By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) — The two Chicago baseball teams have something in common other than the city they play in. Both clubs are hoping to find a dominant young pitcher in their draft slot.
The White Sox will pick third when Thursday’s amateur draft starts at 6 p.m., and the Cubs select fourth. The draft will be broadcast live on MLB Network.
White Sox director of scouting Doug Laumann was direct in his assessment of his club’s needs.
“We are going to take a pitcher,” he said over the weekend. “There is very good talent at the top of this draft and we are intent is to take one who is available on the top of our sheet.”
The top three pitchers in the draft are left-hander Brady Aiken, right-hander Tyler Kolek and left-hander Carlos Rodon. Aiken and Kolek are high school pitchers. Rodon is a college pitcher from North Carolina State. The White Sox are hoping Rodon is available when they choose third, according to major league sources. The Cubs would take Kolek if he drops to fourth, according to industry insider.
Theo Epstein has been consistent in his drafting philosophy. The Cubs will draft the best player available on their board. As an example, the Cubs picked second in the draft in 2013. After college pitcher Mark Appel was taken first by Houston, the Cubs chose third baseman Kris Bryant. Appel was No.1 on the Cubs’ draft list and Bryant was No. 2. They didn’t reach for another pitcher.
This year, some media outlets have the Cubs drafting outfielder Michael Conforto, a quality left-handed hitter who played at Oregon State.
“Last year if you were sitting fourth, you had a pretty good idea who would be available after the first three teams picked,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “This year, I don’t get that sense. Maybe by (Thursday) mid -day we will have a better sense.”
The White Sox have had good luck drafting college pitchers. Lefty ace Chris Sale was the team’s first-round pick in 2010 (13th overall).
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.