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White Sox stock up on pitching in Draft

White Sox stock up on pitching in Draft

White Sox stock up on pitching in Draft
CHICAGO -- The story of this 2011 First-Year Player Draft was said to be pitching, where the depth of the talent certainly resided.

If that story eventually proves to be true three or four years down the road, as this raw talent matures, then the White Sox appear to have told quite a tale in their own right.

After taking fleet-footed outfielder Keenyn Walker with their first pick at No. 47 in the compensation round, the White Sox used nine of their next 11 selections on pitchers. The White Sox actually chose 11 right-handed pitchers and five southpaws out of their first 30 picks.

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"Like I said last night, we were real happy with a lot of the pitching that we got," said White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann, speaking after the Draft's conclusion on Wednesday. "The whole Draft was a pitching Draft that we took advantage of with nine of our first 12 picks."

Laumann mentioned during a recent interview with MLB.com how if White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Ken Williams had their way, the team would take as much pitching as possible. But Laumann knows the White Sox have to find guys "to catch and throw and score some runs," so he was more than satisfied with getting Walker.

"I was of course pleased with being able to get that athlete with that first pick," Laumann said. "After that, we wanted to go pitching."

"From the reports I get and I watched a lot of film over the last few days, there are some things that I like from a lot of these guys," said White Sox general manager Ken Williams, who expressed a high level of confidence in his scouting department. "Ultimately, we'll get them on the field and they'll have to prove they are worthy of prospect status."

Right-handed pitcher Erik Johnson (second round), shortstop Marcus Semien (sixth round) and catcher Chadd Krist (13th round) could be a few of those prospects spoken of by Williams. All three play for the University of California, a program saved from extinction and one that currently remains alive in the NCAA Baseball Tournament Super Regional. Laumann spoke of spending more time scouting on the west coast than he can remember in the past, but quickly added you have to go where the talent resides.

"You know, there have been times in the past where I've been accused of having an East Coast bias," said Laumann, after the White Sox took seven picks with a West Coast connection in the first 15. "We changed up a little bit on that this year. Our guys liked a lot of the guys out there."

Four players were taken in the 2011 Draft who participated in the White Sox-run Double Duty Classic, topped by Alex Santana in the second round to the Dodgers. Santana is the son of Rafael Santana, the director of the White Sox Dominican Academy.

Two players were selected who played for the White Sox Amateur City Elite team, including Dontrell Rush from Chicago's Harlan High School by the White Sox in the 48th round.

"(Wednesday) we filled some organizational needs and there's not always a whole lot left on that last day," Laumann said. "We think we got a couple of guys who are, if they are not going to play in the big leagues, they will at least help the guys develop that we have in the Minor Leagues."

Six catchers were taken by the White Sox, and another player who split time between third base and catcher is going to be converted to a backstop. The White Sox are as solid in the catching department as they have been in years, with Tyler Flowers and Josh Phegely behind A.J. Pierzynski and Ramon Castro. But Laumann said you can never have enough quality catching, just like pitching.

And the White Sox feel as if they got their share of quality pitching over the past few days.

"We are going to get some real good arms out of the bunch," said Laumann of the White Sox draft, which didn't include a high school player until catcher Bryce Mosier from Valhalla High School out of El Cajon, Calif. in the 33rd round.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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