Chicago White Sox: Courtney Hawkins

White Sox's draft focus has narrowed

June, 4, 2014
Jun 4
1:33
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- With Thursday's Major League Baseball first-year player draft fast approaching, Chicago White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams tried to play it coy when it came to the club's first-round pick.

[+] EnlargeTyler Kolek
Mike Janes/Four Seam Images/AP ImagesESPN Insider Keith Law has the White Sox selecting high school pitcher Tyler Kolek with the third pick in the draft on Thursday.
Three highly regarded pitchers are available in Carlos Rondon, Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek, so speculation is strong that the White Sox will take a pitcher with the No. 3 overall selection. Just don't expect Williams to tip his hand.

"Who said we're going to take a pitcher?" Williams said.

Shortstop Nick Gordon has plenty of intrigue. Think of his brother, Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon, with a stronger build. A bat the caliber of California high schooler Alex Jackson also would be tempting. Jackson is a catcher who is expected to convert to the outfield as a professional.

White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann was a little more forthcoming when it came to the team's plans.

"I could probably sit here and say right now that more than likely we're going to probably end up with a pitcher," Laumann said. "We've got pretty much the group narrowed down to five or six guys, one of which is a position player. The other five are pitchers. So I'm fairly confident that we're going to end up with a real nice arm."

A major influence on this draft for the White Sox is the presence of slugging first baseman Jose Abreu, and to a lesser extent outfielder Avisail Garcia. In both players, the White Sox know they have the middle of the order set for some time, so drafting in that area is not the biggest priority in the first round.

The White Sox believe they could be ready to make some serious noise in the coming years, so don't be surprised to see the club use the first pick on a college pitcher who can rise quickly over a high school talent with slightly more upside.

In the minor league system, guys such as second baseman Micah Johnson, third baseman Matt Davidson and outfielder Courtney Hawkins are coming. Right-handed starter Chris Beck, currently with a 3.72 ERA in 12 starts at Double-A Birmingham, has major league ability written all over him.

Another right-handed starter figures to intrigue the White Sox because lefties such as Chris Sale and Jose Quintana will be around for some time. And lefty John Danks is locked in through 2016.

The lefty situation is expected get the White Sox to look long and hard at LSU right-hander Aaron Nola, widely believed to be the player who can rise quickest after Thursday's draft is completed.

Are the White Sox weighing college pitchers over those from high school?

"I don't know that we're leaning one way or the other," Laumann said. "You certainly look at the history. You've got a little more history in terms of their arm, whether or not they've made it through the three years of college without getting hurt and things like that. At the same time the competition level and arrival time to the big leagues certainly makes a difference.

"When you look at who might have the highest ceiling, and you look at certain kids that might be 17, 18 years old and still look like they have the ability to even get better, then it's kind of a hard weighing act to go ahead weigh one against the other. And I don't think we have a preference for one or the other."

[+] EnlargeAaron Nola
John Korduner/Icon SMILSU right-hander Aaron Nola could get to the major leagues quickly.
General manager Rick Hahn mapped out the team's plan to spend upward of $10 million for young talent in Thursday's draft and another $4 million to $4.5 million on international talent over the next two months. The minor league system will get as big of a talent influx as it has received in some time.

Despite the increased spending, though, the White Sox still intend to proceed with caution. But when it matters, they have been known to dig deeper than expected. When they drafted Sale in 2010, the club knew that his price tag was higher than they were comfortable spending, but they spent big anyway and now have a staff ace on their hands.

"Signability in every draft is a factor that you have to at least weigh, but it has not been, nor will it continue to be, a deterrent for us to make a choice when we feel it's the best guy and Chris is the perfect example of that," Hahn said.

The signing of Abreu this winter, along with trades for Garcia, Davidson and Adam Eaton, were the high-profile changes to the team. Thursday's additions will be no less important, they just might need some time to realize themselves.

"We're really now entering a six-to-eight-week period where conceivably we are adding $15 million of amateur talent to the organization, which will be a huge shot in the arm for the system while also moving the organization toward where we want it to be," Hahn said.

Civil rights take center stage

August, 24, 2013
8/24/13
8:25
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The first pitch Saturday kicked off Major League Baseball’s annual Civil Rights Game, but the event was more about the events that occurred leading up to the contest between the Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers.

Bo Jackson and Aretha Franklin were given the MLB Beacon of Change Award before the game. Jackson was on hand to receive his, while former major leaguer Willie Horton accepted for Franklin.

There was a roundtable discussion Friday on baseball and civil rights, followed by Saturday's Beacon Awards luncheon to honor those who "embody the spirit of the civil rights movement."

Sharing in the honorary first-pitch duties Saturday were former Negro Leagues pitcher Ernie Westfield, former Negro Leagues player and White Sox legend Minnie Minoso, Sharon Robinson, who is the daughter of Jackie Robinson, and Larry Doby Jr., son of Hall of Famer Larry Doby. White Sox assistant hitting coach Harold Baines caught the first pitch.

“A lot of this is paying tribute to the guys who came before us,” said Baines, one of two African-Americans on the White Sox coaching staff, along with Daryl Boston. “They should never be forgotten.”

According to a White Sox release, “The Civil Rights Game will pay tribute to all those who fought on and off the field for equal rights for all Americans. The game, along with the ancillary events, allows MLB to pay tribute to all of those who have fought and continue to fight injustice.”

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OF prospects go from strength to question

August, 15, 2013
8/15/13
5:30
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Courtney HawkinsBrian Westerholt/Four Seam Images via AP ImagesCourtney Hawkins, the White Sox's first-round pick in 2012, is batting .191 with a .259 on-base percentage for Single-A Winston Salem.
CHICAGO -- The outfield was supposed to be an area of strength in the Chicago White Sox farm system, yet it ended up being the area the club addressed with improvements this year.

This spring, the White Sox were the envy of every club void of rising young outfield stars, boasting prospects like Jared Mitchell, Keenyn Walker, Trayce Thompson and Baseball America's No. 1 overall prospect in the organization, Courtney Hawkins.

The issues started with Mitchell and that was an alarming sign since he was supposed to lead the train of young outfielders into U.S. Cellular Field over successive seasons.

Struggles at Triple-A Charlotte, combined with an oblique injury, earned Mitchell a ticket back to Double-A Birmingham, where he has failed to get on track. In 74 games on two levels, Mitchell has batted just .172 with a .302 on-base percentage and a .268 slugging percentage. He has also struck out 100 times compared to 43 hits.

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Sox's Boston to bridge OF generations

November, 27, 2012
11/27/12
3:27
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- One of the Chicago White Sox’s new major league coaches had a message for all the high-level outfield prospects in the system: It’s your turn to get here now.

The White Sox not only named Daryl Boston the team’s new first-base coach, he will also coach the outfielders. Those duties were previously held by Harold Baines, who will now serve as the assistant hitting coach to Jeff Manto.

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Top pick Hawkins enjoys first day at Cell

June, 18, 2012
6/18/12
9:42
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox first-round draft pick Courtney Hawkins could have done a back flip after the day he had at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday.

But, of course, Hawkins’ days of back flips are over per the instruction of White Sox general manager Ken Williams. Despite the one limitation, Hawkins was given open reign at the ballpark Monday in his first official day as a White Sox player.

[+] EnlargeCourtney Hawkins
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastTop White Sox draft pick Courtney Hawkins took batting practice before Monday's Cubs-Sox game.
“Oh man, it’s been crazy,” Hawkins said during the Cubs-White Sox game.

Hawkins, who was joined by his parents, began with his day with a press conference to sign his pro contract. He and Williams took questions from the media afterward.

Hawkins then went to the White Sox clubhouse, was given a uniform and had a locker for the day next to reliever Matt Thornton. He later stretched with the team, played catch and took batting practice, which included hitting a few balls into the bleachers.

White Sox third baseman Orlando Hudson messed around with Hawkins at the batting cage.

“Orlando had some words for me taking a couple extra swings, but it was fun,” Hawkins said. “[He said] basically, ‘You’re a rookie and don’t be taking my cuts.’ ”

Hawkins made sure to seek out Adam Dunn.

“I’m really close with Brooks Kieschnick, and he actually told me to talk to Adam Dunn because he was fun and crazy,” Hawkins said. “He was right. He gave me a big hug.”

Hawkins also met former White Sox star Frank Thomas and former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen, who along with Hawkins threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

“[Pippen] basically said, ‘Work hard, get here, it’s a fun city,’ ” Hawkins said. “I’m going to do that the best I can.

“This is the ultimate goal of course. This is where every kid dreams on being. I’ll just go out every day, play ball and do the best I can and be here as soon as possible.”

Hawkins will fly out to Bristol, Va. on Tuesday morning and will join the Bristol White Sox for their season opener.

Hawkins said there wasn’t just one moment that would stand out from Monday, but he had been especially impressed by the love he had received from White Sox fans.

“That’s one thing I do have to say, White Sox fans are really loyal,” Hawkins said. “They’re excited to have me. That felt good to know they supported me already, and they love their White Sox.”

Drafting prep player a change for Sox

June, 4, 2012
6/04/12
10:41
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago White Sox’s choice of high school outfielder Courtney Hawkins is a departure from their most recent drafting policy of taking the best college player available. That philosophy was a part of an overall approach that put need at the major league level above player development in the most conventional of ways.

It is not a coincidence that general manager Kenny Williams’ first year as the top baseball executive and the college-player draft mentality came hand-in-hand. That thought process has served the team really well in recent drafts with former No. 1 picks Gordon Beckham and Chris Sale now important pieces of the major league team after short minor-league tenures.

The Sox have not drafted a high school player since 2001 when they picked left-handed pitcher Kris Honel out of Providence Catholic High School (Illinois). Honel never made it to the major leagues -- in fact of all the White Sox’s No. 1 picks that came out of high school the only impact players have been Harold Baines (1977), Steve Trout (1976), Carlos May (1966) and Ron Karkovice (1982).

That list includes two outfielders, one catcher and one pitcher. This gives you an idea why many major league clubs do not want to roll the dice on developing a player out of high school, due to the four- to six-year process .

One driving force for the White Sox’s change of philosophy is the new draft language in the CBA. The new rules put limits on how much money the clubs can spend for the first time since the draft was instituted in 1965. If teams go over their slotted allotments they are subject to tariffs up to 100 percent on a dollar and loss of future high draft picks.

For a team like the White Sox, who have spent the least amount of money in the draft over the last three years, (under 10 million total), this was the right time to build through their farm system rather than trying to retool every season with new players.

Hawkins’ makeup and raw power remind some of Frank Thomas, the greatest hitter in franchise history. One can only hope that Hawkins’ maturation is as quick as the Big Hurt, who was drafted in June of 1989 and was in the major leagues by July of 1990.

Sox select OF Courtney Hawkins

June, 4, 2012
6/04/12
7:39
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com
The Chicago White Sox selected high school outfielder Courtney Hawkins with the No. 13 overall pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft on Monday.

Hawkins, who is 6-2 and 210 pounds, attends Carroll High School in Corpus Christi, Tex. He was the Texas Gatorade Player of the Year. He is signed with Texas.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jose Abreu
BA HR RBI R
.317 36 107 80
OTHER LEADERS
HRJ. Abreu 36
RBIJ. Abreu 107
RA. Ramirez 82
OPSJ. Abreu .964
WC. Sale 12
ERAC. Sale 2.17
SOC. Sale 208