The White Sox deviated from general consensus and selected a true masher in Jake Burger at No. 11 overall. Originally pegged to go for a plus athlete in either Beck or Kendall, the latter of which was still on the board, Chicago was drawn to one of college baseball’s best power bats. Burger was likely drawn to them as well, as he grew up a White Sox fan and held an affinity for Paul Konerko per an interview with SB Nation.
School: Missouri St.
Position: Third Baseman
Height/Weight: 6-2, 220 lbs
Previously Drafted: N/A
2017 Stats: .328/.443/.648 (1.091 OPS), 13 2B, 22 HR, 65 RBI, 43 BB, 38 K, 247 AB
Power. Power. Power. After hitting just four home runs as a 19-year-old freshman at Missouri St., Burger hit 21 and 22 bombs in his last two seasons. Yet, he doesn’t carry some of the typical caveats that usually come along with power hitters. Burger has the type of swing-and-miss in his game more reminiscent of a contact guy (15.4 percent last season) and has displayed an OBP above .400 in each of his last two seasons. In fact, his K/BB was 0.88 this year, which is rare for power hitters but well done when it comes to Burger.
It’s significantly lower than the 2.23 and 1.52 K/BB ratios he posted his freshman and sophomore seasons respectively but serves as a sign that Burger is developing an eye. At just 21 years old, it’s possible there’s even better plate discipline to come which is a scary notion to opposing pitchers.
At 6-2 and 220 lbs, Burger generates his power mostly through the physical strength in his build. His mechanics are smooth with a nice stride and he gets the ball through the zone. One issue to note is a slight hitch in his swing and an arm bar, which was mentioned on MLB Network when he was selected. Analysts compared the mechanics to current White Sox Todd Frazier, who generates big power but has issues treading water average-wise. This could also give him some difficulties with inside velocity, which he’ll see more often in pro ball.
The good news is that Burger has the looks of a guy who will make contact at a higher rate which will obviously bode well in his power playing at the next level. He’s also not relegated to first base or DH as he has the chops to stick at third, with a solid arm and some mobility. His big frame means he’ll need to stay attune to proper conditioning, but he projects to be at least average at the hot corner.
The run tool is the one that grades out a little below average, but this isn’t necessarily a base clogger. It’s simply one of the common trade offs with power bats and with 70-grade power, Burger has some of the best boom in his stick in the entire first round.
In a vacuum, he’s a more polished college bat who should move quickly through the system. In context, it’s an unexpected selection only because a tailor-made Chicago arm in J.B. Bukauskas was still on the board. Jeren Kendall was there as well, who is a more dynamic package, but carries more risk than Burger. There’s little doubt Burger will hit his way to the bigs; the same couldn’t be said about Kendall and his flawed swing. There’s an argument 1B Evan White would have looked good here, a truly clean bat with hedging tools in his glove and footspeed. That said, there was no other bat with the type of discipline and extreme power offered by Burger. Pavin Smith had the discipline but not necessarily the same degree of pop. With a thin depth chart at third base, there’s a little bit of a “need” feel to this selection, but Burger’s talent definitely fit in the first round so it’s hardly a reach. Burger has some bang in his bat and as someone who may sign slightly underslot, hopefully Chicago will get some bang for its buck as well.
Nick Hostetler said #WhiteSox think Jake Burger sticks at 3B. “Strong arm,” “good feet.” Thinks he has 25-30 HR power, top RHH power bat.
— Dan Hayes (@CSNHayes) June 13, 2017
When Nick Hostetler and Garret Guest met with Burger, he stopped before the interview started and told them he’s a huge Sox fan
— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) June 13, 2017
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