White Sox lean toward pitching depth

White Sox lean toward pitching depth

DENVER -- Far too much attention currently is being paid to improving the White Sox's first-rate performance at the Major League level for general manager Ken Williams to break down the intricacies of his team's two-day effort in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

But the number that stood out for Williams was the 31 pitchers taken by his team out of the 49 possible picks. That total included 18 pitchers selected during Wednesday's second day of the draft, covering rounds 19 through 50.

"Everybody is always looking for pitchers," Williams said. "So, when you are trading and dealing, you are theoretically dealing from a position of strength."

The long list of names, starting with right-handed pitcher Lance Broadway out of TCU as the first-round's 15th pick and ending with left-handed pitcher Kyle Landers out of Noblesville High School in Indiana in the 50th round, included seven middle infielders, a handful of outfielders and a good balance between right-handed pitchers (16) and left-handers (15). But the one glaring absence until Wednesday was any player who applied his craft behind the plate.

Chicago's Minor League system features more than its fair share of top prospects, especially in the outfield. The one area where the organization seems to be lacking is at catcher, but selections of Daniel Jordan in the 27th round and Kris Welker in Round No. 41 won't make any sort of immediate impact or possibly any impact at all.

Yet, the White Sox were not about to take a catcher just for name only. Jeff Clement, who was selected by Seattle with the third overall pick out of USC, and the University of Texas' Taylor Teagarden were the standout backstops in this draft class, followed by a drop off.

"Catching to me, for this particular draft, was very thin," said White Sox senior director of player personnel Duane Shaffer on the team's lack of an early catching selection. "Last year, it was a much stronger group. This year, there are not very many top, top catching prospects.

"We went a little pitching happy, but you kind of take what the draft gives you. In this draft, it was giving us pitchers, so we took advantage."

Shaffer was exceedingly pleased with the first-round selection of Broadway, the right-handed pitcher from TCU, and hopes to have him signed and in the fold within the next seven days. Williams also backed the selection, pointing out that there might be flashier selections than Broadway, but that his collegiate numbers could translate in a very similar manner at the professional level.

The selection of right-handed pitcher Richard Brooks in the third round also was singled out by Shaffer, as the White Sox had him targeted as a second-round selection. For the first time in 15 years, though, the White Sox didn't have a second-round pick.

Brooks was selected out of high school by the White Sox in the 2003 draft, but he elected to attend school at East Carolina University. He throws his fastball in the 88-to-94 mph range, with a good breaking ball and changeup.

The 10th-round selection of left-handed pitcher Israel Chirino also was a point of interest brought up by Shaffer. The 6-foot, 200-pound Chirino pitched for the University of Miami, but had a run-in with the Hurricanes' head coach and left the team early in the season. The White Sox had a chance to see him in March and then in May, when he was no longer playing, and liked the way the ball came out of his hand.

"He's a left-hander, with plus stuff," Shaffer said of Chirino.

In keeping with another unofficial White Sox tradition, the team picked a baseball player who also had collegiate quarterbacking experience. Clayton Richard, a second-string signal-caller at the University of Michigan, became the White Sox's eighth-round pick as a left-handed reliever.

Richard completed 8 of 15 passes last year for Michigan, spelling freshman starter Chad Henne in five games, but did not throw a touchdown pass. He finished 0-1 with a 2.43 ERA in 33 1/3 innings for a Wolverine baseball squad that was eliminated in NCAA Regional play this past weekend. Richard joins Chris Getz, a second baseman selected in the fourth round, as the White Sox's Maize-and-Blue representatives.

He soon will join Joe Borchard and Josh Fields on the Minor League quarterbacking depth chart.

"This kid is very tough on left-handers," Shaffer said of Richard, who throws from three-quarters to sidearm, and will be a reliever for the White Sox.

Other White Sox selections on Day 1 were right-handed pitchers Ryan Rote (fifth round), Daniel Cortes (seventh), Joseph Winn (ninth), Jason Rice (11th), Derek Rodriguez (14th), Enrique Garcia (17th) and Tim Sabo (18th), along with left-handed pitchers Sheldon Catchot (12th) and Alexander Woodson (16th). Outfielder Aaron Cunningham was taken in the sixth round, while first baseman Yudelmis Hernandez went in the 13th and third baseman Vernon Carter went in the 15th.

Carter, who checks in at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds at just 18 years of age, was taken out of Sierra Vista High School in Las Vegas. Christian Marrero was a player of note in the second day, as the 18-year-old outfielder from Broward Junior College is the younger brother of Major Leaguer Eli Marrero.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.