"How about that?" said a smiling White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann concerning the University of California connection. "We went from a program that was going to shut down to taking three guys from there."
Actually, three of the club's first 12 picks on Tuesday, beginning with the second round, involved players being selected from Cal. It seems like a good talent pool to swim in, considering the Golden Bears remain alive in the NCAA Baseball Championship Super Regional, facing Dallas Baptist on Saturday in Santa Clara.
Erik Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound right-handed pitcher with plus stuff, was taken in the second round out of Cal at pick No. 80. Johnson has a 6-4 record with a 2.94 ERA over 16 starts this season, but more impressively, he has fanned 96 in 96 innings and has given up just 63 hits.
Laumann views Johnson as a workhorse, "a Curt Schilling-type guy who we think is a starter." Johnson could open as high as Class A Kannapolis once they bring him into the organization after Cal's season concludes, but wouldn't be used in relief as 2010 No. 1 pick Chris Sale was employed after being drafted last year.
"You know we always have that internal discussion about how high guys start and where they start," Laumann said. "We feel like a strong college pitcher at a Division I program, he should be able to go out and compete with a full-season club.
"Whether we choose to do that at Kannapolis is hard to say. Sometimes you worry about the innings they've logged in college. We'll plug him in the rotation somewhere. Whenever he gets done, he's going to be ready to pitch. We won't have to build up innings or knock his innings off."
Shortstop Marcus Semien was drafted in the sixth round. Semien has a .272 average with 32 RBIs, 37 runs scored and eight stolen bases for the Bears.Chadd Krist rounds out the California trio, with the catcher going to the White Sox in the 13th round. Krist is hitting .306 and is second on the team with 40 RBIs, looked at presently as slightly ahead with his offensive game in comparison to his glove work.
As Laumann promised before the Draft and reiterated on Monday night, the White Sox went pitching heavy to start Day 2. Along with Johnson, the White Sox took right-hander Jeff Soptic out of Johnson County Community College in the third round. Soptic has a fastball that touched 101 mph this past season.
Right-handed pitcher Kyle McMillen from Kent State went in the fourth round to the White Sox. Left-handed pitcher Scott Snodgress from Stanford was the White Sox fifth-round selection.
Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at 11 a.m. CT on Wednesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Day 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
In total, the White Sox took 11 right-handed pitchers and five left-handed pitchers through their first 30 picks. But one pick not made, that of Ozney Guillen, the youngest son of manager Ozzie Guillen, drew its share of attention.
Ozney was not drafted through the first 30 rounds, after being selected by the White Sox in the 22nd round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft and then choosing to attend Miami Dade College, where he hit .347. Laumann, whose son, Jackson, also was not picked on Tuesday, acknowledged Ozney was on the White Sox board but a deeper 2011 Draft could account for the young man's drop.
Projected as a corner infielder or outfielder, Ozney's one home run in 144 at-bats this season could have hurt his projections.
"Those are things that we do. We profile guys and knowing that he is to be a corner player ... . He had 144 at-bats in JUCO this year with an aluminum bat and hit (one) home run," said Laumann of Ozney. "So in order to profile a corner, typically, you have to have some power.
"You know it's never been an issue as long as I've ever been here that you did something different with one of our people than you would with anybody else. We've always been told put them where they belong, take him where they belong and that's what we have done."
The White Sox loaded up on other West Coast players, where Laumann believes the talent was located this year.
"I've spent more time on the West Coast this year than I ever had," Laumann said. "But you have to go where the players are."
Second Round, Erik Johnson, 6-foot-2, 240 lbs, California, RHP
Johnson is a power starting pitcher, and an innings eater.
Third Round, Jeff Soptic, 6-foot-6, 210 lbs., Johnson County Community College, RHP
Some White Sox scouts saw the right-hander hit 101 mph on the radar gun. He pitched in a small program and doesn't have a lot of experience, so he should benefit from professional coaching. "You hear talk about a crude athlete," Laumann said. "Well, this is a big, strong good-bodied kid, who would be considered a crude pitcher."
Fourth Round, Kyle McMillen, 6-foot-2, 200 lbs, Kent St., RHP
This collegiate closer is looked at as more of a polished, three-inning type of pitcher to be used at the back end of a game. He's a fastball-slider pitcher right now, with a changeup mixed in now and then. He'll be asked to develop a third pitch, which means some innings to come.
Fifth Round, Scott Snodgress, 6-foot-5, 210 lbs., Stanford, LHP
Snodgress hasn't logged a lot of innings and has had some command issues, so he's a power pitching sort of project. "Everything works and his delivery is pretty clean," Laumann said.
Sixth Round, Marcus Semien, 6-foot-1, 190 lbs., California, SS
The White Sox drafted Semien out of high school three years ago and view him as a solid defender and a good contact-type of hitter. "This is a baseball player type of guy," Laumann said.
Seventh Round, Kevan Smith, 6-foot-3, 240 lbs., Pittsburgh, C
Smith was recruited by Pittsburgh and went there as a quarterback. He's a big, strong athlete, who shows plus arm strength and handled the pitching staff very well. He has the potential to hit some home runs.
Eighth Round, Ian Gardeck, 6-foot-2, 215 lbs, Angelina College, RHP
Gardeck attended local Crystal Lake South High School and was one of the kids whom the White Sox had to a workout last Friday at U.S. Cellular Field. "He threw very well for us," Laumann said. He's a power-arm sort of pitcher.
Ninth Round, Matthew Lane, 6-foot-5, 195 lbs., Northwest Florida St. College, LHP
Lane is a tall kid drafted more on his pitchability than being a power guy. "He creates a really good angle and has a good breaking ball and enough of a fastball to get by," Laumann said. "He's more of a pitcher and not a pure power-throwing project."
10th Round, Benjamin O'Shea, 6-foot-5, 255 lbs., Santa Fe Community College, LHP
He's another JUCO lefty that is probably going to be a summer draft and follow as he pitches in a collegiate summer league. "He had some expectations to be drafted higher and get more [money]," Laumann said.
11th Round, Blair Walters, 6-foot, 200 lbs., Hawaii, LHP
Viewed as a left-handed specialist, who comes with a tough angle. "He has great numbers against lefties," Laumann said.
12th Round, Andrew Virgili, 6-foot-2, 205 lbs., Lynn University, RHP
A power right-hander, with a fastball in the 90-94 range. He played at a smaller college, so the White Sox are going off of the area scout.
13th Round, Chadd Krist, 5-foot-11, 199 lbs., California, C
Krist is a solid catcher, who was referred to by a White Sox scout as a "doubles machine." The White Sox are hoping those doubles convert to home runs in pro ball. He's stronger with the bat than with the glove, at this point.
14th Round, Mark Ginther, 6-foot-3, 200 lbs, Oklahoma St., 3B
The White Sox give their scouts stars to place on certain players whom they have strong gut feelings about, regardless of talent potential. Two different White Sox scouts put stars on Ginther.
15th Round, David Herbek, 6-foot-1, 180 lbs., James Madison, SS
Herbek possesses some offensive pop and is described as an extra-base-hit-type of guy. "A really, really solid player," Laumann said. "He'll stay in the middle infield."
16th Round, Chris Bassitt, 6-foot-5, 205 lbs., Akron, RHP
Viewed as an eighth-inning guy. White Sox East Coast crosschecker Nick Hostetler saw him and really liked him.
17th Round, Collin Kuhn, 6-foot, 195, Arkansas, OF
Kuhn was compared by the White Sox to a smaller outfielder, Chad Curtis-type of player.
18th Round, Bryan Blough, 6-foot-1, 190 lbs., Kennesaw St., RHP
Could help the White Sox win at the lower levels. A senior who comes in with a successful background.
19th Round, Kevin Vance, 6-foot, 205 lbs., UConn, RHP
The White Sox saw Vance early in Florida, during a Big 10 vs. Big East tournament, and they felt he performed well enough down there to take a chance.
20th Round, Martin Medina, 6-foot, 195 lbs., Cal St. Bakersfield, C
Medina played catcher and first base but will be converted by the White Sox to a full-time catcher. White Sox scout Gary Woods, a former Major Leaguer, saw Medina catch and thought there was a lot of potential with the position conversion.
21st Round, Joseph De Pinto, USC, 6-foot, 190 lbs., 2B
De Pinto was described to the White Sox as a player who wasn't drafted as a junior and "plays with a chip on his shoulder," according to Laumann.
22nd Round, Blake Drake, 6-foot-7, 195 lbs., Indiana St. RHP
Drake has a really good arm angle and a good sinker that he threw for the White Sox in their Friday workout at U.S. Cellular Field. "He threw well there," Laumann said.
23rd Round, Michael Marjama, 6-foot-2, 205 lbs., Cal St. Long Beach, C
Marjama is a third baseman/catcher, who will be converted to a catcher. "We hope to get him in the system sooner than later," Laumann said.
24th Round, Mark Haddow, 6-foot-2, 220 lbs., Cal Santa Barbara, RF
Described as kind of a stronger, toolsy- type that needs to learn more about how to play.
25th Round, Christopher Devenski, 6-foot-3, Cal St. Fullerton, RHP
26th Round, Grant Buckner, 6-foot-2, 215 lbs., West Virginia, 3B
27th Round, Jake Cose, 6-foot-5, 200 lbs., San Joaquin Delta College, RHP
28th Round, Kyle Robinson, 6-foot-3, 215 lbs., Arkansas Fayetteville, 1B
29th Round, Dustin Hayes, 6-foot-2, 190 lbs., no school, CF
Hayes is a Canadian kid who worked out in Florida and drew a very positive reaction from the White Sox scout who saw him. "We needed to check with the Commissioner's Office since he was not in school whether he had gone through the Draft or not," Laumann said. "We found out he needed to be subject to the Draft. Not a lot of clubs knew a whole lot about him."
30th Round, Brandon Parrent, 6-foot-3, 215 lbs., Texas A & M, LHP
A good-armed left-hander whom the White Sox can't do a whole lot with yet, as Texas A & M is still alive in the NCAA Baseball Championship Super Regional.