With no minor league baseball this season, Sox make major adjustments
Making the best of a bad situation.
They really had no other choice, but that's what the White Sox did on the minor league side this season. The numbers say they did a very good job.
Fourteen rookies played for the Sox this year -- six position players and eight pitchers.
With no minor-league baseball at any level due to COVID-19, the White Sox had to develop young talent at their training facility in Schaumburg, and 12 players went on to make their major league debuts.
"It's been personally frustrating, and organizationally frustrating, that we haven't had a minor league season for these guys to continue their development," said Chris Getz, the Sox's farm director. "But it's been very gratifying to watch some of our young players that we all knew were talented. You certainly don't know when the opportunity's going to come for a lot of players, and then how they're going to react at the major league level.
"To get the production that we've gotten from some of these young players has been very gratifying. I'm impressed."
In normal years, the White Sox send their top prospects to the Arizona Fall League at the end of the season for added polish against high-level competition.
This is anything but a normal year, but at least there is an expanded Instructional League this month and competitive games against teams that hold spring training in Arizona.
The Sox's Instructional League roster, which is training at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., features over 40 minor league players.
On the positional side, Andrew Vaughn, Blake Rutherford and Micker Adolfo were invited to Arizona, as was Jake Burger.
Jared Kelley, Matt Thompson and Andrew Dalquist head the group of young pitchers that are at Camelback Ranch.
Burger is an interesting story.
The White Sox's first-round draft pick (No. 11 overall) in 2017, Burger missed the entire 2018 season after twice rupturing his left Achilles tendon.
The 24-year-old third baseman sat out all of last year with a bruised left heel.
Burger did get back on the field this season, playing 12 games in the CarShield Collegiate League in his native St. Louis and then joining the Sox's training camp in Schaumburg.
"You just kind of have the mindset of never give up," Burger said. "I feel like I learned that. There was definitely some time over the last two years where you're like, 'Why am I even doing this?' My parents always tell me, 'Whatever you do, never give up and just keep pushing forward,' and I feel like I have that mentality now."