MINNEAPOLIS — Mike Shirley is fascinated to see how the Major League Baseball draft unfolds.
“In all my years of doing this when you’re left out of the eight or nine picks, I think you have no idea what’s going to happen,” the Chicago White Sox director of amateur scouting said during an interview on Friday. Zoom. “In my history, I don’t think we’ve had to work on so many players that could possibly be there at 26.”
That’s when the Sox are qualified for the first round of the draft, which begins on Sunday.
Will the Sox aim to fill a need, or will they target the best available player in that spot?
“It’s definitely a combination,” Shirley said. “Something that I think every major league team in every room is trying to figure out (is) the pitching landscape, the biggest thing, and then you have to weigh those position players against that. At the end of the day, the preference may be a pitcher, but that doesn’t mean that if the right position player is available, we won’t go that route.”
The strength of this year’s draft, according to Shirley, is the college position player.
“Especially at the top,” Shirley said. “The position player as a whole, even if you look at your board like you’re building a board nonstop, there are a lot of position players that we really like in this draft.
“It’s a light pitching draft overall, and I think we’re all trying to figure out what pitching looks like.”
Shirley is in his third season in the role after being promoted in September 2019. Prior to that, he was assistant to the team’s scouting director after serving as a cross-checker from 2010 to 2018. He was a full-time scout at Middle West from 2004 to 2009 after joining the Sox as a part-time scout before the 2000 season.
Two years ago, the Sox selected pitcher Garrett Crochet at No. 11. Crochet joined the major league team in September and was a valuable reliever last season. It’s out this season after undergo Tommy John surgery in spring training.
Last year, the Red Sox drafted shortstop Colson Montgomery with the 22nd pick. Montgomery entered Friday riding a 48-game on-base streak. He had made it safely through all 16 games with Class A Winston-Salem after being promoted from Class A Kannapolis on June 24.
“Crochet is an extreme talent,” Shirley said. “We are very happy with what Garrett is going to bring us, what he has brought us, what he will continue to bring. (2020 second round pick) Jared Kelley has a significant lead and will be a good starter for us. He is beginning to understand the process of it.
“I really believe in Colson. And a lot of people thought we were taking a chance on Colson, but knowing the person, the ability, the projection, I think it showed us, myself at least, what Colson was. I feel like the group did a great job of understanding Colson. We work very hard to understand Colson. And I think we got it right at this point. A lot of things can change, but Colson is doing some special things there. I think that’s how he is.”
The Sox are looking at the possibilities for Sunday.
“We just walked out of the room and (we’ve had) the seamless navigation of what it would look like, who might be there, the availability of some players that you don’t expect,” Shirley said. “For example, (it’s a) lighter pitching draft, what if there’s a race on pitchers? A position player you didn’t think was going to be there, what if he’s available?
“There are so many scenarios that are being worked on.”
Eloy Jiménez did not start for the second consecutive game while recovering from tightness in the right leg.
“I feel better now than (Thursday),” Jimenez said before Friday’s game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. “The same pain (that led to a pause in his rehabilitation task while with Triple-A Charlotte). But now I am going to heal faster because I feel so much better on my second day. I’m already swinging. And when it happened early on (in Charlotte), I couldn’t even swing the first day or the second day. And (on Friday) I feel much better.”
Manager Tony La Russa said Jimenez is unlikely to play this weekend.
“I don’t see it,” La Russa said. “You get on base, you have to run. I saw him hit the cages. I don’t think you can push him. Unless he’s a pinch hitter, you never know. Bases loaded with two outs.
Receiver Yasmani Grandal (low back spasms)) is 8-for-17 with a home run, four RBIs and nine walks in six rehab games between Double-A Birmingham and Charlotte.
“He’s taking his at-bats,” La Russa said. He is starting to catch some. I don’t know if they have given him a deadline to return, but playing is a good sign”.