CHICAGO -- The focus of the White Sox alternate training camp at the Schaumburg Boomers Stadium in the northwest suburbs of Chicago on Thursday fell upon second baseman Nick Madrigal and right fielder Nomar Mazara, who both could help the Major League team by the start of next week at most likely the latest.
But earlier in the morning, Garrett Crochet, the organization’s top pick in the 2020 Draft, threw a bullpen session and showed off some of his ability possibly in play for this season. There’s a development component clearly involved at Schaumburg, but the main focus of the workouts is getting players ready to help the White Sox.
“Development is always a piece of baseball in general,” said White Sox director of player development Chris Getz, who spoke to the media on the concourse at Boomers Stadium. “There are always things to work on, to fine-tune and prepare these guys. It's a mix of both, but these guys need to be ready because anyone here could be called upon to help our club.”
“If it wasn't in the back of my mind, I probably wouldn't consider myself a competitor,” said Crochet of reaching the Majors. “That's definitely something that I'm thinking about at all time, but I'm trying to juggle the new developments that I'm undergoing. It's kind of hard to focus on trying to make the 30-man [roster] when I just threw a bullpen the day before and my four-seam command wasn't very good. So, it's kind of just managing those two [things] right now, but I'd say I definitely have it in the back of my head at all times.”
Crochet, 21, was taken 11th overall out of the University of Tennessee, with only 3 1/3 innings of shutout baseball thrown by the southpaw this season. Getting acclimated to the organization becomes a major point of his work, and Crochet already has made adjustments to the grip on his four-seam fastball while still trying to get more consistent with his slider.
Getz emphasized Crochet is getting better with each side session or bullpen.
“We've got some things we're focusing on right now, and he's taking to it fairly quickly,” said Getz of Crochet, who has worked with Minor League pitching coordinator Everett Teaford and Triple-A Charlotte pitching coach Matt Zaleski in Schaumburg. “He's a guy that takes to instruction very well. We've seen quick adjustments and that's a sign of a guy that's going to be able to make the proper adjustments as a big leaguer.”
“I’m getting more and more comfortable in the environment and with the coaching staff,” Crochet said. “I’m trusting the little tidbits of information they are feeding me. I definitely would say each bullpen has progressed, but I still say I’ve got a ways to go.”
In a normal Minor League season, Crochet’s career probably would have started somewhere such as Class A Kannapolis and he would have the chance to reach Double-A Birmingham. But in this season adapted due to the coronavirus pandemic, Crochet is working in modified intrasquad games while learning from the seven coaches in Schaumburg and some of the Major League-ready talents.
Mazara, who is on the 10-day injured list for a reason not disclosed by the team, has been working to get his legs under him since arriving in Schaumburg on Tuesday. According to Getz, the left-handed-hitting outfielder had nine at-bats Wednesday and was hitting the ball hard again on Thursday during batting practice.
Madrigal, the organization’s No. 4 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, figures to be the team’s everyday second baseman sooner than later. He has impressed all those around him since Summer Camp, including Crochet.
“Just his hand-eye coordination -- he gets to a lot of pitches that you wouldn't expect him to get to just by looking at him in the box,” Crochet said. “He is definitely a world-class talent, and it was awesome to watch him here in practice.”
“We know what he can do defensively,” Getz said. “What really is going to separate him is getting comfortable in the box, creating rhythm and focusing on pitches he can hit. He's pretty close. It's purely putting him in a position to succeed when he gets there. His starter kit is pretty good, as is, but we want to make sure we're getting the most out of him right out of the gate.”