LOS ANGELES -- The only matter close to certain concerning the White Sox No. 3 pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, beginning Thursday night, is that the club will take a pitcher.
High school sensations Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek have been frequently mentioned as targets of interest for the South Siders, as have collegiate standouts Carlos Rodon and Aaron Nola. Here's a quick synopsis of each hurler, provided by assistant scouting director Nick Hostetler.
Rodon: "He's an aggressive kid," said Hostetler. "He's a tough-nosed kid. I don't know if bulldog is the right word, but he's in charge. When he's on the mound, he takes the ball and he controls the game. He's like that on the field, off the field. He's got a makeup that a manager is going to love running out there every fifth day."
Kolek: "I don't know if we've ever seen anything like it, and there's no database for it," said Hostetler. "You can't find a body comparison. He's one-of-a-kind. The upside is unlimited. People say Nolan Ryan or Roger Clemens. He might be better. His stuff is electric. To walk away from a high school game and say, "Wow," very rarely does that happen. But he's a wow type of guy."
Nola: "This guy just pounds the strike zone to both sides of the plate -- fastball, curveball, changeup is plus," said Hostetler. "Just pitch, pitch, pitch. He has upside. This kid has frontline-starter upside."
Aiken: "He's done a really good job of pitching and commanding his fastball, both sides of the plate," said Hostetler. "His secondary stuff is second to none. It's some of the best in the Draft."
Having both Kolek and Rodon available at No. 3 would present an interesting dilemma for the White Sox. Rodon's family advisor is Scott Boras, but the White Sox have committed to taking the best player available regardless of advisor or experience.
Executive vice president Ken Williams has told the story of selecting Chris Sale 13th overall in 2010 and talking to him about the quicker he got on board with the White Sox, the quicker he could get to the Majors. Sale was working in relief for the White Sox two months later, making his big league debut on Aug. 6, 2010, which is a scenario that could fit Rodon.
Konerko takes stroll down memory lane
LOS ANGELES -- When Paul Konerko played his last game at Dodger Stadium Wednesday night, it wasn't only memories of the storied venue that he took away with him.
Konerko was the 13th overall selection and the Dodgers' first pick in the 1994 First-Year Player Draft and took part in 22 home contests during the 1997 and '98 season, before the Dodgers traded him to the Reds on July 4 for reliever Jeff Shaw. But one of the greatest players in White Sox history, with a work ethic to match his greatness, was assisted in getting to this lofty ending perch by the fundamental base he developed as part of the Dodgers' system.
"I had good Minor League experiences with the organization. Played at every level," said Konerko, whose single as a pinch-hitter Tuesday was career hit No. 2,315. "There's stuff I remember from the Minor Leagues compared to stuff I don't remember from me playing with the White Sox early on.
"You always remember those first, that introduction to pro ball. There's a few people hanging around with the team here that were here when I was there, but not many, not much. The big league side of it, I wasn't here very long. Months. That was that."
As an East Coast kid who grew up in Arizona, Konerko wasn't exactly a die-hard Dodgers fan when he was taken by the team. But under the O'Malley family ownership, Konerko knew their history of developing players, the way they treated players and that he was walking into a "class organization."
Konerko's career began as a catcher, and he joked that he was part of a Cal League championship so he must have done something right.
"Other than that, I remember a lot of failure," said Konerko with a wry smile. "Looking back on it, it was the best move that happened instead of trying to stick that out. It had to do with part performance and part my hips were giving me problems, so it was a combo of both."
It was guidance within the organization from Yakima to Albuquerque that put Konerko on the path to the player he has been over the past two decades.
"My managers in the Minors, Joe Vavra, John Shelby, Ron Roenicke and Glenn Hoffman, I mean big league people at every stop," Konerko said. "I didn't think much of it at the time, but looking back on it, that was a huge thing.
"That's when you are most impressionable, and I had really good guys who were big leaguers in the way they played but also big league people. They were on me at all turns, every turn, to make sure I was doing the right thing. I was lucky to have that."
'Disagreement' leads to Ventura's ejection
LOS ANGELES -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura was ejected for the second time this season and the ninth of his career during the bottom of the eighth inning of Wednesday's 2-1 victory over the Dodgers.
Ventura appeared to not be happy with home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley's balls and strikes calls with reliever Zach Putnam on the mound. When pitching coach Don Cooper came from the dugout to talk to Putnam during Hanley Ramirez's at-bat, Ventura was ejected.
"Just had a disagreement," Ventura said.
The White Sox allowed just one run in the eighth and held on for a one-run victory.
Abreu hits mistakes -- and much more
LOS ANGELES -- There certainly are ways to retire Jose Abreu, as Dodgers pitchers proved in 5-of-8 at-bats over the first two games in this series. But when a pitcher makes even the slightest of mistakes, as Clayton Kershaw did Monday and Dan Haren did Tuesday location-wise, Abreu can hit the ball a long way.
"He's a guy that you can get out if you make pitches, but you better not make mistakes," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Abreu. "It seems like he's quiet, kind of sneaky strong. ... He's smooth up there, so it looks like he just kind of sees the ball. Seems to be legit."
As White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson pointed out, even hitters flirting with .400 make outs and there's always room for improvement. That Abreu improvement comes from figuring out how they are getting him out, learning to combat that and then coming back with a better plan.
"If they get you out, did they get you out or did you get yourself out?" Steverson said. "Once you come to grips with the majority of time I got myself out because that ball was not a strike or [the pitcher's] strike, then I can say, 'OK, they are all going to make a mistake. Maybe not every at-bat, but at some point, they are going to make their mistakes.'
"Through the course of how many thousand pitches you are going to see through the course of the year, you have to be ready for them. He's a little different, because he does like to use the whole field. He goes the other way.
"To make him happier right now, we still will be able to use that base hit to right like he got, or double to right-center. And he's still being able to pull a hanging breaking ball or inside fastball and still be up to dust off some of the pitchers' pitches on two strikes rather than going down. And make better decisions. On that level, there's always room for improvement."
Third to first
• Sidelined by a right hamstring issue, Juan Uribe did not play in this three-game set against the White Sox. However, his time in Chicago always positively resonates with both former teammates and fans.
"Obviously he had an infectious personality," said Konerko, the last player left on the White Sox from 2005, of Uribe. "Mainly for me, he plays the game like a little kid.
"I mean that as a compliment. He just, he goes out and plays and has fun and just plays the game hard. There's no other thing in his way. That's what's I admire about him most for sure. And you don't see too many bad shortstops on World Series champions."
• Adrian Nieto had caught every one of John Danks' starts this season until Tyler Flowers got the call on Wednesday.
"We have a day off tomorrow, and the way he's been swinging the last couple of days, he's felt good about it," said manager Robin Ventura on his decision to start Flowers. "Just keep him in there to continue it."
• White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper studied film of all four pitchers being looked at by the team for pick No. 3 in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft and seemed to like Aiken the best. He pegged Rodon as the most Major Leagued ready, followed closely by Nola, but it was hard to argue how the ball came out of Kolek's hand with his 100-mph stuff.
"After seeing all four guys, I'm not sure we can go wrong. The four guys I saw looked pretty good," Cooper said. "Our poor performance last year has put us in a pretty good position now. Hopefully we can capitalize on it."
"It's an exciting time for our guys who go out and scout and do all the work to be able to have a pick right there," Ventura said. "But from where I'm sitting, I don't want them to ever have that high of a pick any more."