Well this is a surprise. Not in a surprise in a bad way, because Jake Burger can absolutely mash, which we’ll get to in a minute, but a surprise because literally nobody saw the White Sox taking Jake Burger 11th overall today. I had 3 or 4 scouting report blogs ready to go on players I thought would fall to the Sox today, including JB Bukauskas, Jeren Kendall, and yes, Austin Beck, though that was probably a pipe dream. Let’s dig into this selection:
First, I want to talk about the players the White Sox didn’t draft really quickly:
Austin Beck, Pavin Smith, Adam Haseley, Jo Adell Beck, had he fallen to them, would have drafted by the White Sox. It’s the organization’s fault they only acquired enough Big League talent in the 2015-16 offseason to eventually be the 70-whatever win team they were and didn’t have a high enough pick to draft him, because I have it on very good authority that they fell in love with him when they worked him out at the G-Spot last week. Smith and Haseley were also drafted prior to 11, so the Sox couldn’t select the “polished college hitter” they seem to have gravitated towards with the new scouting regime. But bygones are bygones. Last you’ll hear me speak of that offseason from Hell. I don’t really like Adell too much. He’s too volatile with too much boom or bust for me at 11, so I’m glad they passed on him, but that’s just one man’s opinion – he could be very, very good in due time. The pure tools he possesses are outstanding.
Jeren Kendall They passed on him so they didn’t love him. This is where Sox fans must have full trust in Hahn, Hostetler and Co. Obviously a lot of mock drafts had him going to the Sox, but there were obvious organizational concerns with his ability to hit professional pitching, regardless of how athletic he is, how good a defender he is, and how good a leadoff hitter he one day could be. If the Sox don’t love him, we shouldn’t be angry they passed on him. We should be very, very happy about this.
Evan White Another polished college hitter. I wouldn’t have hated this pick at 11. Not one bit. He’s supposedly a great athlete that could play a corner OF no problem, yet provides Gold Glove caliber defense at 1b with gap to gap power and little concern about his ability to make hit pro pitching. It would have been a nice, safe pick, and another that would probably provide quick dividends.
JB Bukauskas Really good pitcher right now. But… he’s maxed out physically. Very well could wind up in the bullpen and after watching him throw a lot in the last day or so, I would be concerned with his ability to stay healthy. He short arms the ball and leads heavily with his elbow prior to releasing the baseball. That said, he has nasty shit and would he have added to an already crazy deep nuclear arsenal of White Sox pitching depth. He also has good command and will be a really fast riser for Houston. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he is helping them out of the pen during the playoff push this year in fact. Long shot, but plausible as well. Anyone else was either never going to get to the Sox or never going to be drafted as early as 11. This was the fat, meaty part of the curve. Enter Jake Burger:
See what I did there? Also, what kinda idiot chews gum while getting a picture taken of him? That’s day one stuff ya dingbat. Anyways, after all we just talked about, the Sox draft Jake Burger. Do I hate it? Not whatsoever. Are people going to rabble rabble rabble and call for Hahn’s head at the pick, simply because no mocks had him being selected this high? Probably, but most fans are ill-informed. This kid can rake. He’s sneaky athletic too, despite his bigger frame, by all accounts.
Tale of the Tape
Frame 6’2”, 220. He’s basically built like a middle linebacker, not a first round Big League draft pick. Not slow for how big he is, but obviously not gonna be a 30/30 guy. What we hope is that eventually he is like a 30/2 guy. He’ll be a corner IF/ DH and everyone knows it. And that is fine. There are two more drafts where the Sox can draft 5 tool guys, especially in 2018 when they’ll have a top 5ish pick.
Collegiate Offensive Production Jake Burger wasn’t a player who was drafted to provide Gold Glove defense or play a premium position. That goes without say. This was a dude who was drafted to mash baseballs to the fucking moon. And in 3 seasons at Missouri State, that’s what he did: No, it’s not the SEC. I honestly couldn’t name another team in Missouri State’s conference TBH. But it’s division baseball and this is a dude who just walked more than he struck out. Even in a mid-level conference like the (name of Missouri State’s conference) there’s gonna be a Friday starter who throws 90+ on most teams with the ability to command 2-3 pitches for strikes. When you’re walking more than you’re striking out against division 1 pitching over the course of 700+ at bats, you’re getting drafted and probably very high. This selection follows the recent organizational trend of preferring hitters who have the ability to draw walks, work counts, recognize spins, and hit balls to the moon.
Swing I’m already in love with this pre-pitch shimmy, hellooooooo ladies:
There is a lot I like about his swing and a few things I’m more ehhhh about. One thing I love about his swing is how loose he is:
Just free and easy, love love love it. That part is great; but though his feet/legs are fine he’s not going to generate torque and power or turn his body into a catapult because of crazy flexibility in his core like some players do, because he physically will never be able to. His hips are just too tight and unless he really, really hits the yoga mat they always will be. He’s going to compensate for this by generating his power from being a 6’2” 230 pound bowling ball frame. His swing is level and stays through the zone for a while, which explains his great contact numbers in college, which will lead to gap-to-gap power. He won’t be hitting towering 500′ bombs like Aaron Judge in my opinion, he’ll be hitting line drives that are pissed on 20 feet off the ground that barely carry over the fence. That’s just the kind of swing he has, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s kinda the opposite of Kris Bryant. To each their own. What I don’t exactly like is his arm bar. His lead arm acts eerily similar to Todd Frazier and David Wright. Some players can get away with this, some can’t. This is where we cross our fingers that he’s able to compensate his naturally longer swing due to said arm bar and still time fastballs and recognize off-speed correctly. If he doesn’t have impeccable timing of fastballs, inside pitching can and will eat him alive in pro ball. Dems da facts, Jack. We’ll see if they tweak his swing at all once he reports to his respective assignment.
Semantics aside, this is a kid you just knew Hostetler and Co. would love, and for good reason:
Jake was a guy we identified early in the process back with team USA… Last year we feel like we added the best left handed power in the country, this year we feel we added the best right handed power in the country – White Sox Director of Amateur Scouting, Nick Hostetler
Defense Burger will undoubtedly play a corner IF position. Apparently he’s got decent hands and a really strong arm. Again, that’s not why he was drafted. He was drafted because he can hit, hit and hit some more. Who cares where he ultimately winds up as long as he’s making pitchers’ lives a living hell? That counts for double when Manny Machado is gonna be manning the hot corner in 2019 anyways!
ETA Ideally he’ll shoot up the system. Assuming he signs, he’ll start in Winston-Salem and if all goes according to plan, ETA would be 2019. That fits the timeline for #ProjectRebuild perfectly. I’m guessing he’ll sign a tick below slot value as well, so the Sox can now go try to hit a home run with their 2nd pick. All in all, this is a pick I am very content with. Burger, along with Evan White of Kentucky, were the two available players at 11 I would have been completely content with. Sure, I wish they could have drafted Beck, but I don’t love or hate this pick any more than I would have loved or hated another selection of a college bat in Haseley or Smith either. The only picks I would have really been again personally were Kendall or Adell, but that’s just my worthless opinion. Follow @barstoolwsd