as a reliever at Iowa, but he made one start during the Prospects League. This is certainly an intriguing arm the White Sox added as a UDFA.
Troy Claunch, C, Texas A&M
Height: 6’0 | Weight: 210 lbs | Bat/Throw: R/R | DOB: 9/1/1998 (23 years old)
Claunch comes to the White Sox organization after spending his graduate season with Texas A&M. He started his college career at Oregon State, hitting .305/.379/.399 in his final season as a Beaver in 2012. As a junior at Oregon State, he earned All-Pac 12 First Team and was a member of the Buster Posey Award watch list. He would then transfer to Texas A&M and hit .292/.371/.392 with 280 plate appearances. He was also solid begin the plate, catching 12 baserunners stealing throughout the season.
Known as a defense-first catcher with a rocket arm, Claunch certainly made an impact in his only season with Texas A&M with some clutch play during the College World Series.
Chris Lanzilli, OF, Arkansas
Height: 6’2 | Weight: 225 lbs | Bat/Throw: R/R | DOB: 6/18/1998 (24 years old)
Lanzilli, to put it lightly, has some pop in his bat. In a five-season college career with both Wake Forest and Arkansas, Lanzilli slashed .305/.388/.549 with 53 home runs in 229 games. In his senior season, Lanzilli led Arkansas with a .326 batting average and .937 OPS. He hit 11 home runs and nine doubles and recorded 40 RBI in 59 games. He was previously drafted in the 39th round of the 2019 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants and earned All-American honors during his time at Wake Forest.
He’s an exciting bat with a lot of power and the fact that the White Sox were able to land him as a UDFA shocked a lot of people. He’s already 24, so he might be able to move quickly to the upper part of the minor leagues.
Drew McDaniel, RHP, Mississippi
Height: 6’2 | Weight: 185 lbs | Bat/Throw: R/R | DOB: 8/26/2000 (21 years old)
Throughout the draft, the White Sox were clearly prioritizing players with great stuff, whether or not they had the perfect results to match. Drew McDaniel falls right into that category of player.
McDaniel pitched three seasons as a member of the Ole Miss staff but was really never able to find his best stuff. In 38 career games (20 career starts), he saw flashes of brilliance but was 10-5 with a 6.16 ERA. This past season, McDaniel began as a weekend starter but was eventually relegated to the bullpen. At the season’s end, McDaniel pitched a total of 32.2 innings, where he struck out 45 batters while giving up 23 walks and 28 hits. Opponents had an average of .244 against McDaniel.
McDaniel features an excellent curveball that is part of the reason he was able to get up to 12.4 K/9 this season with Ole Miss. However, he will have a lot of work to do in order to get his walks to come at a manageable rate, which has been part of McDaniel’s struggles throughout his college career. But, a great arm with interesting stuff is worth taking a chance on.
Kole Ramage, RHP, Arkansas
Height: 6’1 | Weight: 205 lbs | Bat/Throw: R/R | DOB: 9/11/1998 (23 years old)
In the trend of getting intriguing arms, the White Sox have gotten yet another Razorback within the draft/UDFA period.
Ramage spent five seasons with the Razorbacks, spending time as both a starter and reliever – but primarily as a reliever. He ended his college career with a 14-6 record, 5.01 ERA, 10.1 K/9, and 3.4 BB/9. He was the Razorbacks’ most-used reliever and finished the 2022 season with a 4.80 ERA over 50 2/3 innings and 31 appearances. Ramage’s 94 career appearances rank second all-time at Arkansas. He features a pretty good curveball, and despite the high ERA, got himself into a groove multiple times throughout this season. At one point early in the year, he had three consecutive outings that covered nine innings without giving up a run.
The White Sox stocked up on high-strikeout profile pitchers in this UDFA period, and Ramage is just another one of those intriguing arms that could make an impact.
Jonah Scolaro, LHP, Florida State
Height: 5’10 | Weight: 193 lbs | Bat/Throw: L/L | DOB: 8/3/1998 (23 years old)
Jonah Scolaro had a five-year career at Florida State that saw him primarily used as a reliever while consistently being in consideration for a weekend starter position. Scolaro made 120 appearances in his college career, which is the 4th most in Florida Seminole history. In those 166.2 career innings, he was 7-8 with a 3.62 ERA, 11.4 K/9, 3.9 K/9, and 12 saves.
Scolaro is a three-pitch pitcher and features a pretty wicked slider that has earned him multiple appearances on Pitching Ninja’s Twitter feed. As the White Sox showed throughout the draft, they feel their pitching staff needs the most help. Intriguing arms like Scolaro that can get plenty of swings and misses certainly stand out.
All of these UDFAs will be joining the White Sox 20 draft picks within their minor league assignments – most of them in Arizona and Low-A Kannapolis. From there, they will begin their journey, and we will keep you up to date on them!
Be sure to follow us @SoxOn35th for more UDFA updates as they are available!
Featured Image: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports