White Sox continue college trend, select Garrett Crochet 11th overall

Sean Williams

The 2020 MLB draft kicked things off on Wednesday night, in what's going to be a much different draft than years past. This year only features five rounds, but for the White Sox, there is an additional change with this draft. 

Newly appointed scouting director, Mike Shirley, is running the show for his first draft class with that title. Shirley has been in the scouting department for many years, most recently serving as the assistant scouting director, but this will be his first time taking charge on a draft class.

The draft boards were shaken up early tonight and that left the White Sox in a position where there was plenty of talent available when they were on the clock. Despite prep talent being available, the White Sox continued a trend they are very familiar with.

With the 11th pick, the White Sox selected Garrett Crochet a left-handed pitcher from the University of Tennessee. The Crochet selection marks the ninth consecutive year that the White Sox have taken a player from the collegiate ranks.

Over the last few years, however, the White Sox have leaned towards college hitters, taking them with their last three first round picks. Crochet marks the first college pitcher the White Sox have taken since Zack Burdi back in 2016.

So, what are the White Sox getting in Garrett Crochet? For starters, Crochet has above-average spin rates, and really good stuff. His fastball is a 65-grade pitch, and he was able to consistently sit in 96-100 mph range during the fall — speed that plays due his high spin, according to MLB Pipeline.

Crochet's slider, also possessing above-average spin, sits in the mid-to-low 80's and is tough on opposing hitters due to his arm angle. His changeup is an effective pitch, too, and he uses deceptive arm speed with the offering.

Crochet spent three seasons at Tennessee, where he appeared in 36 games (13 starts). During that span, Crochet owned a 4.64 ERA with 149 strikeouts and 48 walks in 132 innings.

Despite the impressive arsenal, there are some concerns with Crochet. The lack of experience as a starter is a valid concern, and there have been some injuries throughout his college career as well.

In May 2019, Crochet suffered a fractured jaw that caused him to miss time. He did return to the mound just two weeks after the injury to help boost Tennessee to a victory during the NCAA Regionals that year. Additionally, Crochet missed time in 2020 due to shoulder soreness, and made just one start before the season was shutdown.

The missed time for shoulder soreness was more of a precautionary move. There was a lot on the line for Crochet in 2020, with the draft looming, and it seemed like he wanted to make sure he was healthy heading into the next step of his career.

All things considered, this seems like a good fit for the White Sox. The farm system lacks left-handed pitching depth, and Crochet will immediately slot in as the best southpaw in the system. Additionally, the arsenal and above-average spin rates gives him a high ceiling as a starting pitcher.

He needs to be able to stick as a starting pitcher, though. Some scouts say that Crochet could pitch out of the bullpen in the major leagues right now and eventually be transitioned to a starter. White Sox fans should be familiar with a left-handed pitcher who followed that path to the majors (hello, Chris Sale).

Sale has been a very common comparison for Crochet throughout the draft process. Another one that's been floated around is Andrew Miller, with the assumption that Crochet ends up being a bullpen arm.

Overall, I'm intrigued with the selection. The White Sox were able to boost a section of the farm system that didn't have much depth. If he sticks as a starter, that's the best-case scenario. If not, the White Sox just grabbed a potential high-leverage bullpen arm — not a terrible floor, at all.

Crochet seems like someone who could be an underslot value at 11th overall, so the White Sox could be setting themselves up to add some premier talent on day two of the draft, which concludes on Thursday with rounds two-five.

Stay locked in with South Side Hit Pen for live-blog coverage of every pick tomorrow, as well as a post-draft wrap.

Comments (2)
No. 1-1

I don't hate the pick, but the Sale comp doesn't work for me. Sale was a proven starter with no injury history (just a weird delivery). Crochet has no history of going deep into games with his best stuff, and shoulder soreness is always a concern. To get value out of this pick they need to take their time with him and develop him as a starter.