White Sox turn back to pitching with first-round draft pick
Last year, it was first baseman Andrew Vaughn.
The year before that, second baseman Nick Madrigal.
In 2017, third baseman Jake Burger.
In 2016, catcher Zack Collins.
The White Sox have had very high draft picks in recent years, and they revamped their barren farm system by drafting decorated collegiate hitters.
It made a lot of sense to address pitching in this year's amateur talent search, and the Sox did just that.
With the No. 11 overall pick Wednesday night, they drafted left-hander Garrett Crochet (pronounced CROW-shay) from the University of Tennessee.
"We are very excited to bring Garrett into the organization," said Mike Shirley, who is in his first year as the White Sox's director of amateur scouting. "We are talking about an elite left-handed pitcher who we think will be a starter, with a three-pitch mix.
"The intangibles that he brings in terms of toughness and athleticism are something we really gravitated toward, and we were very excited to get him at the 11th pick."
Crochet, 20, made just 1 start as a junior this season with Tennessee before COVID-19 shut down the season. He pitched 3⅔ scoreless innings and had 6 strikeouts.
A 6-foot-6, 220-pounder, Crochet's fastball was rated the best among collegiate pitchers by Baseball America.
As a sophomore last year, the Ocean Springs (Miss.) High School product went 5-3 with a 4.02 ERA with 3 saves and 81 strikeouts over 65 innings in 18 games (6 starts).
While he has a power arm seen in many major-league closers, Crochet is viewed as a starting pitcher by the Sox.
"I think he can be a (No.) 3 starter," Shirley said. "That's going to continue to unfold. There are some hopes that he's more than that in our room. We think we got a piece of the puzzle that has a high ceiling."
Crochet had a sore shoulder at the start of this year and he suffered a broken jaw late last season. He's fully healthy and ready to pitch whenever the opportunity comes around again.
"I ended up right where I was supposed to end up," said Crochet, a nuclear engineering major at Tennessee. "I've got an organization that believes in me. I'm definitely living out a dream right now. It's something I've really worked hard for."
Being a tall lefty with a power arm and sweeping slider, Crochet is already being compared to former White Sox ace Chris Sale.
"I definitely see those, but it's tough to make on me as I haven't achieved anything close to what Chris has achieved," Crochet said. "But it's nice to see. Actually, when I was developing a slider I tried to shape it the same way Chris does."