White Sox top Draft pick has 100-mph heat

June 11th, 2020

The White Sox selected left-hander Garret Crochet with the 11th overall pick in the 2020 Draft on Wednesday night.

Here are 10 things to know about the 20-year-old, 6-foot-6 southpaw from the University of Tennessee.

• Crochet brings the heat. The big lefty was working at 96-100 mph with his fastball last fall, and he also has a high spin rate. That's a recipe for swings-and-misses.

Here he is hitting 100 mph on the radar gun in a recent training session:

• The first time Crochet reached triple-digit velo, as far as he knows, was during one of Tennessee's Fall World Series scrimmages in 2019.

"When I came in the dugout, everybody seemed to already know," Crochet said afterwards. "Obviously the juices were flowing, first game of the Fall World Series, but I didn't expect it to be like that.

"It's kind of surreal. It was kind of hard to believe at first. Like, I was trying to see, how many guns picked it up? How many times did I hit it? And I was trying to make sure with our video coordinator as well. But it's pretty awesome."

• How good is Crochet's heater? In a recent Baseball America poll of MLB scouting departments, Crochet was picked as the college pitcher with the best fastball in the Draft. He edged Minnesota's Max Meyer (MLB Pipeline's No. 9 Draft prospect), Dallas Baptist's Burl Carraway (No. 49), Notre Dame's Joe Boyle (No. 166) and Oklahoma's Cade Cavalli (No. 22).

• Crochet pitched against fellow top 2020 Draft prospect J.T. Ginn (No. 44) as a high schooler. Crochet's Ocean Springs team played Ginn's Brandon squad in the 2017 Mississippi state playoffs. Crochet pitched a complete-game victory.

Ginn is now a right-handed pitching prospect at Mississippi State -- he was actually the Dodgers' first-round Draft pick out of high school in 2018 but didn't sign -- but when Crochet faced him in high school, he was also a star shortstop who was hitting .494 with 16 home runs entering their matchup. Crochet struck Ginn out twice and got him to pop out for an 0-for-3 day.

Interviewed by the Biloxi Sun Herald after the game, Crochet said, "I was just really trying to work ahead, get ahead in the count. I was getting him with my fastball and my curveball both."

• In his last regular-season start of 2019, his sophomore year at Tennessee, Crochet was hit in the face with a line drive and suffered a broken jaw that required a plate to be inserted. Not only did he return two weeks later, in the NCAA Tournament, he pitched the Vols to their first tournament win since 2005 with 2 1/3 scoreless innings and four strikeouts against UNC Wilmington.

After fielding a chopper back to the mound in his return, Crochet joked, according to The Daily Times, that "it feels a lot better to catch it with the glove and not your face."

• If you want to follow Crochet on social media, he's on Twitter at @GarrettCrochet and on Instagram at @gcroch34. If you're lucky, he might reply to you with a Game of Thrones or MC Hammer GIF.

• Crochet was majoring in nuclear engineering at Tennessee, per his Vols Baseball bio -- following in the footsteps of former teammate Andre Lipcius, who was also a nuclear engineering major before being drafted by the Tigers in the third round last year.

• Crochet is tied for the tallest player of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Draft prospects for 2020. Oklahoma high school left-hander Dax Fulton (No. 43), Texas high-school right-hander Tanner Witt (No. 53), University of Florida right-hander Tommy Mace (No. 70) and East Carolina right-hander Gavin Williams (No. 91) are also 6-foot-6.

• Crochet was drafted out of high school by the Brewers in the 34th round (1,014th overall) in 2017. His mom broke the news.

"She had been watching the Draft, and she told me that she heard my name, and I was kind of in disbelief at first," Crochet told local news station WXXV at the time. "Then I got a call from the Brewers and they said that they had picked me. So I was excited.”

• That came after Crochet led Ocean Springs to the Mississippi Class 6A state tournament semifinals his senior year, when he had a 1.48 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings. It was a breakout season that helped put him on both the Brewers' and Tennessee's radar. At first, he was planning to pitch at Jones County Junior College. He wound up picking the Vols over Texas and Tulane.