Sox thinking long-term with Hawkins

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Sox thinking long-term with Hawkins

The White Sox were, by most accounts, expected to take a college player -- likely a pitcher -- with the No. 13 pick in Monday's edition of the MLB Draft. They did just that two years ago, and that player wound up throwing a complete game on Sunday against Seattle.

It had been 11 years since the White Sox last selected a high school player with their first draft pick, although Kris Honel never panned out. The last high school position player the Sox took was catcher Mark Johnson all the way back in 1994. Safe to say, few had the White Sox picking Courtney Hawkins at No. 13.

But White Sox scouting director Doug Laumann wanted it that way. He said the White Sox had been interested in Hawkins for a while, and the interest was mutual. Hawkins played in last year's Double-Duty Classic at U.S. Cellular Field and knew some members of the organization prior to being announced as the team's pick.

"Oh, man, it's amazing," Hawkins said of being tabbed by the White Sox. "Coming out here to New York, getting invited for the first-round player draft, being called by the White Sox after playing there, being there, meeting all the personnel before, it's amazing, and knowing that you're one of the best 13 in the country, it feels pretty good."

Hawkins is incredibly athletic -- as he showed with his somewhat-infamous backflip on the MLB Network draft set -- and, like Chris Sale two years ago, was expected to be selected a little higher than he was. Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein called Hawkins' drop "mysterious," which sounds an awful lot like Sale's odd tumble in 2010.

Sale, of course, came up and helped the White Sox in 2010, serving as a lights-out reliever. Still a teenager, Hawkins won't follow that path. In fact, by the time Hawkins may be ready for the majors, Sale will be an established veteran -- or, if Hawkins' development takes a little longer, ready to hit free agency.

While the Sox farm system is widely regarded as being among the worst in baseball, the organization does have the luxury of waiting for Hawkins to develop thanks to a decent crop of young outfielders.

Jared Mitchell has come around with Double-A Birmingham, entering Tuesday with a .417 on-base percentage in 55 games. He's still at least a year away from the majors and has a major hurdle to climb in Triple-A all while working on cutting down his strikeouts, but the 2009 first-round pick has done everything in his power to restore faith in his potential.

Keenyn Walker, the Sox first pick in 2011, similarly needs to cut down on his strikeouts but has posted a fine .370 OBP with Single-A Kannapolis in his first full processional season. The news isn't as good for Trayce Thompson, a 2009 high school draftee, who has struggled in his first year with High-A Winston-Salem, hitting only six home runs with a .312 OBP in 52 games.

But with Hawkins and Keon Barnum -- who Laumann expects to remain at first base but may get a trial in left or right field at some point -- the Sox not only have depth in the outfield, they have talent. That talent doesn't always play out, as those who are quick to point out Joe Borchard and Brian Anderson will say.

The Sox still need organizational depth in the middle infield, and given the volatile nature of pitching prospects, there's no such thing as too many arms in a farm system. But most of all, the Sox just need good players developing in the minor leagues.

If all goes right, Hawkins will fill that need.

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia will both return to the White Sox in 2017.

The team announced it reached deals with both players shortly before Friday’s 7 p.m. CST nontender deadline. Lawrie will earn $3.5 million next season and Garcia received a one-year deal for $3 million.

The club didn’t tender a contract to right-handed pitcher Blake Smith, which leaves its 40-man roster at 38.

Acquired last December for a pair of minor leaguers, Lawrie hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 36 RBIs in 94 games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

Lawrie produced 0.9 f-WAR when he suffered what then-manager Robin Ventura described a “tricky” injury on July 21. Despite numerous tests and a lengthy rehab, Lawrie never returned to the field and was frustrated by the experience. Last month, Lawrie tweeted that he believes the cause of his injury was wearing orthotics for the first time in his career.

He was projected to earn $5.1 million, according to MLBTraderumors.com and earned $4.125 million in 2016.

Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 453 plate appearances over 120 games. The projected salary for Garcia, arb-eligible for the first time, was $3.4 million.

The team also offered contracts to Miguel Gonzalez and Todd Frazier, who are eligible for free agency in 2018, first baseman Jose Abreu and relievers Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, among others.

The White Sox have until mid-January to reach an agreement with their arbitration-eligible players. If they haven’t, both sides submit figures for arbitration cases, which are then heard throughout February.

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

Crain's Chicago Business released its latest 40 under 40 project and White Sox announcer Jason Benetti made this year's list.

The 33-year-old just finished his first season with the White Sox as play-by-play announcer, working the home games at U.S. Cellular Field (before it was renamed Guaranteed Rate Field last month) alongside Steve Stone as longtime broadcaster Hawk Harrelson saw his workload reduced to mostly road games.

Benetti quickly became a fan favorite among Chicagoans on CSN and other networks in 2016 and his cerebral palsy became more of a backstory, with his work alongside Stone and his affable sense of humor taking center stage instead.

Among other topics, Benetti discussed how he approaches his job of broadcasting for the team he grew up rooting for:

Law school taught me that there are always two sides of the argument. I see it from the Sox prism, but I can’t believe in my heart of hearts that, if the Sox lose, the world’s over anymore. That first game, I was like, “All right, it’s just a game.” And then Avi Garcia hits a homer late in the game against the Indians and I call it like I would call it with a little more. And as the ball cleared the fence, when it was rolling around, I got a slight tear in my eye. And I was like, “What’s that?”

Check out the entire interview with Benetti and the full list at ChicagoBusiness.com.