CHICAGO -- When White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler and White Sox midwest crosschecker Garret Guest sat down recently to talk with Jake Burger, the right-handed hitting Missouri State third baseman stopped them before he could ask a question.
"Before we started the interview, he stopped and said, 'I'm a huge White Sox fan.' Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, those were his heroes," said Hostetler after taking Burger with the 11th pick of the first round in the 2017 MLB Draft on Monday night.
:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::
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"It was kind of cool. He blew us away. The makeup was off the charts. He's a great kid. High energy. Lots of fun."
"It's unbelievable. I grew up watching Paul Konerko and tried to emulate his game," said Burger on a conference call, adding he didn't get much grief from Cardinals fans as long as he wasn't rooting for the Cubs. "There are no words to describe how pumped I am and excited I am for this opportunity. There are just no words."
Burger, 21, was ranked 16th on the Draft prospect watch by MLBPipeline.com, and Hostetler expressed confidence they will soon be able to sign him. The slot value at No. 11 is $4,199,200.
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage beginning at 12 p.m. CT. The White Sox put together a list of five guys for No. 11 earlier in the week and they were pretty confident that two of the five were going to get to them.
Deemed an offense-first sort of player, Burger batted .328 with 13 doubles, 22 home runs, 65 RBIs, 69 runs scored, three stolen bases, 43 walks, a .443 on-base percentage and .648 slugging percentage in 63 games for No. 22 Missouri State this season. He finished second in NCAA Division I with 21 home runs in '16.
Of equal importance were Burger's 38 strikeouts and 43 walks over 247 at-bats this past season. Those statistics fit the offensive mold general manager Rick Hahn has set during this ongoing rebuild.
"Huge. It's huge," Hostetler said. "[Hahn] wanted high OBP guys and we are following through with that plan."
"I always hit the ball hard but never had that loft or backspin that people preach about now," said the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Burger, who was named First Team All-America by Baseball America and the Joe Carter Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year. He is a semifinalist for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award.
"It was the ability to kind of change my swing to a more home run/doubles type of hitter."
"Jake was the guy we identified early in the process, back with Team USA, as being the guy we felt had the best right-handed power in the country," Hostetler said. "Last year we feel like we added the best left-handed power in the country [Zack Collins], and this year we added the best right-handed power in the country."
Hostetler points to Class A Kannapolis for Burger, although he might begin at Class A Advanced Rookie Great Falls. Burger joins Dan Haynes (1967), Ted Nicholson (1969), Robin Ventura (1988) and Josh Fields (2004) as third basemen selected in the first round by the White Sox since 1965.