Preparations for '17 Draft well underway

Pleased with '16 picks, White Sox seek ways to improve

Preparations for '17 Draft well underway

CHICAGO -- Nick Hostetler was finishing an interview on Saturday during SoxFest at the Hilton Chicago when a fan approached and congratulated him on the White Sox standout 2016 Major League Draft class.

The White Sox director of amateur scouting, who represented his plethora of talented scouts, received plaudits all weekend for the group selected, including catcher Zack Collins and right-handers Zack Burdi and Alec Hansen at the top. But being already in deep preparation for the 2017 Draft, Hostetler wants to leave last year in the past.

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"It's funny because the first comment I made to my staff in our organization meetings was I don't ever want to talk about 2016 again," Hostetler said. "We are very proud of it, we are very excited about it. To see these kids here with Zack and Zack and even the kids who aren't here, the excitement in talking about these guys is terrific. But at the same time, you have to move forward.

"One of the messages I just sent to my guys I think it was last week in an email, 2016 was great and we have to be better in '17. We have to have that mindset. We can always improve. We can always be better."

SoxFest energizes team, fans

In supporting that theory, Hostetler went back and studied last year's Draft right after it concluded and right after the '16 season. He looked over the statistics in trying to find ways where they could have done better.

"Maybe we could have taken a guy a round later, moved him into a different spot," Hostetler said. "It's always about learning, and if you have pride in what you do, if you believe in what you are doing and you know that your staff does as well, you always want to be better.

"I know we will work harder than ever in '17. I anticipate the results to be better than they were in '16."

Hahn doesn't expect to rebuild and contend

Although the White Sox feature a number of accomplished veteran players not often seen in true rebuilding squads, general manager Rick Hahn doesn't expect to contend and rebuild at the same time.

"It's tough to serve two masters in that regard," Hahn said. "What we're going to look for from this 2017 team is playing the game the way we want it played, the level of energy, level of focus, preparation.

"The focus of our scouting department, of our player development people, of the Major League staff is on building something that's sustainable. In the short term we might have to pay some price at the big league level."

Hahn on rebuilding process

Hahn stated the obvious at SoxFest on Friday. If they had a team finishing under .500 in '16 and the White Sox took away Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, among others, it's tough to say with a straight face they are ready to contend.

"However, everyone here understands what we're trying to accomplish for the long term," Hahn said. "Stranger things have happened in baseball where teams that weren't expected to contend come together and are able to succeed.

"If that happens, fantastic, and we'll help facilitate it as much as we can. But in reality we're closer to the start than we are the finish of this process of rebuilding this club."

Jersey switches

Shortstop Tim Anderson will move to jersey No. 7. Third baseman Matt Davidson and center fielder Charlie Tilson announced at a Sunday SoxFest seminar that they would be switching jersey numbers, with Davidson wearing 24 and Tilson featuring 22.

As Davidson quipped, he could channel Joe Crede while Tilson could do the same with Scott Podsednik in wearing their old numbers.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.