White Sox and Cubs Add to Their Strengths in the Draft

 Photo by Will Hartman/MidwayMadness.com

Photo by Will Hartman/MidwayMadness.com

Baseball in Chicago has been very constant over the past decade. Ever since the White Sox emerged from the depths of the city to win a World Series title in 2005, both teams have been basically dormant. Not only have they been dormant, but their lack of success have also been very similar. They both made the playoffs in 2008, didn’t make it past the first round, and have not been back to the post-season since.

Here we are about a third of the way into the 2015 season, and although the level of success is once again just about the same on both sides of the city (3.5 game difference in the standings), the makeup of each team is completely different.

The White Sox are a team built on pitching, and the Cubs are a team built on hitting; and it’s been this way for years. Each team has spent high draft picks on such strengths over the past half-decade. The White Sox selected Chris Sale with their first-round draft pick in 2010 and he has turned out to be one of the most dominant pitchers in the game ever since his near-immediate call-up. The Sox also invested a first-round pick on a starting pitcher in 2014 with the selection of Carlos Rodon. Sale, Rodon, and the fellow home-grown Jose Quintana all figure to be staples in the team’s starting rotation for years to come.

The Cubs, on the other hand, have invested numerous high draft picks on position players from Javier Baez in 2011, to Albert Almora in 2012, to Kris Bryant in 2013. Throw in the trade for Anthony Rizzo and the free agent signing of Jorge Soler, and this team appears to be set for years to come in the field and at the plate.

Heading into this week’s draft,  most fans would have figured that both teams would try to balance out their lineup of prospects. Considering the White Sox are loaded with young pitching talent, most people probably would have figured that the Sox would spend their first round draft pick on a position player; and vise versa for the Cubs.

Things did not turn out that way on Monday.

The Sox selected right-handed pitcher Carson Fulmer out of Vanderbilt with the 8th overall pick, and the Cubs selected outfielder Ian Happ from the University of Cincinnati with the 9th pick.

The MLB.com scouting report for each player is as follows:

Carson Fullmer

“Fulmer helped key Vanderbilt’s run to its first College World Series title when he moved from closer to starter last April, not allowing a run in his first 29 2/3 innings in his new role. He has excelled again in 2015, as he was college baseball’s hottest pitcher down the stretch and the Southeastern Conference pitcher of the year. Fulmer has an electric arm that delivers 93-97-mph fastballs and power breaking balls. His changeup is an effective third pitch and coaches and scouts alike rave about his competitive makeup. Some scouts think he’d be best off channeling his energy into becoming a closer because he lacks size, his delivery features effort and his control can get wobbly at times. A 15th-round pick by the Red Sox from a Florida high school in 2012, Fulmer would have gone in the top five rounds had he been signable. Now he’s one of three Commodores who figure to go early in the first round in 2015, joining Walker Buehler and Dansby Swanson.”

Ian Happ

“An unheralded recruit from a Pittsburgh-area high school, Happ almost certainly will become the highest-drafted player in Cincinnati history. The Bearcats never have had a player taken in the top two rounds, not even when big leaguers Kevin Youkilis, Josh Harrison and Tony Campana came through the program in the 2000s. Happ ranked as the top position prospect in the prestigious Cape Cod League in each of his two summers in college. A switch-hitter who’s better from the left side of the plate, he has good balance and controls the strike zone well. Add in some deceptive strength, and he should hit for average and power. Happ played mostly second base in 2013 and does have solid speed and arm strength, so a pro team could try him in the infield. But he lacks smooth infield actions, hasn’t played regularly on the dirt since his freshman year and fits best on an outfield corner.”

Maybe both the Sox and the Cubs have plans to bolster their weaknesses through free agency, or maybe they plan to make some trades in the near future. But one thing is for certain: both teams are equipped with a strength that they can rely on for years to come.