The Chicago White Sox attempted to crank up the power in their minor league system in the first two rounds of the 2017 MLB draft. In the first round, with the 11th pick, they selected third baseman Jake Burger out of Missouri State. Looking at the opposite corner, they chose first baseman Gavin Sheets in the second round. Both players hit over 20 home runs in 60-plus games in the 2017 college season.
Chicago White Sox Add Power in MLB Draft
Over its 25-plus-year history, Guaranteed Rate Field has played like a launching pad, making sluggers Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, and Frank Thomas essential components of successful White Sox teams. Couple that with a mountain of pitching talent at the minor league level, and it’s logical that the White Sox decided to add some sluggers through the draft.
Crank up the Power
The right-handed hitting Burger batted .328 with 13 doubles, 22 home runs, 65 RBI, a .443 on-base percentage, and .648 slugging percentage in 63 games for Missouri State this season. His 21 home runs in 2016 ranked second among NCAA Division I players.
Burger’s strength is definitely at the plate. His defensive skills include a plus arm and adequate range. However, his sturdy 6’2″, 220-pound frame gives scouts pause that he may not have the quickness to handle third base at the major league level. His arm strength makes right field a possibility, and there’s always the first base/DH fallback option.
Crank up the Power: Part II
Lineup balance is important in baseball, so with that mindset, the White Sox went with left-handed hitting Wake Forest first baseman Gavin Sheets at No. 49 overall in the second round.
This season at Wake Forest, Sheets batted .317 with 20 homers and 81 RBI. He had a .429 on-base percentage and a .634 slugging percentage, with 44 walks in 227 at-bats. He’s the son of former major leaguer Larry Sheets, who played outfield primarily with the Baltimore Orioles in the mid-to-late 80s. He clubbed 94 home runs over the course of his career, with high of 31 in 1987.
If both players are able to reach the majors, the White Sox may need to add space to the clubhouse. Sheets measures 6′ 5″ and weighs 235 pounds, but unlike Burger, Sheets’ defensive prowess has not been questioned. He provided stellar defense at first base throughout his three seasons in the ACC.
Future Beginning to Take Shape
With the addition of these two players, a potential future lineup is developing for the White Sox. With recently acquired Cuban players Yoan Moncada at second and Luis Robert in center, to go with big leaguer Tim Anderson at short and last year’s 10th overall pick Zack Collins behind the plate, they’re already strong up the middle. Avisail Garcia is having an All-Star caliber season in right field in Chicago, although he’s only signed through 2017. Another position player or two still needs to be identified to round out the lineup. Couple that with the aforementioned pile of pitching prospects, and the White Sox have the makings of a team that could be back in the mix in a couple of years.