All aboard: White Sox finish signing 2020 MLB Draft class

Jared Kelley (Josh Nelson)

When we last checked in with the White Sox’s 2020 draft class on the whole, Adisyn Coffey and Kade Mechals had signed for a combined total of $60,000, giving the White Sox plenty of room to maneuver with their other three picks.

Those other three picks are now in the fold, and for the most convenient of amounts.

The White Sox signed first-round pick Garrett Crochet back on Monday for slot value ($4,575,500), and they closed the week by formally announcing the signing of second-rounder Jared Kelley for a nice round number of $3 million.

A couple hours later, Jim Callis broke the news that fifth-rounder Bailey Horn reached a $150,000, under-slot deal to tie up that loose end.

Add it all up, and the White Sox didn’t quite have to max out their bonus pool, coming up $7,300 short.

Garrett Crochet11$4.5475M$4.5475M
Jared Kelley47$1.582M$3M
Adisyn Coffey83$733,100$50,000
Kade Mechals112$517,400$10,000
Bailey Horn142$386,600$150,000

You can’t trade MLB draft picks, but the White Sox did the next-closest thing by signing Kelley for nearly double his slot value, which gave him the bonus of a late first-rounder (No. 22 or No. 23 overall). In terms of how the money was allocated, the Sox basically dealt their second, third, fourth and fifth picks for a first-round pick and a ninth-rounder.

As for Kelley, he can still carry a chip on his shoulder because an extra couple dozen teams bypassed the opportunity to draft him, but he’s no worse for the wear financially. His bonus matches that of Nick Bitsko (24th overall to Tampa Bay), and they’re tied for second among high-school righties behind Mick Abel, who went to Philadelphia for $4.08M.

(Photo of Jared Kelley by Josh Nelson)

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Essentially, the Sox gave up their second, third, fourth and fifth selections to draft Kelley, because the guys they took with their final three picks easily could have been signed as free agents after the draft. Time will tell whether this was a good move. This isn’t quite the same thing as Mike Ditka giving up his entire draft for Ricky Williams, but it is somewhat along those lines.

If Kelley stays healthy and becomes an effective major-league starter, then I guess it’s an OK move. However, shouldn’t a competent organization should be able to draft a future starter in the second through fifth rounds anyhow? Without having to punt on three picks in an abbreviated draft?

John SF

I don’t think you’re being fair to how the talent of a typical draft is allocated between rounds.

Are there amazing pitchers after the first round? Of course. Are they easy to find for a “competent organization?” Not really.

Just as an example, I went and looked at the 2015 class under the assumption we mostly know how those guys are doing at this point.

In the first round, top 30, you’ve got like 10 legit all stars and then another 10 guys with a ton of talent but we’re not sure if they will be able to hang on in the majors yet (like Fulmer) or they are still developing. And then ~10 guys who are probably busts, mostly clustered in the 20-30 range.

In the first round supplemental and 2nd rounds combined (31-70) you’ve got 16 pitchers. Out of those 16, there are three or four back end starters (like true #5s) and a couple prep arms that are still legit prospects of some sort. Which means half the 2nd round pitchers were busts, and only 2 or *maybe* 3 out of 16 will ever put up more than 4 WAR (total) in their careers.

The third round is even more barren, etc.

The Sox took two guys who they valued in the top-15 of the draft, and which most outside scouts valued in the 20-30 range. I think picking two guys at random from picks 21-30 every year will reliably give you better results than drafting 1 random guy at slot from each round. That makes the Sox 2020 approach arguably a more conservative and safe strategy than a traditional draft…*and* it’s a huge upside play at the same time.

The Sox can expect a legit star player from their first round pick about 30% of the time. That’s their track record. Getting two first round picks is a steal, in that context.

The Sox track record rounds 2-5 is no where near that good.


Because there was so much uncertainty around this draft, and each team only had five selections, it might have been better to take a player at slot value in each round. That way, you increase your odds of getting more good players. Seasons were so abbreviated this year, that no one really knows who the top pitchers and players actually were. I hope Kelley turns out to be a star and ends up being worth all of the extra picks.


I’m not a draft ‘guy’ but I don’t think it works like that at all. Even a team like the Cardinals that seem to find guys in the later rounds regularly miss most of their picks.

If Kelly has a FV of 45 presently, with the upside of say a FV 55, most guys in the 2nd round are probably more along the lines of a 40 with upside of 45, maybe even 35 to 40. Now you can play with the odds and find the 5th rounder who turns into a FV of 60, but those are so small that it’s probably safer to do what the Sox did.

If this were a full draft, this probably wouldn’t have been the way to go. But this was a five round draft and the Sox probably missed out on one, maybe two guys with a FV40 and one or two guys with a FV35. Instead they’re coming away with two FV of 45 with some upside at that. Is that better than what the Reds did with one 45, one 40, and three 35?

It’s not apples to apples, but the Sox blew two international periods to sign Robert… was that the right choice? One premium guy at the cost of maybe a average player and two depth guys down the road?


I haven’t followed this closely enough to see if other teams are using this strategy, but please forgive me for having my doubts that a big-market organization without a winning MLB record since 2012 is going to outsmart everybody else.

Again, we’ll see if this works. Much of what the White Sox have done during the past decade has not worked very well, so I am somewhat skeptical.

In regard to the Robert comparison, it’s not exactly the same situation. If I remember correctly, the timing and circumstances somehow all came together to benefit the White Sox. Even though it was widely known that Robert was a great prospect, most big-spending teams did not have the money in their pools at that time to make a competitive offer. It basically came down to the White Sox and Cardinals, with the Sox having a bit more.

In this year’s case, many other teams could have done the same thing as the Sox to get Kelley, but the Sox are the only team that chose to do it. I hope that we look back on this and say that the Sox made the right move.