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 catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

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USA TODAY

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

For the first time since new rules came into effect in 2005, the White Sox will reportedly see a major league player suspended for violating baseball’s ban on performance-enhancing drugs.

Welington Castillo, the team’s biggest offseason addition, will be suspended for 80 games, according to a pair of reports.

Manager Rick Renteria said after Wednesday's win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles that he couldn't comment on the reports. Castillo played in Wednesday's game, during which the news broke.

"For me, those at this particular moment are rumors," Renteria said. "MLB is the one that is in charge of that type of stuff. Until they release anything officially I can’t really comment on that."

The veteran catcher, slashing .267/.309/.466 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games this season, was brought in over the winter to help the rebuilding White Sox in both the short and long term. He had a career year offensively and defensively in 2017, and he was acquired to help develop a young pitching staff featuring big pieces of the future like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, and also to swing a solid bat and help this young team learn how to win.

If Castillo proves productive over the course of his two-year deal, the White Sox have a team option that could keep Castillo on the South Side for the 2020 season. That could make him a piece of the puzzle for when the rebuild reaches its apex and the team is ready to start contending for championships. But this news has the potential to change that dramatically.

Zack Collins and Seby Zavala are both having strong offensive seasons at Double-A Birmingham and figure to be the long-term answers behind the plate. But Castillo’s absence from any long-term picture could leave the White Sox without a veteran safety net in the years ahead, depending on how the team decides to react to this news now and in the coming seasons.

Castillo’s absence for the next 80 games could also have an impact on the development of aforementioned pitchers like Giolito and Lopez. Lopez, in particular, has been throwing really well this season, and Giolito has control issues to work through, as he leads the American League in walks. Without the veteran catcher brought in to help those guys transition to the major league level, how will the transition change for those two pitchers?

Omar Narvaez would be the logical choice to take over as the No. 1 catcher. As for who could take Castillo's place on the major league roster, the options are limited. Kevan Smith, who was edged out by Narvaez for the backup-catching job in spring training, is on the disabled list at Triple-A Charlotte, placed there Tuesday. The aforementioned Zavala is also injured at Double-A Birmingham, and it seems far too early to rush Collins to the big leagues. Alfredo Gonzalez is a catcher on the roster at Charlotte. A spot on the 40-man roster would need to be freed up to bring him to Chicago.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: