You've got to love that new car smell.
Now, I don't know what kind of deodorant Garrett Crochet uses. But the White Sox feel they got the freshest model of their new draftee, someone who's gone through quite the transformation in just a few years.
"Garrett, the 2020 version of him, it's almost like a new car," White Sox scouting director Mike Shirley said after making the pick Wednesday night. "You want the 2018 version or the 2020?
"The first pitch he threw at the University of Tennessee was probably 85 miles per hour, 84 miles per hour. Now he's anywhere between 95 to 100 miles per hour," Shirley said. "That's a testament to his work, to the University of Tennessee, to his desire to get here. It speaks volumes to where he started his college career to where he's ending his college career."
Apparently there's quite a difference. At 16 years old, Crochet was 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds. Now, he's 6-foot-6 and 217 pounds.
The Chris Sale comps are flying in with the speed of one of Crochet's 100 mile an hour fastballs. But he's got a bigger body than the famously lanky former South Side southpaw.
That's another new feature in this year's model.
"After breaking my jaw (after getting hit with a line drive last year), I made the decision to stay home for the summer, and that led to a series of workouts and a weight-training program that I felt like ultimately benefited me … more than I had received in my past two years of college," Crochet said. "I felt like I was eating better and working out better, and that led to me getting stronger and having a better body-fat percentage that I feel like ultimately led to my velocity jump and just overall increase in my stock."
Though the White Sox are planning for Crochet to be a big league starter, with Shirley evaluating the lefty's ceiling as a No. 3 in a major league rotation, he made just 13 starts in his 36 collegiate appearances. All but one of those came during his freshman and sophomore seasons, with his junior year all but completely wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a freshman, he had a 5.51 ERA in 63.2 inning. That number plummeted to 4.01 in 65 innings as a sophomore. And while a dozen starts in those two seasons and just one this year doesn't seem like a lot to go on when drafting a starting pitcher, the progress he's made since the end of his sophomore season - the new features on the 2020 model, if you will - made the White Sox confident enough to select Crochet at No. 11.
"(Last year) a few guys started texting me, ‘Hey, Garrett is throwing really well. You might want to go see him.' I went to the Fall World Series," Shirley said. "That's the day I proceeded to watch him. Garrett Crochet was like 96 to 101 on the guns with a wipeout slider. It was too intriguing of a piece to walk away from.
"Garrett Crochet has done a magnificent job of adding about 11 pounds of structural strength to his frame after (pitching for) Team USA as a fall starter. We talked about the nutrition, the strength development.
"This guy is trending in the right direction. He's going in the right direction."
Who knows what kind of road Crochet or any of the players selected in this draft will take on their way to the majors. With the minor league season expected to be wiped out by the pandemic, there won't be much in the way of development to be had this year. And remember he pitched in just one game during the college season before it was shut down. So by the time the 2021 season rolls around, it will have been a long layoff, to say the least.
Will the White Sox put the jewel of their 2020 draft class on the major league squad or on the proposed "taxi squad" for no other reason than to get him some work? The idea of "Sale-ing" him to the big leagues was bandied about in the moments after he was drafted, which is as much a testament to his superb stuff as anything.
But the way the White Sox have refused to rush their top prospects during these last few rebuilding years - and Rick Hahn's devotion to keeping his team competitive for as long as possible into the future - could point to that being unlikely.
Whatever the road looks like, though, the White Sox have high hopes their "new car" can keep traveling in that positive direction.
"I think he can be a (No.) 3 starter. That's going to continue to unfold. There are some hopes that he's more than that," Shirley said. "We think we got a piece of the puzzle that has a high ceiling."
White Sox got latest model of Garrett Crochet: 'It's almost like a new car' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago