Prospect Abbott taking lessons from pool to field

8th-round pick split time between water polo, baseball in high school

December 22nd, 2017
AZL White Sox first baseman Sam Abbott (24) at bat against the AZL Padres on July 31, 2017 at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona. AZL White Sox defeated the AZL Padres 2-1. (Zachary Lucy/Four Seam Images via AP Images)Zachary Lucy/AP

CHICAGO -- Sam Abbott carried many athletic plaudits from high school upon his arrival to the White Sox in the eighth round of the 2017 Draft.

Strangely enough, many of those accomplishments were in the pool as a swimmer or water polo player as opposed to on the baseball diamond. But the Washington state native seems as excited about this new professional challenge and singular career focus as the White Sox are to have him.

"It's everything that I've always wanted it to be. It's a dream come true," Abbott said during a recent interview. "I love every minute of it, playing baseball every single day. It's what I wanted ever since I was 2 years old. I'm just grateful I'm in this position and grateful for the White Sox to pick me."

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Abbott's name doesn't get mentioned as part of the rebuild's critical mass of talent because he is a work in progress. The 18-year-old, who hit .225 over 102 at-bats and 31 games with the organization's Arizona Rookie League team after being selected, previously played summer and high school baseball.

Abbott's time was really split between water polo and baseball, meaning he wasn't beaten down within either sport.

"So there was room to grow any sport I wanted," Abbott said. "That really helps me with baseball, and I can take lessons I learned from the pool and apply them here."

Mental toughness stands as one trait from swimming Abbott spoke of transferring over to baseball. Of course, the on-field skills ultimately will dictate how far Abbott goes, but striving to learn and improve certainly won't be the shortcoming for this powerful left-handed-hitting first baseman.

After going to Arizona for White Sox instructional league during parts of September and October, Abbott chose to join and Luis Robert for the team's instructional league at its Dominican Academy in November. This interesting career path really began when Abbott attended a pre-Draft tryout at Guaranteed Rate Field in June and his swing and power caught the attention of executive vice president Ken Williams and future Hall of Famer Jim Thome, who serves as a special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn.

"The thing for us with this kid is the fact that he hasn't played a lot, but because the power jumps out at you, which it did in his workout, for me, that's where this could get really intriguing," Thome said. "The little bit of time that we've actually spoken you can tell he comes from a really good family, and the fact that he just looks like he's got the true package of a gentleman but also an athlete. That stands out."

When Abbott met Thome, he admitted to trembling a little bit when shaking hands. Now, they are working together to help Abbott fulfill his dream.

"Baseball is the hardest sport in the world," Abbott said. "It's a process day in and day out. It's month after month and game after game and season to season. It's the work you put in now, and then next year, and the year after that will pay dividends later on in my career.

"I'm just doing the best I can every single day and whatever happens, it happens. I control what I can control."