Next White Sox scouting director will inherit unfinished business

The White Sox have scored one run over the last two games, but they found a way to make nosie off the field by shaking up the upper reaches of their scouting department on Wednesday.

Nick Hostetler is the man in motion, going from director of amateur scouting to special assistant to the general manager whose purview will be major-league scouting.

It’s hard to know what to make of this move, just like it’s hard to know what to make of his time as scouting director. There’s a lot of noise in here. The White Sox added a lot of amateur scouts during his time, but they also drafted higher than ever on a consistent basis. The future of scouting is also as a crossroads since Trackman data is increasingly available at both the minor-league and amateur levels.

Maybe Hostetler is the best set of eyes the White Sox have during a time in the rebuild where the major acquisitions are going to be MLB-ready or MLB-proven. Maybe other teams have an interest in Hostetler, so the Sox gave him a cushier gig where he can get rid of his Oakley tanlines. It’s very much in line with their history of promoting and rewarding from within, although that’s not something that often bears results.

The results of Hostetler’s time as scouting director haven’t been readily apparent either, although it’ll still take a couple years to properly assess his track record.

Hostetler officially took over as scouting director in 2016, although his predecessor Doug Laumann allowed him to handle everything after the first pick of the 2015 draft (Carson Fulmer). The White Sox didn’t have a second- or third-round pick that year due to the signings of Melky Cabrera and David Robertson, so Hostetler lacked the resources that would be available to him in future drafts.

Seby Zavala making the majors from the 12th round appears to be the only accomplishment to date, although 22nd-rounder Danny Mendick is on the cusp of a call-up, and I’d expect to see fifth-rounder Jordan Stephens cracking a 25-man roster at some point in the future, even if he’s now on Cleveland.

Hostetler took over for good in 2016, when he was lauded for picking polished collegiate producers over athletes. The shift in strategy was lauded as the White Sox attempted to get away from swing-and-miss profiles and find “baseball players” instead.

While we can’t make a definitive judgment on the draft classes right now, we can say that it hasn’t resulted in faster development tracks or shortcuts otherwise. Part of it’s bad luck and out of Hostetler’s hands, like Jake Burger rupturing his Achilles tendon twice and Zack Burdi’s Tommy John surgery and perpetual recovery from it. Alec Hansen is also probably a victory for Hostetler and a loss for player development, as he looked like a top-50 prospect after his first full pro season.

But then you have Zack Collins, who didn’t hit like a 10th-overall pick even during his time in A-ball. He was supposed to have first base or DH as a backup plan, but now his future hinges on his glove developing enough to become rosterable.

The Collins pick marked the start of two college-heavy drafts that failed to produce a prospect that slot comfortably in the team’s own top 10 right now. While the White Sox farm system reached new heights during Hostetler’s time as scouting director, the players he drafted had little to do with it, especially after Hansen collapsed.

Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jiménez, Reynaldo López and Lucas Giolito have since graduated, and while picks like Andrew Vaughn and Nick Madrigal have taken two of those spots … well, they were candidates to be selected first overall, so they better be top-five prospects in the organization.

The recent ascents of Gavin Sheets and Jonathan Stiever serve as reminders that these classes can’t be entirely evaluated right now, and the shift to prep-heavier classes the last two seasons offers a pleasant respite from the lack of projectability and up-the-middle athleticism.

Still, little of the White Sox’ cost-controlled talent base is actually homegrown. Madrigal and Vaughn figure to change that, but the farm system isn’t a renewable resource if the White Sox can only matriculate top-four picks or prospects acquired by shedding blue-chip MLB talent, because both of those sources will dry up if and when the Sox start winning. Again, it’s still too early to close the book on the Hostetler era, and maybe when we reevaluate his body of work as scouting director in 2021, we can say he helped build a legitimate talent pipeline. We just can’t say it now.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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evenyoudorn

I can’t ever read anything about the FO without feeling unwell. Rehashing and recalling all the goofiness and lack of accountability is just so draining.

I realize this adds nothing to the discourse but misery loves company.

roke1960

There just isn’t near enough there to develop a perennial contender using homegrown talent. They are going to have spend big and wisely on free agents to successfully complete this rebuild.

Neat_on_the_rocks

Yep, this. Compared to the Cubs its really sad. Outside of Lester and Zobrist they have mostly whiffed hugely on their Free Agents. But they had so much prospect capital they were able to build a championship core from within as well as trade hugely valuable prospects to add big time veterans.

There is no way we’re going to be able to sniff things the like the Chapman and Quintana trades. We’re gonna have to nail it on the Free Agents – and the Org has not done a lot to give us confidence in that.

35Shields

Despite how bad taste that he left the team with, I’d add Montero to that list. He produced 4.8 WAR for the Cubs over a $40m deal (some of which the Jays picked up at the end). He had a great 2015 and by the time he wasn’t performing as well, they already had an internal replacement.

Trooper Galactus

If some of our free agents performed to the level of bad that Heyward has, things might have gone a lot differently.

PauliePaulie

Just more of the same.

joewho112

Off topic, but here is a piece from SI about all the experimenting going on in the Atlantic League https://www.si.com/mlb/2019/07/25/baseball-rule-changes-atlantic-league

mikeyb

Jerry will never fire anyone. So here’s my proposal: swap front offices with the Bulls. Forman, Paxson, and their 4 scouts for Hahn, Kenny, Hostetler, and whatever goofs they’ve got in their 6 man analytics department. If both franchises are gonna putter along as sub-.500 clubs, might as well have some fun with it!

Trooper Galactus

I would not find John Paxson running the White Sox fun.

Neat_on_the_rocks

If the skills magically translated – Paxon’s ability to find average to above average talent in the draft would be a revelation for the Whitesox. We cant land the big free agents anyways so that pitfall would be a non factor.

Trooper Galactus

Yeah, well, the Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade signings indicate he has a similar take on free agency to what we’ve been seeing.

SonOfCron

It looks like that wax sculpture next to TA is melting.

jorgefabregas

Unflattering picture, looks in need of a beard

metasox

When the Sox drafted Collins there was a report they were also very interested in Wisconsin prep shortstop Gavin Lux. Per Fangraphs, Lux is now the #2 Dodgers prospect, FV 60.
If someone was pounding the table to draft Lux over Collins, promote him.

karkovice squad

I wouldn’t go quite that far because the difference in quality between Sox and Dodgers player development programs might be the bigger story. Collins might still have been the better pick for the Sox.

Trooper Galactus

They were interested in Lux with the 26th pick, not the 10th, where he wasn’t even in the discussion. Once Lux came off the board (19th?), I think it was more a choice between Burdi and Dunning, and they went with the guy they thought could help almost immediately.

karkovice squad

The reporting had them interested at 26 but knowing he’d be gone by then because the Dodgers were interested. They were reportedly debating whether to take him at 10 as a result.

lil jimmy

This is what I recall. Although the Dunning part was what the Sox told us once they traded for him.

karkovice squad

BA had a team in the teens giving him a private workout and you even wrote the Sox were serious about maybe taking him at 10.

lil jimmy

I am not going to lie, I liked him better than Collins. I also liked Carter Kieboom, and Alex Kirilloff, and Blake Rutherford.

Trooper Galactus

I mean, you think we’d be used to regretting our draft picks by now.

PauliePaulie

Hostetler repeated several times that if they had the #1 pick, it still would have been Collins.
The Lux rumor was dumb and totally unnecessary pre-draft misdirection.

Also, the rumor they’re interested in Nomar Mazara better be false.

metasox

That sounds like typical draft talk: “we got the guy we really wanted….we couldn’t believe he fell to us…blah, blah, blah”

karkovice squad

Yeah, it’s bizarrely credulous to wholesale accept the team’s after action rationale while simultaneously dismissing the pre-draft reporting as just PR.

Josh Nelson

…except they had Gavin Lux do a private work out at the stadium. There was legit interest.

The White Sox were very interested in Lux with their second first-round pick.

lil jimmy

Lux was a 3rd rounder, then a second rounder, then Comp round. I think he went #22. All in three months time.
I credit the kid. I sure wanted him.

ImmortalTimeTravelMan

If Hostetler is the best set of eyes that the White Sox have today than I’m not very hopeful for the future.

evenyoudorn

So you’re still hung up on this “merit” thing…

ImmortalTimeTravelMan

Drafting Zack Collins = promotion?