Frank Thomas

Who makes the White Sox' Mt. Rushmore of 1st-round draft picks

Frank Thomas is an obvious choice, but what about the other three?

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First-round draft picks are kind of the thing in Chicago right now. The Blackhawks are set to select phenom prospect Connor Bedard with the No. 1 overall pick on Wednesday night. The Bears turned their No. 1 overall pick into DJ Moore, Darnell Wright and even more picks earlier this year. The way the Cubs and White Sox have played for most of the year, they could be in line for top picks, too. The only team to miss out was the Bulls, because the ping pong balls didn’t fall their way this year and their pick went to Orlando as part of the Nikola Vučević trade from 2021.

The White Sox hope guys like Noah Schultz (2022 first-round pick), Colson Montgomery (2021), Garrett Crochet (2020) and Andrew Vaughn (2019) will be cornerstones of the organization for years to come, but it’s far too early to tell what their legacy will be in Chicago. So now, we’re taking a look at White Sox first-round draft picks who have already cemented their spot in franchise history. And if the White Sox were to carve the faces of four first-rounders into a mountain somewhere on the South Side, here’s who would make the cut.


Baines is a man who will be a White Sox lifer forever, even though he didn’t spend his entire playing career with the team. Over his incredible 22-year career, Baines spent 14 seasons with the White Sox. He was one of the most consistent hitters on the team and was known for being a soft-spoken, nice guy. Consider this stretch in Baines’ first stint with the team: from 1981 through the first half of 1989 (when he was traded to the Rangers), Baines never finished a season with a batting average below. He hit 20+ homers in six straight seasons over that same time frame. And he continued to play at a high level for a long time. Baines’ last 100+ RBI season came in 1999, nearly two decades after his minor league debut. He retired after the 2001 season, but couldn’t stay away from the game too long. Baines rejoined the White Sox as a bench coach for former teammate Ozzie Guillen. He remained a coach through the 2015 season. In 2019, Baines was inducted into the Hall of Fame.


“Black Jack” dominated as an ace for the White Sox practically from the moment they drafted him with the No. 5 overall pick. McDowell started just six minor games before the team called him up to make his MLB debut in Sept. 1987. He was lights out. In his first start, McDowell threw seven shutout innings and only gave up four hits in the process.  He finished the 1987 season with a 1.93 ERA and a perfect 4-0 record in four starts. McDowell never relented after that and was the ultimate workhouse in the rotation. He pitched 250+ innings three seasons in a row from 1991-1993. That included an MLB-leading 15 complete games in ‘91 and 13 complete games in ‘92. McDowell had a 3.50 ERA over his seven year career on the South Side with 49 complete games and 10 shutouts. He was a three-time All-Star and won the Cy Young award in 1993.


It did not take long for Ventura to make an impact for the White Sox, both offensively and defensively. In 1990, Ventura’s rookie season, he racked up 123 hits, which was the most by a Sox rookie since Ozzie Guillen in 1985. The next year he won his first of five Gold Glove awards with the White Sox, and set a record for most RBI by a White Sox third baseman with 100. He broke that record again with 105 in 1996. The White Sox let Rockin’ Robin walk after the 1998 season, but he returned to manage the team from 2012 - 2016. His managerial career was not as successful as his playing career, but he remains the best third baseman in franchise history.


Simply put, the greatest White Sox hitter of all-time. The “Big Hurt” owns practically every relevant franchise record for a hitter, including his 448 home runs, 1,465 RBI, 1,466 walks and .995 OPS. In 16 seasons with the White Sox, he hit over 30 home runs eight times. He had 10 seasons with over 100 RBI. He led the league in OPS four times. Thomas won MVP twice, and should have won a third award in 2000. Thomas finished in second behind Jason Giambi that year, and Giambi later testified that he took steroids around that time. Ask someone who’s the first player they think of when you say “White Sox” and there’s a good chance they respond “Frank Thomas” and he’s earned every bit of that honor.

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