The White Sox announced the signing of their first round pick LHP Chris Sale for $1.656 million.
Sale was rated the top college left-hander after Drew Pomerantz in most of the mock drafts shown, but he fell to the White Sox with the 13th pick, probably because he went to a second-tier school, Florida Gulf Coast University.
Florida Gulf Coast did indeed play mostly second-tier schools. When they played top-tier schools, they generally got pounded, unless Sale was pitching. He beat Wichita State 7-2 on March 5, 2010 and Clemson 4-2 on May 1, 2010.
For that matter, Sale beat everyone else too, finishing the year 11-0 with a 2.01 ERA and a line of 103 IP, 83 hits, six HRs and 14 walks allowed with 146 Ks. It is hard not to like those numbers.
However, Jim Callis of Baseball America says Sale fell in the draft due to signability concerns. Strange then that Sale would sign for slot money so quickly.
Sale is the highest drafted player yet to sign. The thinking of Sale’s agents in agreeing to sign for slot money shortly after the Draft is that the White Sox have indicated Sale has a good chance of being promoted to the major league club before the September call-ups.
With the ChiSox having won nine of their last 10 and now in third place, only 5.5 games back of the first-place Twins in the AL Central, they may need a left-handed short man in their bullpen.
If Sale gets off to a good start in the minors, he would be the guy they look to.
Sale is listed as 6’6" and throws with a low, three-quarter arm delivery that is anticipated to be extremely tough on left-handed hitters at any level. Jim Callis reports that the White Sox will start Sale out of the bullpen at Class A Winston-Salem in the Carolina League, and if he pitches the way the Sox are hoping, they will jump him to Triple-A Charlotte in the International League in late July.
After spending the summer as a reliever to give him a chance of making the major league club, the White Sox intend to return him to starting in the Arizona Fall League with the goal of giving him a chance to make the major league team as a starter out of Spring Training in 2011.
Sale probably left a million dollars on the table in terms of signing bonus by not holding out until the August 17, 2010 signing deadline. However, if Sale really is ready to step into a major league job in less than one full season in the minors, then signing for less money now makes sense, because his service time will start sooner.
It’s extremely difficult to project an amateur player, particularly one who did not pitch for one of the nation’s top college programs playing regularly against top college competition. By way of comparison, Stephen Strasburg (San Diego State), Mike Leake (Arizona State) and Drew Storen (Stanford), all of whom were top picks in the 2009 Draft and are now pitching in the majors with success, played against top college competition on a regular basis.
Two things that will help Sale in his quest to make the majors sooner rather than later are his left arm (almost everybody can use another effective left-handed short man) and his exceptional control throughout his college career (51 walks in 228.2 IP, or 2.0 walks per nine innings pitched).
No matter how it turns out for Sale, the White Sox and their fans have to feel pretty good about this signing. Even if he blows out his arm, at least the Sox saved about million bucks.
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