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Sale price: White Sox stitch in Crochet at 11

The toolbox is overstuffed — but his role is undetermined

Sale, away: 10 years ago the White Sox gambled on a top-10 value pick at a lower spot and hit the jackpot with the Condor. A decade later, they hope history repeats.
Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the 11th pick in the 2020 MLB draft, the White Sox jumped to snag Garrett Crochet from the University of Tennessee.

The back of Crochet’s baseball card does not impress; his tools, competition level and potential do.

The 6´6´´southpaw boasts a four-seamer that has consistently landed in the upper-90s and has surfaced in training-during-pandemic videos hitting 100 on the gun, with tasty spin rates to boot. Crochet’s second pitch is a slider, and there is some debate over whether his third pitch, a changeup, is pro-ready.

Immediately upon selection, Al Leiter on the MLB Network posed a side-by-side video with Crochet and Sale: The height, condor wings and deceptive arm angle all are close matches. And Crochet, at 218 pounds, is the “after” photo in Charles Atlas in the comic book weight gain advertisement.

As a prep, Crochet was drafted by the Brewers in the 34th round in 2017. With the Volunteers, the lefty threw 65 innings, with a 5-3 record, 4.02 ERA and 81 strikeouts.

With that promise, he entered the 2020 season as a preseason First Team All-American per Baseball America. Crochet was beset by a sore shoulder that limited him to just one game this season before the pandemic shut college baseball down.

In three years, Crochet has been limited to 36 games (13 starts) at Tennessee. He has battled shoulder and back problems, and even a spate of bad luck — a line drive broke Crochet’s jaw in his last start as a sophomore. (But, he’s tough: Two weeks later, with a plate in his jaw, Crochet relieved in a game for Tennessee and whiffed four batters in a 2 ⅓-inning outing.)

The southpaw is the first pitcher drafted in the first round by the White Sox since Zack Burdi in 2016.

Here’s the White Sox release to media:

CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox selected left-handed pitcher Garrett Crochet (CROW-shay) from the University of Tennessee with the team’s first pick (11th overall) in tonight’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Crochet, 20, made one start in his junior season with Tennessee, tossing 3.2 scoreless IP with six strikeouts, before the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was named a 2020 Baseball America Preseason First Team All-American and Perfect Game Preseason Third Team All-American. Crochet, 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, entered the draft rated by as the No. 11 college and No. 3 left-handed pitching prospect and by Baseball America as having the Best Fastball among college pitchers.

During his sophomore season in 2019, Crochet went 5-3 with a 4.02 ERA (29 ER/65.0 IP), three saves and 81 strikeouts over 18 games (six starts) with the Volunteers. He averaged 11.2 strikeouts per 9.0 IP, ranking in the Top 50 in all Division I baseball (45th overall). Crochet finished his college career with a 10-9 record, 4.64 ERA (68 ER/132.0 IP), 13 saves, 149 strikeouts and 10.2 strikeouts per 9.0 IP over 36 appearances (13 starts).

”We are very excited to bring Garrett into the organization,” said Mike Shirley, White Sox director of amateur scouting. “We are talking about an elite left-handed pitcher, who we think will be a starter, with a three-pitch mix. The intangibles that he brings in terms of toughness and athleticism is something we really gravitated towards, and we were very excited to get him at the 11th pick. It’s a great situation for both Garrett and the Chicago White Sox, and we look forward to many great years ahead with this young man.”

Crochet is a 2017 graduate of Ocean Springs (Miss.) High School, where he went 6-4 with a 1.48 ERA and 76 strikeouts as a senior to help guide the team to the Mississippi Class 6A State Semifinals. He originally was drafted by Milwaukee in the 34th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, but did not sign.

Crochet joins first baseman Andrew Vaughn (2019, third overall), infielder Nick Madrigal (2018, fourth), third baseman Jake Burger (2017, 11th), catcher Zack Collins (2016, 10th), right-handed pitchers Zack Burdi (2016, 26th) and Carson Fulmer (2015, eighth), left-hander Carlos Rodón (2014, third) and infielder Tim Anderson (2013, 17th) as the White Sox most recent first-round selections.

Crochet is the third left-handed pitcher selected by the White Sox in the first round since 2008, joining Chris Sale (2010) and Rodón.

Crochet was recommended by White Sox scout Phil Gulley.

The remaining White Sox picks are as follows: 47th (second round), 83rd (third), 112th (fourth) and 142nd (fifth).