One of the biggest question marks surrounding the 2021 Chicago White Sox is the designated hitter position. The team elected to move on from Edwin Encarnacion in the offseason and did not sign a veteran replacement. These circumstances indicated top prospect Andrew Vaughn would be tabbed to fill that role for the club despite only having limited minor league experience under his belt.
When meeting with the media yesterday, White Sox manager Tony La Russa fielded questions regarding the depth of his options at the DH position. His answer indicated Vaughn may have more competition than initially expected, as Gavin Sheets and Jake Burger will also be considered for the DH spot.
Jake Burger previously suffered a torn Achilles tendon in his left leg twice. He’s never played a game above low-A ball but he looks to get his journey to the show back on track this season. After the two Achilles injuries and a heel injury that kept him out all of the 2019 season, Burger is finally healthy physically and mentally. In 2017, he slashed .271/.335/.409 over 200 plate appearances for the Kannapolis Intimidators and never made it past Spring Training the following year. This season, he has the opportunity to bounce back and fight for his spot.
Gavin Sheets most recently played for the AA Birmingham Barons, where he slugged 22 home runs and drove in 144 runs between the 2018 and 2019 seasons. The 24-year-old is also looking to bounce back after missing last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is a big body who could also cover first base responsibilities if needed.
Even with La Russa mentioning Burger and Sheets as part of the conversation, Andrew Vaughn is likely still the favorite for the White Sox DH position. Through 55 games between low-A and high-A in 2019, Vaughn slashed .278/.384/.449 with six homers and 36 RBIs. While that’s not a plethora of experience by any means, the 2019 third overall draft pick is by far the most highly touted bat in the White Sox organization. The hopeful stud out of California, Berkeley is looking to make his case in Spring Training and the Opening Day roster in doing so.