Former first-rounder Ventura can't relate

CHICAGO -- This time 24 years ago, Robin Ventura had no clue what was coming.

Ventura had just wrapped up his third season at Oklahoma State when the amateur draft came around. There was no cell phone for the White Sox to reach him with, and no agent to deliver the news or negotiate a contract.

“That was ‘wait till they call you and tell you what’s going on,’” the White Sox manager recalled on Sunday. “It’s not like today. I don’t even know how they got a hold of us. I think they called one of our coaches (at Oklahoma State). Our coach called me and said, ‘Hey, you were drafted by the White Sox.’”

The White Sox drafted him 10th overall in the 1988 draft and the third baseman cracked the big leagues a year later. As the White Sox get set for Monday’s MLB draft, in which they own the Nos. 13 and 48 picks, Ventura admittedly cannot relate to much of what this year’s crop of players are experiencing because so much has changed since Ventura went through the process himself.

“You’re aware that you’re probably going to get drafted but you don’t know by who,” Ventura said. “Today, everything’s pretty much out there with everything going on. Back then you didn’t even know who was watching you. You know they were there to watch games but it’s not like now.”

White Sox pitcher Philip Humber, who was drafted No. 3 by the Mets in 2004, said he experienced a rush of emotions on draft day, which happened to be the day after his Rice University baseball team saw its season end in the Houston Regional of the College World Series.

Humber was in the know from the onset of his amateur status back when the Yankees drafted him in the 29th round of the 2001 MLB draft following his senior year of high school. Humber declined to sign but continued to receive letters and interest from teams.

“When you don’t have an agent -- and you can’t as an amateur -- you have to handle it,” Humber recalled. “The clubs would call and be like, ‘Hey, how much is it going to take to sign you?’ They want to know. How do you handle that as an 18-year-old kid? You throw Monopoly money at them? It’s something I think can be improved, especially when you’re 18 years old.”

Ventura didn’t get an agent until later in his career.

“When I signed I did it myself,” he said. “There wasn’t agents involved like there are now. I negotiated my own (contract). I gave myself a bonus.”

And once a player gets passed the contract and, in some cases a signing bonus, the anticipation to climb the ranks to the big leagues begins and the reality of the situation settles in.

“It’s definitely something I was not completely prepared for, going from the college setting to pro baseball, but it was definitely something I was glad to happen,” Humber said. “Drafted high and being a team’s first pick and getting to experience that, it was fun but there was still work to get done to get to the big leagues. I think sometimes when you’re a first-round pick that can skew your perception of how things will go -- ‘They like me this much, I’m going to be there real fast.’ Sometimes that happens but most of the time it takes a while for guys to get through the minor leagues and prove themselves. …

“Until you go through it, I don’t think there’s any way to really know what it’s going to be like.”