The White Sox made Missouri State third-baseman Jake Burger the newest addition to their growing stable of young talent with the 11th overall selection of the 2017 MLB Draft.
Shortly after Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred called Burger’s name on Monday evening, the young third-baseman got a call from Jim Thome, fitting that Thome would call Burger, as Burger grew up rooting for Thome, among other players. In an interview with Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish recently, Burger told Cotillo that he grew up rooting for none other than the Chicago White Sox, and his favorite player was White Sox legend Paul Konerko.
That little tid-bit is the icing on the cake that is another solid selection by Nick Hostelter, the Chicago White Sox Director of Amateur Scouting. Hostelter was coming off of a highly regarded 2016 draft class, and hit a home run in round one on night one of the 2017 draft when he dodged the temptation to select Jeren Kendall of Vanderbilt, who I believe would have been a huge risk at number 11.
With Pavin Smith and Adam Haseley, the two bets fits for the White Sox off of the board as expected, Hostelter and the rest of the powers to be reached a little bit and took the big, strong third-baseman with their first selection, bringing a player to the south side that is going to be a perfect fit with the club and the fans alike.
I said this weekend that if in fact Smith and Haseley were gone, Burger was the guy to go with in my draft profile on the young slugger.
I would not be disappointed if the Sox passed on Jeren Kendall to select Burger, as Kendall’s strike-out rate is more than enough to make him a considerable gamble at number 11. The Luis Robert signing and the presence of Luis Alexander Basabe within the White Sox farm system makes me more comfortable with the White Sox taking a corner infielder in round one instead of an outfielder.
If both Smith and Haseley are gone when the number 11 pick rolls around, Jake Burger is the next best fit for the White Sox in round one.
The newly crowned Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year hit an impressive .341 during the regular season in 2017 and slugged 22 home runs while driving in 63 runs. Widely regarded as the best pure power hitter in the draft, Burger has 43 home runs in his last two seasons at MSU, and owns a lofty right-handed swing with an arm-bar, and generates his power from his pure strength.
One of his only knocks to this point has been on his bat speed, and once his bat speed catches up to his raw power, Burger will be a candidate to slug 25-30 home runs a year at the major-league level for the White Sox.
Defensively, Burger has a large frame for a third-baseman, but won a Gold Glove Award in college, and despite some scattered reports about concern over him sticking at third base at the professional level, Nick Hostelter said on Monday evening that he will in fact play third base for the White Sox. I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t, he has an above average arm, and the intangibles to stick at the hot-corner with the Sox.
One of Burgers most valuable tools, outside of his obvious power tool, is his hit tool. Burger shows excellent command of the zone, and displays the patience at the plate to make him an above average contact hitter as well. Something that is not usually associated with big, slugging third-baseman. Burger has a minuscule strike out rate of roughly 12 percent at MSU, and while that will certainly inflate at the professional level, if he can stay under 20-25 percent, that will bode very well for him.
Outside of his playing abilities, Burger seems like the kind of player that will resonate terrifically with the White Sox fan-base. His last name is going to fit marvelously on a jersey or a sign in the ballpark, the nicknames will be just as great, and in his interview after the selection, Burger said that his favorite movie was Will Ferrell’s frat-comedy “Old School”, and that he loves himself some hockey.
Burger is big, strong, gritty, and wears as much eye black as a professional wrestling character all things that make him a perfect fit for the White Sox, both as a player and a fan-favorite in the not-so-distant future.