2019 MLB Draft Notes: Abrams, Vaughn, and pitching options for second round

(Steven Silva)

We’ll be keeping tabs on the various Mock Drafts that are released this month in future posts on Sox Machine, but the one I pay attention to the most is MLBPipeline. Jim Callis has been covering the MLB Draft for more than 25+ years and has a great relationship with the White Sox brass. If he mocks a player to the White Sox, it’s a credible target. Plus, in-person reports are seeing the White Sox in big numbers watching Abrams in late April.

That’s why on Friday when Callis mocked high school shortstop CJ Abrams to the White Sox, it was a refreshing surprise. The assumption has been that Baltimore, Kansas City, and the White Sox were already locked in with the first three picks going Adley Rutschman, Bobby Witt Jr., and Andrew Vaughn. Not that there would be anything wrong with the Sox drafting Vaughn as I wrote in my draft profile he fills the need for more power in the lineup plus man first baseman after Jose Abreu leaves.

Before this weekend’s series when Rick Hahn dropped the bad news about Carlos Rodon’s throwing arm, he also talked about Tim Anderson after winning American League Player of the Month honors and how the team could benefit having 25 Anderson-like players.

Well, CJ Abrams is a Tim Anderson-like player. Raw, toolsy shortstop whose athleticism is second-to-none. That’s the short preview of a more extended draft profile that will be coming soon on this site, but it does give us something else to pay attention climbing closer to June’s draft.

Other draft notes:

Cal baseball has won six of their last seven games which is helping boost their chances of making Regionals for the first time with Andrew Vaughn. They’ve already won the series against Utah without needing a lot of help from Vaughn. The Utes have neutralized Vaughn in the first two games holding him to 1-for-7 with a double, three walks, and two strikeouts. Overall in Pac-12 competition, Vaughn has picked up his performance in conference play hitting .301/.453/.466 even as teams are still trying to stay away from attacking him.

After the news about Rodon, I was asked about if the White Sox would think about drafting Nick Lodolo with pick three. Well, if the last month is any indication of Lodolo’s profile, I’ll say no. On Friday night featured what many believe is the two best college starters in this draft: Lodolo, and West Virginia’s Alek Manoah.

Lodolo allowed a single, a double, and a home run to the first three batters. Down 3-0, the silver lining is Lodolo overcame that miserable start. He only allowed two more hits and no further damage with a line of 6 IP 5 H 3 ER 2 BB 9 K throwing 108 pitches. Lodolo pitched better than Manoah, who coughed up the early lead in the sixth allowing four earned runs over six innings of work striking out only five while walking four in 120 pitches. West Virginia would allow 10 runs in the seventh inning to make it a laugher late, but Lodolo looked better than Manoah.

That doesn’t mean that Lodolo will be the first starting pitcher taken in next month’s draft. Kentucky LHP Zack Thompson has been impressive in SEC play. If you remember the preseason 2019 Draft post, Thompson was in my top three college starting pitchers list but had a red flag with a significant injury last season.

Well, in seven SEC starts, Thompson’s conference line is 49 IP 30 H 8 ER 17 BB 65 K. He pitched a masterpiece complete game shutout against Georgia on March 29 striking out 13 batters. It’ll be interesting if Thompson can keep this pace up because if he can, I wouldn’t be shocked if he leaps Lodolo on some draft boards.

While I do think the White Sox will take a position player in the first round, they can address pitching in the second and third rounds as I see some fits at pick 45 and 81.

For the second round, I’m paying close attention to Rice University RHP Matt Canterino. Watching his start on Friday against Western Kentucky, Canterino was hitting 94 mph consistently with his fastball which pairs nicely with a sharp curveball used as his strikeout pitch.

Western Kentucky finally figured out Canterino in the seventh inning scoring two runs, but it was an excellent performance going 7 IP 6 H 2 ER 2 BB 11 K. For the season, Canterino has a 2.68 ERA with a 23.15 K% and 3.82 BB%.

Closer to pick 81 there are three pitchers to keep on eye on:

  1. Drey Jameson – Ball State
  2. Isaiah Campbell  – Arkansas
  3. John Doxalis – Texas A&M
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lil jimmy

Abrams is my favorite, (other than Adley) His game is way more advanced than Timmy’s was when he was drafted. He also plays a credible Center Field.

A pitcher at #45 that they are in great position on is Spencer Jones. LHP.HS, Throws upper 90’s.
6’7″ two way player.
He would have been long gone but for a fractured elbow. He’ll require 2 million plus to sign, but that would be doable.(slot value 1,650,200) He’s also a classic Right Field type. Big arm, runs like a deer, and hit’s moon shots into the night.


Agree on Abrams. Been my favorite since last fall. Not going to let myself get too hyped on the rumors, though.
+ Vaughn has been red hot. (.437 over last 12 games)
Hope the Sox go position player the first 3 rounds. This draft is built for that.
Next year looks to have the the arms, and this team will earn another top 5 pick.


My problem with Abrams is his swing. I dont think its whether he grows into power, but whether his hit tool is still as strong once he has to stay back and use his lower half and core on his swing.

Right now he is slashing, hands forward and use his legs for slug. He doesnt stay behind his swing and drive the ball. That’s before you get to whether he can stay in the dirt. Think hes in Vaghns tier and still hoping Witt falls.


Interesting. I’m far more concerned about Witt’s swing than CJ’s. To me, his lower half is a mess. What do you see that makes you prefer him?


I get the concern with Witt’s back leg. But he he just has the ridiculous tools to still perform and drive the ball with less then stellar technique. Similar to a loose delivery, I think it’s something that will just get cleaned up when you have BP and play everyday in the minors with professional coaches.

His tools are present and I think projecting Abram for growth and mechanical improvements as well is a bigger gamble.


Makes sense. And it were any other team, I’d probably also prefer Witt. But I believe Abrams’ present eye and bat to ball skills offer the best hope for a Sox’ development to not screw up. Although Rutherford’s physical growth failing to augment his hit tool does give me pause.


Yeah, I get that. It’s just at a top 3 overall pick I’m disappointed no other player really tore it up and jumped into this group with higher upside.

Hopefully their last pick this high for a while

lil jimmy

There a nice video of him talking about his approach to hitting. Posted by Perfect game just last month .It’s worth a look.” Short to it, long threw it.”

Jim Margalus

From MLB.com’s scouting report:

“He might fit better at second base or center field, and he played the latter position in deference to Bobby Witt Jr. on Team USA at the 18-and-under Pan American Championships in Panama last fall.

lil jimmy

“if we had 25 guys in that clubhouse that approach the game like Tim Anderson does”
One player who doesn’t fit this description, Andrew Vaughn.


That’s why on Friday when Callis mocked high school shortstop CJ Abrams to the White Sox, it was a refreshing surprise.

I read this as Callis ridiculing Abrams, and wondered why he would do that.


I interpreted Hahn’s comment as referring to Tim Anderson’s leadership and competitiveness over the raw and toolsy profile.

How does Abrams compare to Madrigal? I know his arm is better but have seen some mentions of a not of power but barrels consistently. Madrigal supposedly barrels consistently but it doesn’t seem that always translates to exit velocity and hitting the ball hard.


I think Timmay is a better comp than Madrigal. Abrams has many of the same defensive questions Tim had.(SS or CF)
CJ is superior in every category except power. He could grow into more pop, or his bat to ball skills + juiced ML ball could close some of that gap.


Thanks, that helps! I’m intrigued to see what they’ll do. And should Witt and Abrams both be there at 3… if they still go Abrams?


Fangraphs seems convinced he’s already developed beyond that comp. Hope they’re right. Just happy to be talking about him as a realistic possibility.


.444 over his last 13 games.


I don’t understand why most people aren’t even looking at Hunter Bishop or Kody Hoese. They both have significantly higher OPS than Vaughn (especially Hoese). They both play a much more premium position than Vaughn (especially Bishop). They are both bigger, faster and in Bishop’s case a lot faster and a left handed bat. Yet for the Sox at #3 they are mostly an afterthought. It doesn’t make sense. I went back and checked and in the last 30 years 1B are very rarely taken top 5. They’re rarely taken top 10. There are a lot of good reasons for that. Vaughn is a excellent NCAA bat but not good enough to justify being taken top 5 as a 1B. I am usually very anti Prep with picks as high as the Sox have but I would even prefer Abrahms over Vaughn.