CHICAGO -- First baseman Andrew Vaughn and left-handed pitcher Garrett Crochet came up quickly in conversation during a Wednesday Zoom call with Chris Getz, the White Sox assistant general manager/player development.
Crochet, 21, was the team’s top pick and the 11th selection overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, and he joined the White Sox on Sept. 18, 2020, from the club's alternate training site in Schaumburg, Ill. Chicago has ultimately targeted Crochet as a starter, but after fanning eight without issuing a walk over six scoreless innings and ranking second in baseball with 45 pitches at 100 mph or faster in his abbreviated big league time, Crochet looks to be part of the White Sox bullpen once again in ’21.
“Pointing back to last year, the way [Crochet] was used and how effective he was, and you look at this upcoming year with the needs that we have on our Major League club, it’s most likely a best fit for him and our club to be in more of a bullpen role, a multi-innings role, with the understanding that long term, we still view him as a starter,” Getz said. “That experience that you gain in the bullpen, certainly, I think will benefit him.
“He’s a guy that, coming off a 2020 with a lighter workload, a starting workload that for 2022, we have to be very creative. We have to be very cautious of how many innings we put under his belt. And the bullpen role probably is the safest landing spot to accomplish that. Hopefully, we look up at the end of the year and he’s got an ample amount of innings, and therefore, we’re comfortable with him starting the following year.”
Getz wanted to see how the upcoming season played out before committing to Crochet being ready for the White Sox rotation in 2022 as opposed to needing Minor League innings as a starter.
“The hope would be that he can transition as a starter the following year, but there are certainly plenty of unknowns here,” Getz said. “I just know that he’s ready for this year to start. He’s excited for the role that’s been given to him, and any White Sox fan or baseball fan is going to enjoy watching him pitch.”
Vaughn, 22, has just 205 Minor League at-bats from the 2019 season on his resume, topping out at Class A Advanced Winston-Salem in the Carolina League. But Vaughn's plate approach was very impressive during Spring Training last year, a skill he maintained during Summer Camp and at the club's alternate training facility.
There’s no guarantee Vaughn will break camp as Chicago's designated hitter, but he will get the bulk of work at the spot, with the White Sox opting not to add a veteran DH, a decision based on far more than budget considerations.
“What separates Andrew is his mentality, his makeup, how under control he is in the box, his discipline to sticking with an approach that works for his swing,” Getz said. “Certainly, it was unfortunate that we weren't able to send him off to an affiliate, but we were lucky to get him at the alternate site and get a significant amount of at-bats against very good competition, perhaps against pitchers that he wouldn't have faced had he gone to an assignment like Double-A Birmingham.
“He was facing Major League pitching in Summer Camp, and then at the alternate site, we had upper-level pitchers there and guys that had spent time in the Major Leagues. He was certainly one of the more consistent hitters that we had there. He has a very sound approach at the plate, and we feel that that's going to translate very well in the big leagues when he's asked to perform at that level.
“So, I wouldn’t be surprised if that question is asked,” Getz added. “I would certainly share with them that he is ready to help this team.”