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Monday, April 22

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White Sox Fri Jul 15 2011

Sox Scouting Director Supports International Draft

Thumbnail image for white sox.gifAlthough Kenny Williams has become famous for trading prospects and young talent to help the big club and the White Sox farm system is ranked a dismal 27th by Baseball America, the well hasn't totally run dry.

Recently, Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza in particular have drawn a great deal of attention because of their great seasons in Triple-A Charlotte and a general panic about the turgid White Sox offense. With constant speculation about who can be moved, waived, etc., to clear roster room, White Sox fans are suddenly paying keen attention to the Knights, with every strikeout by Adam Dunn or bungled play by Alex Rios bringing cries for this power duo.

In light of this, and the recent amateur draft, it was very kind of Doug Laumann, the club's director of amateur scouting, to take time Thursday to join Sox bloggers on a conference call and discuss the recent draft and the direction of the Sox farm system.

The White Sox clearly place a huge emphasis on pitching, as evidenced by the fact that seven of their first 10 picks this year were young hurlers. Laumann discussed this at length, noting that Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams would be "tickled pink" if all 10 had been pitchers. There's a saying that to get one pitcher to the majors, it takes 10 prospects, so heading in this direction bodes well for the Sox, particularly in this post-steroid era where pitching dominates.

On another positive note, the Sox have now signed seven of their first 10 picks, including first-round outfielder Keenyn Walker and hard-throwing, third-round right-hander Jeff Soptic.

When asked about drafting a whopping seven catchers, Laumann noted that it was always hard to find catchers and a team can never have enough, while lauding the job that Sox prospects Mike Blanke, Tyler Flowers (now with the White Sox due to Ramon Castro's injury), Josh Phegley and Miguel Gonzalez are doing in the minors.

With the hue and cry surrounding Viciedo and De Aza, the issue of White Sox activity in Latin America in general was also addressed. According to Laumann, the White Sox have scouts on the ground in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, many of them former players with little scouting experience, being guided and instructed by his experienced staff. Laumann himself has visited the Dominican in the past couple of years and is planning additional trips there this summer.

That said, a theme that arose repeatedly was the complexity of the dynamics in Latin America, which allows agents to "hide" prime prospects, showing them only to clubs they know have deep pockets, and creating a distinct advantage for teams with greater resources.

When asked about the possibility of an international draft being worked into the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, Laumann said he had just spoken with the Commissioner's office regarding that.

No one is really sure at this point what form that might take, whether teams would fold international players into the existing amateur draft or select them separately. If the former, it would push some domestic players down, making them easier to obtain while removing some of the leverage Latin American players currently have being exempt from Rule IV.

Whatever form it takes, change seems likely to occur, sooner rather than later. Laumann sounded strongly in favor of some sort of formalization taking place, saying "dynamics need to be fixed if the purpose of the draft is a competitive balance. A lot of things need to be fixed."

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