White Sox draft pick Tim Elko brings heart, toughness originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Nobody really knows what skillset late-round MLB picks bring to their team in the minor leagues. But, it's clear that the White Sox' 10th-round pick, Tim Elko, brings heart and toughness with him.
Elko was a first baseman at Ole Miss. Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 240 pounds, he certainly brings a degree of power and size with him athletically. To show off his power, he hit 24 home runs in his fifth-year with the Rebels in 65 games.
But, his toughness outweighs any physical skill he brings to the Sox. And while his progression is linear across the numbers in college, it certainly shouldn't have been with the obstacles he faced.
His freshman year he was surrounded by other SEC talent that he couldn't compete with. He played in 29 games, but hit the ball just 11 times to secure a lowly .216 batting average. His sophomore year, he saw 15 more at-bats, but a "nagging injury," according to a story done on Elko, kept him from being more productive.
By the time he reached his junior year, Elko became a stud. Through 14 games he recorded 17 hits and notched a .354 batting average. He recorded 15 RBIs and 12 runs in that small span. But, the Covid-19 pandemic ruined his and his team's season.
Early in his senior season, he didn't miss a beat. He received recognition as the SEC Player of the Week, Bragan Slugger of the Week and Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week.
However, on Apr. 5, in a game where the Rebels were blowing out North Alabama (ended up winning 20-6), Elko ran through first base awkwardly and tore his ACL.
He and his father thought his career might be over.
“My immediate thought was that his career is probably over,” John Elko said in the same Mississippi publication. “It was just a devastating feeling, to be honest with you.”
But, five days later, Elko came back to his parents with news that he could play through the injury with a knee brace. He knew immediately that he would do what it takes to get back on the field, 100 percent healthy or not.
Around a month later, Elko pinched-hit against Texas A&M and blasted a three-run home run.
For the rest of that season, he hit seven home runs and 18 RBIs all on a torn ACL. The move brought fans to claim Elko should receive a statue outside of their home stadium.
After his senior season, he pondered whether to return for a fifth-year season he acquired from Covid-19 eligibility, or take his chances in the MLB draft. He decided to go back to school with a desire to win the national championship.
He did just that.
The Ole Miss Rebels won their first NCAA baseball championship in school history, giving Elko exactly what he wanted and preparing him for the draft.
In the 10th round of the MLB draft on July 18, the White Sox took him.
Yes, they still have Jose Abreu at first base and just drafted Andrew Vaughn to be the next Abreu. But, Elko brings a certain fighting trait that's rare in any athlete.
The Sox have had a successful draft thus far, rounding out their pitching in the farm and taking a few infielders. While Elko is a late round pick, there's no doubt to what he can bring to the team.
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