The thought of Garrett Crochet taking the Chris Sale path to the major leagues was all the rage on draft night.
A month later, it doesn't sound like White Sox fans should get their hopes up.
Crochet was one of 16 players named to the White Sox "taxi squad" on Tuesday, a group of minor leaguers who will work out in Schaumburg to stay ready in case injuries or underperformance at the major league level necessitate their presence on the active roster. But with 13 of the players currently in big league camp mathematically prevented from making the Opening Day rosters, these additional 16 guys strike more as backups to the backups.
Crochet is a different case, though, as he's been talked up as a pitcher who could arrive in the bigs in a hurry - expressing his own desire to take on that challenge on a recent edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast - with stuff so good there were people on TV on draft night speculating that he could be a weapon in a 2020 pennant race.
But though he agreed that Crochet has "present major league stuff," White Sox head of player development Chris Getz made it sound pretty unlikely that the team that's been so patient with its prospects during its rebuild would suddenly thrust someone with no pro experience into the big league spotlight.
"We feel like he has present major league stuff," Getz said Tuesday, "but really it's about getting him here, getting him comfortable with our staff, shaking hands, getting to know you, know our philosophies and watch him develop this summer. That was the plan for Garrett.
"He doesn't have too many innings under his belt. And then you factor in a layoff like everyone else, we want to build him up appropriately. But we also just want him to get comfortable with being a White Sox. We'll certainly start with one inning and tack on two innings. There's some pitch-development things we're certainly going to work on with Garrett.
"He does have present major league stuff, without question, but our job on the development side is to get the most out of this player. ... I don't think we need to necessarily focus on a major league radar for Garrett, I think it's more just getting comfortable with the organization."
It figures to be challenging enough for major league veterans to be able to perform at the top of their game after a months-long layoff and a brief three-week ramp-up to a 60-game regular season. Crochet has never thrown an inning of pro ball, and he made just one start during his junior year at the University of Tennessee. In his collegiate career, in total, he pitched in just 36 games.
White Sox fans were hopping mad when the team wouldn't promote Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert at the ends of dominant minor league seasons, after they'd spent multiple years in the minor leagues. Crochet has nowhere near that level of experience, and the COVID-19 pandemic limited his ability to play at any level.
As good as the stuff might be, it would be one heck of a gamble to throw him into a major league season, especially one where every game is expected to be dripping with meaning in a two-month pennant chase.
Of course, front-office types don't like to make end-all, be-all declarations, and so not even Getz would say "never" to the thought of Crochet making a sprint to the bigs. But it sure sounds like the White Sox have a bunch of priorities ahead of making Crochet a part of their 2020 bullpen.
"In an environment like this, it's tough to rule anything out," he said. "Garrett's a talented player, but the focus is truly just to get his foot in the door here and get around our guys and we'll go from there."
Why it's unlikely Garrett Crochet will pitch for the White Sox in 2020 originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago