White Sox

Burger Bash: White Sox first-round pick puts on show in BP

Burger Bash: White Sox first-round pick puts on show in BP

Jake Burger is ready to get his pro career cooking after two memorable weeks that were highlighted by a Paul Konerko phone call and batting practice with the big club.

The latter took place at Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday afternoon when Burger -- the 11th overall pick of the June 12 amateur draft -- was introduced by the White Sox. Burger hit in the second group with Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia and Melky Cabrera.

The Konerko call took place shortly after the White Sox drafted Burger out of Missouri State. He received a text that someone from the organization would be trying to get a hold of him. The caller identified himself only as “Paul” and Burger immediately knew he was talking to his favorite player, the one who made him a White Sox fan in the first place.

“I didn’t know it was going to be Paul Konerko,” Burger said. “Pick up the phone and he’s, ‘Hey Jake, it’s Paul' and I’m like ‘OK.’ He gave great advice, said keep my number and call me whenever you need it.

“The main thing I took from it was you’re going to be in a season that’s six months long. You’ll have two great months, two bad months and two above average months, you’re going to have a great season. Don’t let down times get you down too much. And always outwork the guy next to you.”

The guys around Burger on Monday were Todd Frazier, Tim Anderson and Geovany Soto, all of whom gave the first-rounder a hard time in a playful manner. Burger’s batting practice session -- in front of more than a dozen photographers -- picked up steam during his third round in the cage. Burger displayed his 55-grade power and began to launch fly balls deep to left, some coming within several rows of reaching the concourse.

“I was nervous,” Burger said. “I got one out and it was second nature after that.”

Burger, who received a $3.7-million signing bonus, is headed to the team’s year-round facility in Glendale, Ariz. on Tuesday. From there he’s expected to join Single-A Kannapolis.

Burger is anxious to get back on the field.

“Felt like forever since I played and it’s only been 10 days since the Super Regional,” Burger said. “I’m ready to get going.”

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Depending on which report you choose to believe, the White Sox could be on the verge of filling the void in their outfield with one of the bigger names on this winter’s free-agent market.

Dominican reporter Frank Castillo tweeted Saturday that the White Sox will sign Marcell Ozuna, planning to announce the free-agent deal Monday.

Well, that was followed up by a report from The Score’s Bruce Levine, who said the White Sox are not about to sign Ozuna.

So there’s that.

The White Sox were connected to Ozuna earlier this offseason, as well as more recently, with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi writing last week that the team had interest in Japanese import Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, but were waiting to hear on the decisions of Ozuna and fellow free agent Nicholas Castellanos first.

Ozuna turned heads with his fantastic 2017 season for the Miami Marlins, when he slashed .312/.376/.548 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs. Since being dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozuna hit .263/.327/.452 with 52 homers and 177 RBIs in two seasons.

The White Sox have a pressing need in right field, making it little surprise that they’ve been tied to numerous options, including Ozuna, Castellanos and Joc Pederson. Ozuna, though, exclusively played left field in St. Louis. Were the White Sox to add him, would they insist he play right field? They’ve expressed little to no interest in moving Eloy Jimenez out of left field.

It’s rumor season, and there should be plenty more of them with the Winter Meetings starting Monday in San Diego. The White Sox are expected to continue the aggressive approach they’ve displayed already this winter with the signing of Yasmani Grandal and their reported high bid to Zack Wheeler, who took less money to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies.

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White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

Baseball free agency is heating up as the weather gets colder. This week we are breaking down 10 potential free-agent targets for the White Sox ahead of the Winter Meetings.

Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals

Age: 29

2019 salary: $12,250,000

2019 stats: .241 BA, .328 OBP, .472 SLG, .800 OPS, 29 HR, 89 RBI, 80 R, 12/14 SB 

What Ozuna would bring to the White Sox

Ozuna appeared on the verge of becoming an elite star like Anthony Rendon after a breakout season in 2017 with the Marlins. Ozuna came up at 22 and had decent years early in his career. He improved upon his first few years with 37 home runs, 124 RBIs and a .924 OPS as a 26-year-old.

Unlike Rendon, who broke through in 2017 and has sustained that for three seasons now, Ozuna's breakout year appears to be more of a flash in the pan. Ozuna was traded to the Cardinals before the 2018 season and saw a dropoff in his production.

His power and walk rate took big dips in 2018, although he bounced back in both last season. However, he hit .241, which was the lowest batting average of his career.

Ozuna had a career-high walk rate (11.3%) and had the second-best extra-base hit and home run rates of his career (he was only better in those areas in 2017). His strikeout rate (20.8%) was in line with his career average. So what went wrong? His batting average of balls in play was a career-worst .257, which suggests that maybe he's due for some form of bounce back in 2020 as far as batting average.

To simplify all that, Ozuna was good in some areas and inexplicably poor (and maybe unlucky) in others. Does that mean he will return to his big 2017 year wherever he signs? Probably not, but it does help to alleviate some of the feeling of risk for a player who has been inconsistent in his career.

Defensively, Ozuna has a Gold Glove on his resume from 2017, but the stats say he's just an average fielder. Not to mention, he's become infamous for this fielding gaffe.

What it would take to get him

He's young with a mostly positive track record offensively and if he can recreate his 2017 season offensively, he's an all-star outfielder. He won't be cheap, but he has enough question marks to come up just short of $20 million per year.

Ozuna should be able to get four or five years in the mid-to-upper teens per year, similar to fellow outfield free agent Nicholas Castellanos.

Why it's a fit for the White Sox

The White Sox need a corner outfielder. He fills a position of need, adds depth, patience and power to the lineup and won't be a liability in the field.

Ozuna isn't the splashiest signing the White Sox could make, but it makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.

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