Burger, Céspedes picked to represent Sox in Futures Game

/ by Vinnie Duber
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

A year ago, Jake Burger was playing in something called the CarShield Collegiate League in Missouri.

In a couple weeks, he'll be representing the Chicago White Sox as a part of Major League Baseball's All-Star festivities.

Burger, the organization's first-round pick in 2017, was one of two White Sox prospects picked to participate in the Futures Game, scheduled for Sunday, July 13, in Denver. He'll play alongside outfielder Yoelqui Céspedes, who joined the White Sox organization earlier this year as an international free agent.

RELATED: Sheets, Burger could provide boost for Sox offense

"It's been a crazy year, and hopefully things keep going the way they are," Burger said Wednesday. "For me, it's just a pitch-by-pitch thing, and day-by-day. Keep doing what I'm doing, and the rest will take care of itself. I'm very process-oriented and learning the game every single day.

"I'm just going to be me and keep doing the things I'm doing."

Burger was once a future middle-of-the-order hitter for the White Sox, a slugger out of Missouri State University who was impressive enough to be the 11th overall pick in the draft. Then, a series of significant injuries redefined his career, as he missed three consecutive seasons in recovery mode and due to the pandemic.

Burger, though, is in the process of redefining his career once again, tearing it up at Triple-A Charlotte with a .317/.365/.593 slash line, 10 home runs and 35 RBIs in 41 games this season.


"Honestly, my approach has been really sound," Burger said. "(Charlotte hitting coach) Chris Johnson and I have been working every single day on my approach, and it's kind of come together, finally, over these last three weeks.

"Things have been clicking recently, and hopefully they stay clicking."

He's looking good enough with the bat — and playing a new position, second base — that he's a potential candidate to get to the major leagues and help the White Sox, who have not only been searching for offense in a lineup increasingly reliant on bench players but also have a hole at second after Nick Madrigal's season-ending hamstring tear.

It's been quite an ascension.

"Every single day I get on that field, I'm really confident in myself. I think the last three years have definitely given me confidence," Burger said. "It changed me as a person. It matured me. It also changed me as a player.

"Having that confidence every single day has led to this success. I definitely feel like I belong."

Burger won't be the only White Sox prospect of note playing that day in Colorado, though, as Céspedes has been a buzz-worthy name since signing as an international free agent out of Cuba early this year.

Billed as an advanced five-tool player who is relatively "close to the major leagues," he was the top-ranked player in this year's international free-agent class.

"Since I was in Cuba, people have told me I'm a five-tool player, even though I didn't have much power when I was playing there," Céspedes said in January. "But now that I am stronger, I think I am a five-tool player. And that's what brought me to the White Sox."

Céspedes has played in nine games at Class A Winston-Salem, with eight hits, including a homer and three doubles, in 37 at-bats.

Now, White Sox fans and fans of teams across the league will get a chance to see what Céspedes can do, and on an All-Star stage.

Burger, of course, has already seen it. And according to him, it's impressive.

"He's a stud," Burger said. "I'm really excited to meet up with him again at the Futures Game. His pop is unbelievable, power is ridiculous. He's a good kid. I'm really excited to see him again and share some laughs.

"He was my throwing partner during (spring training), so I'm really excited for him. And seeing what he's done just in the few games he's played this year has been just incredible. I knew he was that type of player."

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