Will Jake Burger stay at third base or what?
It’s a perfectly reasonable question, as plenty of prospects have started at one position only to end up moving over to first base when their bat proved more valuable than their glove. Heck, new Hall of Famer Jim Thome was drafted as a shortstop and played third base during his first several big league seasons.
Burger is a masher, the reason the White Sox took him with their first pick in last summer’s draft, and he’s not exactly built like your typical third baseman.
Because of that, the new national pastime of the South Side — projecting the future White Sox lineup — rarely includes Burger at third base. Instead, and I’m as guilty as anyone, Burger is seen as a potential future first baseman by those on the outside. A lot of that has to do with some big-name third basemen hitting the free-agent market in upcoming offseasons, too.
But the bottom line is this: If you’re concerned about Burger’s glove, the White Sox think you shouldn’t be.
“From what I’ve seen, there’s nothing that says that he can’t play third base,” Chris Getz, the White Sox director of player development, said during last month’s SoxFest at the Hilton Chicago. “He’s got a strong arm, he’s got good hands, good reactions. He’s shown some pretty good range, as well.
“If you watch him, it’s probably not the typical. He’s more of a throwback, let’s put it that way. There’s some effort to what he does, but he makes the plays. He’s got great presence in the field, he’s a leader on the field. I do project him to be a third baseman by the time he gets here.”
General manager Rick Hahn talked about how, if all goes according to plan, the White Sox could have championship-caliber options at every position on the diamond. So why throw a crazy amount of money at Manny Machado or Nolan Arenado if Burger’s going to be manning the hot corner? It’s up to Burger and the White Sox player-development staff to prove that would be the case, but it’s an interesting wrinkle to all those down-the-line projections.