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.
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.”