2017 MLB Draft

Why the White Sox focused on power with top picks in MLB draft

Why the White Sox focused on power with top picks in MLB draft

The White Sox loaded up on the long ball on Monday night.

After they selected power hitter Jake Burger earlier in the first round, the White Sox targeted and acquired Wake Forest first baseman Gavin Sheets in the second round. The son of former Baltimore Orioles’ outfielder Larry Sheets, Gavin Sheets produced a .322/.429/.634 with 20 home runs and 81 RBIs in 280 plate appearances for the Deamon Deacons. He also walked 44 times and struck out only 33. Burger hit 22 taters and walked 43 times while only striking out 38 at Missouri State this season. Power and plate discipline were two aspects the White Sox felt they needed to add in a vastly improved farm system.

“A lot of power, a lot of walks, little strikeouts,” amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. “That’s kind of the whole goal to it.

“We needed power, especially left-handed power. When you look at the pieces (general manager Rick Hahn) brought in through trade and what we did last year in the draft, the middle of the order bats were important for us. We got a third baseman and first baseman and right- and left-handed power with our first two picks. It went exactly as planned.”

The White Sox had added several position players through the first seven months of the draft, but no pure power hitters. Both Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert project to have 55 power on the 20-80 scouting scale, according to MLBPipeline.com. Last year’s first-rounder Zack Collins also grades at 55 and has hit nine homers this season at Winston-Salem.

[MORE: What draft analysts say about White Sox first-rounder Jake Burger

But beyond the trio, the White Sox don’t have an overwhelming amount of power in the system.

The additions of Burger and Sheets, both of whom also grade out at 55, gives the White Sox a number of options. Burger was the No. 16-ranked prospect in the draft and Sheets is No. 60. While the White Sox selected both ahead of their projected rankings, they were pleased to nab two of the better power bats in a college class short on them. Hostetler said the White Sox called Sheets immediately after they went on their Burger run to let them know of their interest.

“We got two we were really excited about,” Hostetler said. “Both of them more walks than strikeouts. Both of them home runs in the 20s. Both of them with advanced hitting approaches. We were very excited. We were sweating a few picks. We weren’t sure (Sheets) would get to us.”

What draft analysts say about White Sox first-rounder Jake Burger

What draft analysts say about White Sox first-rounder Jake Burger

While there are few doubts about Jake Burger’s bat, some analysts have raised some questions about his glove.

The third baseman hit for plenty of power and walked more than he struck out during his junior season at Missouri State. But draft experts wonder Burger -- whom the White Sox took with the 11th pick in the amateur draft on Monday -- can stick at third base.

White Sox scouting director Nick Hostetler said the club thinks Burger’s arm and feet will keep him at the hot corner. Not everyone agrees with the club, however.

[MORE: White Sox draft pick joins team he rooted for as a kid

“Few scouts think Burger stays at third,” said ESPN.com’s Keith Law.

Baseball America’s scouting report also casts some doubt on whether or not Burger is good enough to stay at third. But, BA left some wiggle room as to his future position.

“Whether Burger can stick at third base will depend on how much work the team that drafts him is willing to do. His feet work relatively well and his arm is average and accurate, but he lacks a quick first step and is limited in his range.”

The White Sox faced similar questions about last year’s first-rounder Zack Collins and whether or not he would stay at catcher. Collins has thrown out 39 percent of stolen base attempts this season at Single-A Winston-Salem.

“Just as we felt that Zack last year was going to catch, we feel Jake's going to stay at third base,” Hostetler said. “He's got a plus arm, a 55-60 arm on a scouting 20 to 80 scale. His feet work really well, hands work well. Once he gets with Buddy Bell and Chris Getz and with our instructors, we think he's just going to get better. He's a definite third baseman for us.”

Burger’s bat has been graded much higher than his glove. MLBPipeline.com -- which has Burger sticking at third – gives Burger a 50 grade hit tool on the 20-80 scouting scale and 55 power. The site evalutes Burger as “one of the top power sources available in a draft class short on college hitters,” though “there are some worries about an arm bar in his right-handed swing.”

Wrote ESPN’s Keith Law: “Everyone seems to think he’ll hit and hit for power, with hard, loud contact all over the field.”

Baseball America complimented Burger’s pitch recognition and also mentioned the arm bar in his swing -- “but he’s been strong enough to make it work.”

“Last year we feel like we added the best left-handed power in the country and this year we added the best right-handed power in the country,” Hostetler said. 

Cubs Talk Podcast: Inside the draft room

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Inside the draft room

In the latest edition of the Cubs Talk Podcast, the crew brings you inside the Cubs' draft room and much more.

Cubs Director of Amateur Scouting Matt Dorey takes CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney inside the draft room ahead of the MLB event next week, and how the organization can help supplement their stable of young hitters or add those elusive pitching prospects.
 
Plus, take a look back at how the recent Cubs first-rounders — Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora Jr. and Javy Baez — have impacted the team of late, and how much the team meeting was a factor in the latest turnaround following an 0-6 road trip.

Listen to the Cubs Talk Podcast below.