With the 11th pick of the 2020 MLB Draft, the Chicago White Sox drafted Tennessee junior LHP Garrett Crochet as one of five pitchers they selected. The pick gives the Vols’ pitcher an opportunity to sew into the vigorous fabric that is the White Sox system.
The Chicago front office has been positioning for a sustainable and successful future after several seasons of disappointment. The Sox haven’t made an appearance in the playoffs since 2008. Their last winning season came in 2012. Those abysmal ways are likely to change sooner rather than later thanks to decisions such as the one they made on Wednesday night.
Crochet brings a devastating slider and an elite fastball. According to a poll conducted by Baseball America and aimed at MLB scouts, the left-hander was tabbed as having the best fastball in the draft. As far as his slider, or slurve as some call it, White Sox fans will be happy to know that Crochet modeled his weapon after former Chicago star, Chris Sale. The seven-time All-Star pitched seven years for the White Sox. He posted a 3.00 ERA and averaged 10.1 SO per nine innings in black and white.
While the arsenal is similar, the body types between the two lefties are vastly different. Both stand around 6’6″, but it’s Crochet who carries around 40 more pounds than the veteran. The Mississippi native is listed in the Tennessee roster at 218 pounds. Sale weighs in at 180 according to Baseball Reference. But no matter the contrast, the comparisons to a perennial Cy Young candidate are fitting for Crochet.
What is even more compatible for the Tennessee standout, is the company he will be in once he mobilizes through the White Sox network. According to MiLB.com, Chicago has the No.1 farm system for position players. Outfielder Luis Robert heads that group. The Cuban sensation comes in at No. 3 on MLB Pipline’s list of prospects.
On the big league squad, Crochet should have many to look up to as well. Chicago has already locked up young stars Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez through 2024. The team doesn’t lack for talented arms either. The White Sox are making an effort to match their projected output in the lineup with stellar pitching. Talented young pitchers like Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech should make the job easier for Crochet once he get to the league. These craftsmen will likely accompany Crochet either in the 2021 Spring Training or the following.
The junior only made one appearance for the Vols in 2020. Crochet’s debut was delayed as a precautionary measure to help heal from a strained muscle that occurred as the Vols’ season opened. The pitcher logged 3.1 innings while striking out six batters. Out of his 41 pitches, 32 were called for strikes.
Crochet’s sophomore season was nothing less than profound. The lefty posted 81 strikeouts, placing him second on the team. Perhaps the most impressive feat for Crochet was immeasurable. In a late season conference battle with Ole Miss, the pitcher took a line drive off the chin. His jaw was broken and required surgery. Crochet opted to finish the season regardless. Two weeks later, the sophomore dominated UNC-Wilmington for 2.1 innings in an NCAA Regional game. It was the Vols first NCAA tournament win since 2005.
White Sox faithful should be proud of what they are getting in Crochet. Whether it’s a skill set that mirrors a blast from the past or a glue-guy that will mold well for a vibrant young team, the southpaw’s attributes will knit together just fine with Chicago’s South Side.