Garrett Crochet is the perfect pandemic pick for White Sox

BATON ROUGE, LA - APRIL 13: Tennessee Volunteers pitcher Garrett Crochet (34) throws a pitch during a game between the LSU Tigers and the Tennessee Volunteers at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on April 13, 2018. (Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire)

Obviously, the White Sox see first-round draft pick Garrett Crochet as a starter, or otherwise they wouldn’t have drafted him 11th overall.

Any Carson Fulmer will tell you that doesn’t always work out, but in Mike Shirley’s first conference call with reporters after making his first first-round pick on Wednesday, he spelled out the terms of his vision. James Fegan said that Shirley called Crochet a No. 3 starter, which is better than it sounds. In “Future Value,” Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen described a scout’s No. 3 as a top 25-30 arm in baseball, along the lines of an Aaron Nola or a José Berríos. That’d work.

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Beyond the No. 3 label, here’s Fegan relaying the state of Crochet’s present and future as the White Sox see it.

“If he pitches the ninth inning, how about that for a good floor?” Shirley said. “The fastball is top of the charts. The slider is a wipeout at times, it’s a pitch that’s going to continue to develop for him. The shape is proper. The changeup is a pitch we’re excited about and how he’s going to be able to execute against right-handers. There have been some questions about it, but we think that pitch is coming. As that process unfolds, it’s a three-pitch weaponry. The delivery has some deception to it, and it’s exciting what he’s going to attack hitters with.”

The shortness of Crochet’s track record is what makes enthusiasm easy to keep in check, especially since Fulmer and Zack Burdi show a “good floor” sometimes just means there’s plenty of room to be buried beneath it. Crochet made only 13 starts in college, and this season would’ve been his first as a full-time member of Tennessee’s rotation. He also missed time with shoulder soreness, which Crochet played down as a strained muscle on the same call, although the FanGraphs scouting report makes one wonder how he got it (“the team claimed was shoulder soreness, which MLB teams are skeptical of and think had to do with an off-the-field matter”).

Michael Kopech had bigger makeup questions at that age, so the talent seems more central to the doubt, and here’s a case where the pandemic also makes it more difficult to sense a particular prospect’s path. While we’ve heard a lot about the White Sox’s strides in pitch design — Everett Teaford, a beefed-up analytics staff, the pitch lab in Arizona — we haven’t gotten to see where it all gets White Sox pitching propsects. The last we had regular-season games to work with, gains from Jonathan Stiever were offset by the lost seasons of Kopech, Dane Dunning and Jimmy Lambert. It’s not anybody’s fault that they haven’t been able to make new stories, but it sucks nevertheless.

It’s also not specific to Crochet. If the White Sox drafted Tyler Soderstrom like I kinda-sorta hoped they would, we’d have even fewer examples of the Sox developing somebody like him, and there aren’t any off-the-radar hitters blazing into June. Hell, even if the White Sox had a chance to draft Spencer Torkelson, I’d be wondering if Andrew Vaughn made the necessary strides in his first full season.

In a way, I suppose that makes Crochet a fitting pick for what’s hopefully the only season so dramatically altered by a pandemic. More than most players in the first round, imagining Crochet’s future requires all the games we wish he’d been able to play, as well as the minor-league season that isn’t able to happen.

Crochet could also become more exciting if he signs for an amount that makes later-round splurges easier possible. Baseball America has the best available players at the start of Round 2.

* * * * * * * * *

Other quick first-round thoughts

*The positions were a subject of fascination during the first half of the first round. The Tigers classified Torkelson as a third baseman, rather than a first baseman. Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin went from “OF/3B” to “SS” when Toronto took him fifth, while Nick Gonzalez moved from second to short after the Pirates took him at No. 7.

*Ed Howard to the Cubs at No. 16 broke a lot of hearts, although White Sox fans have some experience in wishing somebody well despite the uniform in Jose Quintana. Don’t read this.

*According to MLB.com’s draft tracker, he biggest overdraft was the Red Sox selecting prep second baseman Nick Yorke at No. 17, although he ranked No. 139 on the MLB.com list. The biggest drop was UCLA outfielder Garrett Mitchell, whose diabetes and limited power profile made his evaluation a little harder to pin down.

(Photo of Garrett Crochet by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire)

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Buehrlesque

I have to admit, my first reaction was Aaron Poreda. Jim, you put it so well: “Fulmer and Zack Burdi show a ‘good floor’ sometimes just means there’s plenty of room to be buried beneath it.” So I’m not enthused, but… there wasn’t a glaringly better option once Detmers went, and, bright side, maybe Crochet signs underslot and allows for an overslot pick at No. 10 today. In any case, here’s hoping he comes out of the Sox bullpen in 2020.

Eagle Bones

This is kind of where I’m at. I was rooting for the Rox or Angels to screw something up so Detmers would get to them. But once he was gone, it was kind of a mixed bag of similarly risky options. As such, I’m fine with the pick. It’s certainly far from boring as I imagine he should be up relatively quickly (especially if they move him to the pen) and comes with premium stuff. Forgot to mention last night, but I also really like that he’s a high-spin guy. That’s something that I wasn’t sure they understood (or at least were targeting) for a while, so it’s good to see them zeroing in on guys that fit into that category. Hopefully Day 2 comes with some more fun guys to add to the system.

MonicaMG

I hope he gets to be a starter so we can have a Knitting at the park night with a Crochet bobblehead.

tommytwonines

I thought you were going here

Spoiler
Alek Thomas
with the “Don’t read this” comment.

As Cirensica

Is Burdi already filed under the Carson Fiulmers folder?

knoxfire30

getting pretty close his upside was already much more limited since he was drafted as a bullpen arm

As Cirensica

I still hold the hopes he can be an useful reliever once he recovers his health…apparently I am an optimist. I actually had higher hopes with Burdi than with Hansen ….oh my… they are both 25 years old and still far from the Majors. Oh boy. I thought Burdi was still in his early 20s

knoxfire30

the age thing isnt great, and the lost velo is even more a concern, not that 95-97 cant get guys out but its not the 99-102 he had before

James

Fwiw, from my beat writer perspective, Shirley didn’t want to actually say on the record “yeah obviously there’s the possibility this guy flames out and doesn’t make the majors” on the night of, at this point, the crowning achievement of Crochet’s life. He sort of brushed off the question and offered up the closer role as a lower end outcome from their ultimate goal that they would still be happy with, not a “true floor.”

James

Holy crap I actually figured out how to comment.

mikeschach

I feel quite strongly we should pronounce his last name ‘”Crockett”, nickname him “Davey” and refer to him as “king of the wild frontier”, says this OPOS