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Taking BP at Sox park, Burger lives 'dream'

A lifelong South Siders fan, club's 1st-round pick reflects on Konerko's advice
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- On the day after Jake Burger was selected by the White Sox with the 11th pick overall in the 2017 MLB Draft, he received a call from franchise legend Paul Konerko.

Two weeks later, and with a $3.7 million signing bonus in his bank account, Burger was flexing his muscles during batting practice Monday at Guaranteed Rate Field where Konerko's No. 14 hangs among the retired jerseys.

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CHICAGO -- On the day after Jake Burger was selected by the White Sox with the 11th pick overall in the 2017 MLB Draft, he received a call from franchise legend Paul Konerko.

Two weeks later, and with a $3.7 million signing bonus in his bank account, Burger was flexing his muscles during batting practice Monday at Guaranteed Rate Field where Konerko's No. 14 hangs among the retired jerseys.

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"When I talked to Paul Konerko, he said the ball flies here. Sure enough, it did," said a smiling Burger, who was joined by his father, Mike, his mother, Shannon, and his sister, Ellie, among others, during this special day.

Video: 2017 Draft: White Sox draft 3B Jake Burger No. 11

"It's unbelievable. I loved it," Burger said. "Growing up a White Sox fan, you dream about this as a little kid. I'm very grateful for it and for the White Sox organization to give me a chance."

White Sox 2017 Draft selections

Burger is 21, but the third baseman looks young enough to be carded at local establishments for about the next two decades. He hit .328 with a .443 on-base percentage and a .648 slugging percentage this season for Missouri State, along with 22 homers and 65 RBIs.

His professional career begins with the organization's Arizona Rookie League team and then will move to either Class A Kannapolis or Class A Winston-Salem this year. Before departing Chicago, he deposited a few baseballs into the Guaranteed Rate stands using his own bat.

"I took a deep breath because I was nervous," Burger said. "I got one out and it was second nature after that. I can always be improving my discipline at the plate.

"Trying to get more walks than strikeouts is always my goal. And defensively, always work on my range and doing everything the White Sox ask me."

As a young player, Burger also was a Blackhawks fan, sharing another trait with Konerko in that he was a hockey player first and then came baseball. Burger was a right winger and smiled when adding he "put the biscuit in the basket every now and then." He gave up hockey as a sophomore in high school at age 16, and looks to have made a good choice.

Getting advice from Konerko only enhances the start of his White Sox career.

"Unbelievable. I got a text that someone from the White Sox was going to contact me. I didn't know it was going to be Paul Konerko," Burger said. "Pick up the phone and he's, 'Hey, Jake, it's Paul,' and I'm like, 'OK.' He gave great advice, said, 'Keep my number and call me whenever you need it.'

"The main thing I took from it was you're going to be in a season that's six months long. You'll have two great months, two bad months and two above average months, and you're going to have a great season. Don't let down times get you down too much. And always outwork the guy next to you."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Jake Burger