White Sox

White Sox select Missouri State 3B Jake Burger with No. 11 pick

White Sox select Missouri State 3B Jake Burger with No. 11 pick

A topsy-turvy top-10 may not have provided the clarity they desired, but the White Sox knew what they wanted in the first round of the amateur draft on Monday night.

Amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said the club hoped to select a power bat to complement a young core in need of hitters.

Hostetler thinks the White Sox found exactly what they want in Missouri State’s Jake Burger, whom they drafted with the 11th pick. Burger blasted 43 home runs the past two seasons, including 22 this season. The 21-year-old junior produced a .328/.443/.648 slash line with 13 doubles, 65 RBIs, 43 walks and 38 strikeouts in 305 plate appearances this season. MLBPipeline.com’s scouting report describes Burger as “one of the top power sources available in a draft class short on college hitters.”

“It was pretty fluid this year,” Hostetler said. “It was all over the place at the top. Jake was the guy we identified early in the process … as being the guy we felt had the best right-handed power in the country. Last year we feel like we added the best left-handed power in the country (Zack Collins) and this year we added the best right-handed power in the country. We identified Jake early and knew that he was the guy that hit-wise was exactly what we wanted to do as an organization.”

While the White Sox added a ton of pitchers since their rebuild began last December, they hadn’t added as many position players. General manager Rick Hahn’s plan calls for a critical mass of talent to be acquired as the White Sox want to be able to handle as many of their future issues from within. They know not every player pans out and hope to amass as many players as possible.

[MORE: What analysts have to say about Jake Burger

The club has added quite a few potential position players in the past 12 months starting with Collins. They acquired Yoan Moncada and Luis Basabe in the December deal for Chris Sale. Last month they added an elite outfield prospect in Luis Robert, who on Monday homered in his first professional game.

But there’s still a need for more.

In Burger, the White Sox drafted a player who has tried to model himself after Paul Konerko, one of his favorite players growing up. The St. Louis-native told club officials during his interview he grew up a huge White Sox fan.  

“I modeled more of my mechanical side off of (Konerko),” Burger said. “Me as a player, I’m obviously known for my power and the ability to drive the ball out to all parts of the field. But I’m more just a consistent guy too. I’m not hitting .280. I’m hitting for average with the home runs as well.”

Whereas last year the White Sox knew Collins would be available at 10, this draft wasn’t as easy to handicap. There were more than several unknowns in the group ahead of the White Sox to distort their view. Hostetler said the team identified a group of five comparable players with the knowledge that two would be there. Ultimately, they found the right-handed bat they desired.

“Last year we had a clearer picture,” Hostetler said. “This year there were some bits and pieces of it we didn’t know. … You sit there, you sweat it out. You know what your organization wants. We knew we wanted to add an impact-type bat, middle-of-the-order guy and we were able to.”

White Sox' Luis Robert not feeling pressure of Rookie of the Year hype

White Sox' Luis Robert not feeling pressure of Rookie of the Year hype

Of all the White Sox players this season, the spotlight has shined brightest on Luis Robert, but he says that’s not the reason for his recent five-game slump. In fact, Robert doesn’t even see himself as a new face of the franchise, despite all the hype surrounding his MLB debut and hot start to the season.

“I honestly don’t feel that way,” Robert said via team interpreter Billy Russo. “I just think that I’m the new guy.”

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It’s clear the pressure didn’t affect Robert earlier in the year as he notched at least one hit in his first six games, and racked up 14 hits through 10 games. As the impressive performances at the plate mounted, so did the buzz around the young centerfielder. But Robert insists he doesn’t think about it, even though he’s slashing a lowly .158/.200/.211 over his last five games, and out of the lineup for the first time in his career on Monday.

“I know everyone’s trying to talk about me, about my option for Rookie of the Year and that kind of stuff,” Robert said via Russo. “But for me I just feel like another guy for this team. I don’t feel that pressure, that attention. I know that it’s there, but I don’t think about that.”

So is this mini-slump due to an adjustment in the way pitchers are approaching Robert at the plate? Again, Robert says no.

“Pitchers have been attacking me the same way since the season started. I didn’t have good results the last few days, but I just have to keep working. There’s nothing different that they have done against me. It’s just a matter of results.”

Robert has shown a remarkable ability to adjust to a pitcher’s approach mid-game. Now it’s time to see how he adjusts to a little major league adversity.

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White Sox-Cardinals series, amid COVID-19 outbreak, still scheduled to play

White Sox-Cardinals series, amid COVID-19 outbreak, still scheduled to play

At least one sign points to the St. Louis Cardinals returning to play soon enough to play the White Sox this weekend.

The White Sox announced on Monday that the start time of their Saturday game against the Cardinals had been pushed back from a day game to a night game.

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While that isn’t extraordinarily newsworthy on it’s own, it does indicate that MLB still intends for the Cardinals to travel to Chicago to play the White Sox. St. Louis hasn’t played since July 29, since nine players and seven staff tested positive for COVID-19, according to CBS Sports.

While things can certainly change quickly, if everything remains the same the Cardinals will make up two games against the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 13. The White Sox were previously scheduled to play the Cardinals that day, so they will now have an off day on Aug. 13 and will begin their series against St. Louis on Aug. 14.

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