3 takeaways from the Chicago White Sox’s 2023 MLB draft, including how Downers Grove North’s George Wolkow stood out

14 July 2023

The 2023 Major League Baseball draft for the Chicago White Sox included players spanning the globe from Downers Grove to Pineuilh, France and Osaka, Japan.

The Sox selected 10 pitchers (seven right-handers and three left-handers), five infielders, three outfielders and two catchers.

Sox director of amateur scouting Mike Shirley mentioned the “security of some of the skills of some of the guys we drafted on the first day” as a highlight while talking with reporters in a conference call Tuesday.

Here are three takeaways from the three-day draft.

1. The Sox were thrilled to get Jacob Gonzalez at No. 15.

Jacob Gonzalez is from Glendora, Calif., and grew up rooting for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Gonzalez said he’s visited Camelback Ranch — the spring training home in Glendale, Ariz., for both the Dodgers and Sox — “my whole life.”

That was his most immediate connection with the Sox until Sunday when they selected the Mississippi shortstop with the No. 15 pick.

“I think Jacob Gonzalez is a real player,” Shirley said. “He does so many great things. You’re talking about a guy who was a Freshman Player of the Year (by D1Baseball) in college, he won a national championship his sophomore year and he’s a first-round draft pick his junior year.”

Gonzalez slashed .319/.427/.561 with 43 doubles, four triples, 40 home runs, 158 RBIs and 186 runs in 186 games during three seasons with the Rebels.

“He’s a left-handed hitter who walks more than he strikes out,” Shirley said. “He gets the power, he’s got plus instincts. I’m excited about what Jacob brings to the table.”

2. Downers Grove North product George Wolkow’s power stands out.

Downers Grove North High School’s George Wolkow is 6-foot-7. That’s not all that stood out to the Sox.

“The power is unbelievable,” Shirley said. “The power is significant.”

The Sox selected the outfielder in the seventh round on Monday.

“Remember, he’s 17, 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, so his body is still maturing,” Shirley said. “George has significant tools. … You’re talking about a kid who’s taking a huge risk in life, he graduated high school early and took a significant amount of money from a professional baseball team to jump in a career really quick in his life.

“Sometimes when you think about the makeup of people, the ability to take on risk, manage risk and feel good about it, that says a lot about his character.”

3. Japan and France were represented in the 11th and 12th rounds.

California, Texas, Florida and North Carolina are a few of the states where some of the Sox picks have their hometowns.

The Sox also selected Oregon second baseman Rikuu Nishida, who is from Osaka, Japan and Cochise (Ariz.) College right-handed pitcher Mathias LaCombe, who is from Pineuilh, France.

Nishida set single-season school records at Oregon with 25 stolen bases and 67 runs in 2023.

“You can’t take your eyes off the guy when he’s on the field,” Shirley said. “That alone, and his skill set and his talent, it’s real. We thought it was important enough to take him in the 11th round because I think he’s going to get on base, he’s going to steal bases, he bunts, he slashes, he can hit.”

Nishida earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 Conference honors after batting .312 with five home runs and 37 RBIs.

Shirley also pointed to his success in the Cape Cod League, where he hit .291 with three doubles, 11 RBIs, 25 runs and a league-leading 28 stolen bases in 2022.

“It was significant what he was doing in a wood bat league to give you some validation without the aluminum bat in his hands,” Shirley said.

The Sox selected Nishida in the 11th round. They picked LaCombe in the 12th.

“He’s not short on talent, 93-95 (mph) with a real breaking ball,” Shirley said of LaCombe. “This guy is a real piece of the puzzle. The guy has a bunch of energy, he loves to pitch. We think there’s untapped potential here, as well.”

Here’s a breakdown of the Sox selections in the 2023 MLB draft:

Round 1, No. 15 (bonus slot value $4,488,600): SS Jacob Gonzalez, Mississippi
Round 2, No. 51: RHP Grant Taylor, LSU
Round 3, No. 84: RHP Seth Keener, Wake Forest
Round 4, No. 116: C Calvin Harris, Mississippi
Round 5, No. 152: LHP Christian Oppor, Gulf Coast (Fla.) CC
Round 6, No. 179: LHP Lucas Gordon, Texas
Round 7, No. 209: OF George Wolkow, Downers Grove North HS
Round 8, No. 239: OF Eddie Park, Stanford
Round 9, No. 269: RHP Jake Peppers, Jacksonville State
Round 10, No: 299: RHP Zach Franklin, Missouri
Round 11, No. 329: 2B Rikuu Nishida, Oregon
Round 12, No. 359: RHP Mathias LaCombe, Cochise (Ariz.) College
Round 13, No. 389: 3B Ryan Galanie, Wofford (S.C.) College
Round 14, No. 419: 2B Edrick Felix, Florida Gulf Coast
Round 15, No. 449: RHP Carlton Perkins, Cowley County (Kan.) CC
Round 16, No. 479: C Weston Eberly, Columbia
Round 17, No. 509: IF Mikey Kane, Oregon State
Round 18, No. 539: LHP Anthony Imhoff, Pima (Ariz.) CC
Round 19, No. 569: OF Caden Connor, Cal State Fullerton
Round 20, No. 599: RHP Garrett Wright, TCU


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