Hawkins checks in at No. 68 in Top 100 Prospects

Hawkins checks in at No. 68 in Top 100 Prospects
CHICAGO -- Courtney Hawkins stands out as the White Sox most highly touted top pick in the First-Year Player Draft since ... ?

Gordon Beckham? Chris Sale? Frank Thomas?

With just 229 Minor League at-bats to his credit after being selected 13th overall last year, it's almost unfair to address anything but the right-handed-hitting, right-handed-throwing outfielder's high level of talent. But there's no doubt within the White Sox organization that Hawkins has Major League ability, and they believe it's a talent base that could make him a standout player for years to some.

Hawkins has been noticed by others outside the White Sox as well, checking in at No. 68 in MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects for 2013, unveiled on MLB Network Tuesday night.

The annual ranking of baseball's biggest and brightest young talent is assembled by MLB.com's Draft and prospect expert Jonathan Mayo, who compiles input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, closeness to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLB.com's Prospect Watch, only includes players with rookie status in 2013.

Addison Reed, who set a franchise rookie record with 29 saves in 2012, was the only White Sox prospect in the Top 100 last year. Hawkins serves as the team's lone representative in this year's 100.

Aside from a skill set that produced a .284 average, eight homers, 33 RBIs and 11 stolen bases over stops with rookie-level Bristol, Class A Kannapolis and Class A Winston-Salem for the Carolina League playoffs, the 19-year-old has a big league aura about him.

A twitter account of @CHawkins10 already has tied him into the White Sox fan base through his entertaining personal observations and commentary, a fan base holding hopes he'll be clearing the fences at U.S. Cellular Field in the very near future.

"It's more of a gravitating personality," said a smiling White Sox assistant general manager Buddy Bell of the team's top prospect. "It's like everybody wants to be around him. He's talking all the time, whether it's about himself or something else. He has kind of a big league personality.

"He has all kinds of tools. But he's fun to be around. He's always got a smile on his face. Don't let that fool you either. He's a tremendous competitor."

Bell admits people thought the White Sox were crazy to promote Hawkins to Winston-Salem at the end of the 2012 campaign, a move coming on the heels of just 212 at-bats. The White Sox goal was to see how he handled himself against Carolina League competition during just a few playoff games, and Hawkins received high marks.

"In that series, to battle like he did with two strikes, that's like wow, this kid really competes. He doesn't accept failure," said Bell, handing out more plaudits to Hawkins. "Outfield-wise, he can throw, obviously, and run.

"Sometimes he runs until they tag him out. We got to calm him down there at times. But we would rather see that than somebody who is not as aggressive because they learn more that way."

The Red Sox, Marlins, Twins, Cardinals and Rangers tied for the most players in the Top 100 with six each. The White Sox were joined by the Braves, Angels and Brewers at the bottom end with just one.

Infielder Carlos Sanchez, who doesn't turn 21 until June 29, didn't crack this particular prospects list. This fact doesn't diminish the White Sox belief that the switch-hitter, who is better suited at second base or shortstop, could contribute to the South Siders during the course of the 2013 season.

Sanchez hit a robust .323 between stops at Winston-Salem, Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, drove in 56, scored 79 and swiped 26 bases last season. Bell described Sanchez as fundamentally solid and that "he does what you need him to do."

"If you need to get a walk, he's not afraid to take a walk or get a big hit," Bell said. "He can drive a guy in from second. I think he's going to develop some power. I don't think it's Beckham-type power, if you want to compare second baseman.

"He's as smart of a player as we have in the Minor Leagues. He's instinctively so good."

Starting pitchers such as Simon Castro and Nestor Molina, who both battled through injury-plagued 2012 campaigns, along with Andre Rienzo and Charlie Leesman hold the White Sox interest for the upcoming season in terms of their progress. Bell also mentioned left-handed pitcher Scott Snodgress (fifth round, 2011 Draft) and right-hander Erik Johnson (second round, 2011) as future starters to watch, pointing out that Johnson has the chance to be a No. 2 at the big league level.

"You never want to put a 1 on him. But this is a tough kid, smart and Snodgress is the other guy that has really kind of developed quicker than we thought," Bell said. "I always thought pitchers come a little quicker than position players because sometimes position players are looking for power and on-base percentage and that doesn't always happen. Pitchers can kind of fly through a little quicker as evidenced by last year with all the pitchers that came up here."

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