First Round Freakout: Some Thoughts on the White Sox Selecting Garrett Crochet
Take a deep breath, relax, and wait to see how things play out here.
The first round of the 2020 MLB Draft took place last night, and boy, are Sox fans #MadOnline about the selection of Tennessee Volunteer LHP, Garrett Crochet. Crotchet will come to the Sox organization with some electric stuff, a fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper 90s, occasionally hitting triple digits, and a slider that has received plus grades from scouts. There is some belief that Crotchet has the potential to be on the taxi squad for the 2020 season and could be utilized in the bullpen in the season’s final weeks.
Draft night comps to former White Sox legend, Chris Sale, were aplenty from evaluators and Sox fans alike. Sale too was a wiry, LHP with a low arm slot and some tantalizing stuff on the mound when he was selected 13th overall out of Florida Gulf Coast University in 2010. Sale was in the bullpen for the Sox by August of that year as the team made an ill-fated attempt to reach the playoffs. Sale would spend one more season in the pen before transitioning to the rotation in 2012 and becoming arguably the greatest pitcher in White Sox history (off-field issues do not apply to this statement).
However, there are some significant differences between the two pitchers and some things that give me cause for concern with the selection of Crotchet. Since 2010, the Sox have selected four pitchers with their first-round draft picks; Sale, Carlos Rodon in 2014, Carson Fulmer in 2015, and Crotchet last night. Here are the collegiate breakdowns for the hurlers:
As evidenced above, Sale’s elite control/command combination was on display at the amateur level and has fully translated to bigs, as he has been one of the top-five starters in the game for close to a decade when healthy. The other three hurlers on the list give cause for concern. I think we can all agree that Carlos Rodon and Carson Fulmer have not lived up to their first-round pedigrees, and their control/command issues at the college level have not really improved since joining the Sox system. Crotchet falls in between Rodon and Fulmer on this spectrum, and similar to Sale and Fulmer he has spent time between both the rotation and bullpen.
The control/command issues are my biggest concern with the selection of Crotchet. We never saw the issues improve with the Sox two most recent first-round pitching selections, so I think we are left hoping for further projection out of Crotchet. Additionally, changes to the minor league pitching program under the likes of Everett Teaford and Danny Farquhar could help Crotchet improve his pitch mix and straighten out mechanical flaws that contributed to the inconsistencies with the aforementioned control/command.
We’ve seen players like Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease rave about the Sox new “pitching lab” at Camelback Ranch, so it appears the organization is finally getting caught up to other progressive organizations around the league. These developments could help pitchers like Crotchet fully tap into their potential and overcome deficiencies they were previously unable to overcome.
With all this being said, I am not in love with the pick. Selecting at #11, I would ideally like the team to go with high school upside or polished collegiate arms. Crotchet still has some upside, according to members of the Sox front office, but that still is not the strategy I would prefer to see them deploy at that spot. However, the idea of selecting a collegiate pitcher without a long track record of success that dealt with shoulder soreness in this pandemic shortened season, makes me feel uneasy personally.
Now, I need to turn my attention to the freakout I saw throughout Sox Twitter last night. First, I want to address the comments of new scouting director, Mike Shirley.
People have really lost their minds about this comment. Did Shirley speak a little too candidly after making his first draft selection? Perhaps. However, the subsequent freakout among Sox fans is excessive. I saw many comments that at #11 the Sox should be selecting a #1 starter. The fact is, there are about 10-15 of those in the sport. So if a scouting director comes out and says he believes a pitcher has #1 starter potential, he’s essentially saying the player will be one of the top 10-15 pitchers in the game. Newsflash: those guys don’t grow on trees.
Now, I’m very open to debate about whether the Sox should’ve taken Crotchet, a guy that may end up ultimately being a reliever. If he can’t fix his control/command issues, that’s really all he will be. In my view, that’s not a good use of the pick, no argument there.
There was also a tremendous amount of outcry over the team not selecting Mount Carmel SS, Ed Howard. I’m on record saying if I was making the pick I would’ve taken Howard, but people are already sketching his Cooperstown plaque and that is a little presumptuous. I think there’s a sizable portion of the fanbase that wanted Howard — a guy many didn’t know existed a month ago — because he fits a convenient narrative.
So many on Twitter are assured that he’s going to be a multiple-time All-Star despite being 18 years old and barely playing a senior season. It’s obvious that a lot of this consternation is because of who ended up drafting Howard, but it’s just over the top. Do you know who was the last high school player the Sox drafted in the first round? Courtney Hawkins in 2013, and how did that work out? I’m sure you’re going to say that Hawkins didn’t have Howard’s pedigree, but people seem to forget that Hawkins was the Gatorade High School Player of the Year…in TEXAS! A place that has far better competition than the Chicago Catholic League. So let’s slow the roll on Howard haunting the Sox (again, I say this as someone who would’ve taken Howard).
The fact is Howard going to the Indians or Twins later in the first round would’ve been far more detrimental to the Sox long-term future. The bigger concern for the Sox last night should be Asa Lacy, the Texas A&M southpaw, dropping to the Royals with the #4 selection.
All things considered, the selection of Crotchet is a head-scratcher for me. I’m withholding judgment on this draft until we see what the team does with its remaining four selections. Perhaps they save money with Crotchet, allowing them to take the savings and draft players with signability concerns. This could potentially be a win for the team.
Finally, it is now on the Sox development team to get the most out of Crotchet. There is some loud upside with him, but there is also tremendous risk (in my view more than with other options they could’ve taken). I’m not crazy about the pick, but please for the love all that you hold dear, take a deep breath, relax, and wait to see how things play out here.