White Sox draftee Crochet 'living out a dream'

Chicago selects Tennessee lefty with No. 11 overall pick

June 11th, 2020

CHICAGO -- It didn’t take long after the White Sox selected Garrett Crochet with the 11th pick overall in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft on Wednesday night for the comparisons to begin.

The 20-year-old left-hander, who pitched for the University of Tennessee, received an Andrew Miller mention from the MLB Network crew. And then of course, there was the link to Chris Sale.

That comparison makes a great deal of sense when considering Sale was taken 13th overall by the White Sox in the 2010 Draft and made his Major League debut out of the bullpen two months later. Sale stands at 6-foot-6, 180 pounds, while Crochet checks in at 6-foot-6, 218 pounds.

They both possess wipeout sliders and electric fastballs, with Crochet working his way into the 97-100 mph range this past fall with a high spin rate already in place. Sale and Crochet also have a little deception or funkiness to their respective deliveries, making it tough for hitters to pick up.

But before Crochet is further lumped in with one of the best pitchers in White Sox history, he simply wants to enjoy being the top selection for a burgeoning young team on Chicago’s South Side.

“I’m definitely living out a dream right now,” said Crochet during a Wednesday Zoom call. “It’s something if you would have asked me a few years ago, I might not have envisioned myself here. But this past offseason, I really was grinding, and I was really working hard with this in mind.”

Mike Shirley, the White Sox director of amateur scouting overseeing his first Draft, pointed out how far Crochet has come since he was a 5-foot-11, 175-pound 16-year-old and throwing in the mid-80s at Ocean Springs High School in Mississippi. It’s that potential upside that stands as one of the exciting factors for the White Sox with this pick.

“He can be a [No.] 3 starter. That's going to continue to unfold,” said Shirley on the same Zoom call. “There are some hopes that he's more than that in our room.

“We think we got a piece of the puzzle that has a high ceiling. In terms of floor, I'll hope he hits the ceiling. How about that? You always want to have some safety net, but if he pitches the ninth inning, how about that for a good floor?”

Crochet’s 2020 season was hampered at the outset by shoulder soreness, which he termed Wednesday as a strained muscle. During the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which also cost Crochet the ’20 season, he has been following through with his workout and bullpen program and feels as if he could be ready to help the White Sox out of the bullpen in whatever incarnation of a season eventually is presented for ’20.

As a freshman with the Volunteers, Crochet posted a 5.51 ERA in 17 games with 62 strikeouts over 63 2/3 innings. He had a 4.02 ERA over 18 games as a sophomore, with 81 strikeouts in 65 innings, and he struck out six over 3 1/3 innings in his lone start this season.

The Draft continues today with Rounds 2-5. The MLB Network preview show begins at 3 p.m. CT, with live coverage on MLB Network and ESPN2 beginning at 4 p.m. CT. Go to MLB.com/Draft for complete coverage, including every pick on the Draft Tracker, coverage and analysis from MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft and @MLBDraftTracker on Twitter.

This 11th pick in the first round has a slot value of $4,547,500, and the White Sox 2020 bonus pool stands at $7,764,800. Shirley said pitching continues to be the focus for Day 2 of this abbreviated Draft, covering Rounds 2 through 5, after Crochet became the third southpaw taken by the White Sox in the first round since '10.

Carlos Rodón, the third selection in 2014, needed just 34 2/3 innings in the Minors before joining the White Sox in ’15. Sale arrived even faster and anchored the starting rotation two years after a 'pen stint. The comparisons are inevitable, with Crochet even trying to shape his slider along the lines of Sale’s same dynamic pitch.

“He was definitely a mentor for me that I kind of viewed from social-media platforms and just watching as he played,” Crochet said.

Shirley simply wants Crochet to focus on his personal development.

“I told Garrett Crochet, 'It’s an outstanding piece of your life to be compared to Chris Sale, but please proceed as being Garrett Crochet,'” said Shirley, who smiled when he heard the Sale comparison question. “Chris Sale has been a great member of the White Sox, as all of our fans know.

“If that comes to fruition, I think we’ll all be super excited. It's exciting what he's going to attack hitters with and what he's capable of doing as we proceed.”