The White Sox signed third-round pick Jeff Soptic Friday, making the organization the first in baseball this season to have each of its first draft picks under contract.
Baseball America's Jim Callis describes Soptic as "raw," but notes he has hit 100 mph with his fastball. The Sox went over slot to keep Soptic away from his commitment to the University of Missouri (my progression: Awesome! Nuts! Awesome!) by about $40,000, which is good to see even if it's not too high over slot.
Sox scouting director Doug Laumann spoke with bloggers in a conference call yesterday -- unfortunately, I was unable to participate -- but he had an interesting comment on player valuation in the draft:
"I've always been told by [Jerry] Reinsdorf and Kenny [Williams] that we're going to take the best player available. Now there's a point where I have to temper that a little bit. If we feel a player is valued at X number of dollars, and he wants X plus $2 million, then I'm probably not going to go ahead and take him." -- South Side Sox
It's clear the White Sox are an organization that likes to spend money at the major league level, which is fine. They're not in rebuilding mode (see: Kansas City) and they're not the Yankees or Red Sox. In other words, they don't need to and/or don't have the resources to throw money at the draft.
Going a fairly insignificant amount over slot is one thing -- but, as often is the case, teams have to pay out the nose for top-flight talent in the draft. It's why Jered Weaver fell to the Angels earlier last decade, among other examples.
The Sox aren't in the business of throwing cash at the draft, which again, isn't necessarily a bad thing. But eventually, the Sox are going to have to develop and keep some young talent that'll provide the surplus value necessary to justify big-time acquisitions like Jake Peavy, Alex Rios and Adam Dunn. Right now, once Dayan Viciedo graduates to the majors for good, the Sox don't have much of that talent.
Latin America opens up a whole other can of worms that I quite frankly don't have the time to get into this afternoon, but it doesn't appear the Sox will be in on any of the big-time talent coming out of the Dominican Republic anytime soon:
"We had several players in Latin America that we had interest in before the July 2 deadline, but we might've had a price tag on them of X, and another club that's willing and wanted to spend a whole lot more money comes in and offers the same player X plus $2 million, and we honestly didn't think that at that point in time the investment was worth it."
"But I can assure you we're there, we're scouting, we're beginning to evaluate. We haven't made much of a splash yet as far as signing any of these guys, but I'm going to spend some time over there again this summer, and I would expect sometime here, at least by the end of the calendar year, that we'll probably sign a few guys in Latin America." -- South Side Sox
Again, I'm not saying the Sox's strategy to focus their money on the major leagues is a bad idea. But history generally shows that an organization needs some young, inexpensive talent to stay afloat.
Then again, the ship hasn't sunk yet, despite the outward appearance of a leaky bottom. Five games is not insurmountable, and if I'm playing optimist here, there are plenty of opportunities to overcome the deficit.
Final thought: Is being an optimist about the White Sox the hipster thing to do? So if they become good, you can say you thought the Sox would win the division before it was cool?
Podcast appearance: I can't recommend Adam and Jeff's podcast enough -- like, you should already be listening to it -- so my appearance on it isn't *really* why I'm pushing it. Although it helps. Check out the Oral Sox Podcast.