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Chasing his Dreams

Chase Krogman has seen his pro career delayed — but won’t be denied

Sean Williams/South Side Sox

Throughout baseball, the loss of the 2020 minor league season created a huge ripple effect for player development.

This was most evident for minor leaguers drafted in 2019. Having experienced only a taste of minor league action during their freshman campaigns, many prospects were looking forward to establishing themselves. One such player was White Sox outfielder Chase Krogman.

The White Sox selected the sweet-swinging Krogman in the 34th round, but don’t be jaded by the seemingly nondescript draft position. By negotiating a $190,000 signing bonus, the Pale Hose were able to entice Krogman to forego a college commitment to Missouri State. His bonus was the sixth-highest for the White Sox 2019 draft class and was commensurate with the expectations of a typical seventh or eighth round pick. Negotiations between the two sides lingered until July 9, when Krogman signed three days shy of the deadline.

Reflecting on the draft experience, Krogman offers, “My whole life I wanted to be a pro, and I felt like this was my quickest way to make it to the big leagues.”

Not only did contract negotiations delay the outfielder’s debut, but injury reared its ugly head. Krogman pulled up lame in his first game, while trying to score following his first professional hit. A balky hamstring removed him from action for the next three weeks and impeded him for the rest of the season.

In a small sample size-biased 21 plate appearances, the outfielder slashed .190/.227/.190 in seven games for the AZL White Sox. To put things in context, Krogman’s draft class teammate D.J. Gladney had appeared in 41 games and hit eight home runs before Krogman played in his second game. It’s safe to assume his inauspicious debut probably didn’t register on even the most ardent Sox fan’s radar.

The 2020 baseball season was supposed to afford Krogman the chance to separate his identity as a player from the injured version that appeared in the AZL following the draft. However, the Covid-19 pandemic caused a shutdown of Spring Training, and eventually led to the cancellation of the entire minor league season.

Still, Krogman’s future remains bright, as organizational teammate Gavin Sheets tells South Side Sox, “Krogs is a great clubhouse guy with lots of energy. He has a tremendous amount of power for a guy his size, and also has a very strong arm from the outfield. There’s definitely a lot to be excited about with him.”

During his prep career, the 5´10´´, 198-pound Krogman starred for his high school in Liberty, Mo. In addition to serving as an ace moundsman, the lefty established school records for hits, home runs, RBI, doubles and runs scored as a thumping outfielder.

Being born and raised in the St. Louis area, Krogman grew up in the fandom of the Cardinals and idolized Redbirds two-way player Rick Ankiel. Ankiel, who developed as a left-handed pitching phenom, was famously forced to reinvent himself as a power-hitting outfielder when his bright pitching career was overtaken by a case of the yips. Krogman’s two-way status equipped the outfielder with an absolute hose for a throwing arm.

When asked what he brings to the table, Krogman shares with South Side Sox, “I would say my strengths are my bat, my arm, and I really take pride in my baseball IQ.” He also feels that he is versatile enough to slot into any outfield position.

Although the 2020 minor league season was a washout, Krogman was given the opportunity to gain valuable repetitions in last summer’s CarShield Collegiate League, where he and Sox teammate Jake Burger were both rostered. The two Midwesterners had previously crossed paths at the AZL complex when Burger was rehabbing his torn Achilles, and became fast friends.

Burger shares that he feels Krogman is a prospect Sox fans should keep an eye on. “He has what it takes, a lot of baseball knowledge and talent.”

Krogman can’t recall his stats from the CarShield League verbatim, but was told that he led the circuit in batting average, hitting “around .400.” Although the league represented an unconventional development path, the outfielder thought it was a worthwhile experience and articulates, “I learned how to compete and to prepare nightly.”

After the Collegiate League, Krogman joined many of his organizational teammates for the White Sox Fall Instructional League. It was here that he was able to work with coach Ryan Johansen on some of the more analytical parts of hitting, an experience that he found invaluable. Krogman felt that the coach’s emphasis on analytics gave him a roadmap to a more aggressive swing, while keeping both his path and mechanics intact.

“That really started to improve my power when I started swinging with more intent,” Krogman says.

The left-hander describes himself as more of a feel hitter, and explained his mantra when standing at the plate: “I put mechanics aside when in the box. I think about what [the pitcher] has and go full-on competitor mode, and try to hit something hard.”

Another item of interest which is certain to garner “cool points” among Sox fans was that Krogman was able to take live at-bats during quarantine off of National League Rookie and Relief Pitcher of the Year Devin Williams.

Chase hails from baseball lineage, as his father Monte was a farmhand for the New York Mets organization in the late eighties, forced into premature retirement after three arm surgeries. The proud papa describes his son as a tireless worker, an honor student who has always dreamed of playing professional baseball. Monte lauds his son’s commitment and describes him as an “old soul” on the field.

“Ask him what his goals are … he won’t say make the big leagues,” Monte says. “He will tell you he expects to be an All-Star in the bigs.”

That’s the thing about Chase Krogman: He seems to possess the intangibles. When discussing his goals and development, he clearly isn’t thinking about today, or tomorrow — he’s thinking about the endgame, where he wants to be and what he needs to do to get there. Although he hasn’t swung a bat above rookie level he shares, “Every year I’m shooting for the big leagues.” This isn’t arrogance, though, but more of a quiet confidence and personal understanding that if he puts in the work, those dreams can become realities.

Another one of Krogman’s teammates, Tyler Osik, helped sum up why Chase is a name who should be on every Sox fan’s radar.

“Krogman is a guy that you love seeing when you get to the ballpark,” Osik says. “He’s got a charismatic personality and keeps the mood light in the clubhouse. On the field he’s an all-around baseball player, with some serious athleticism and power in his swing.” Osik also commends the way Krogman stays on an even keel, and finds it particularly impressive given his youth.

In addition to his recent ranking as the 38th-best prospect in the White Sox system by Prospects 1500, Baseball America just ranked Krogman as their 30th (and he’ll be revealed as South Side Sox’s No. 40 next month).

With a likely assignment to full-season Kannapolis coming in 2021, Krogman’s MLB ETA is on the horizon (likely 2023 or 2024) — and his outlook is one to be excited about.

Quick Q&A with Chase Krogman

Have you set goals for 2021? What is your New Year’s baseball resolution?
As far as baseball goes, my goal every year is to not only make the big leagues but be one of the top players in the league. I’m also trying to fit more yoga in my routine, so I can get gymnast-like flexibility.

If you could change one rule about baseball, what would it be?
I like how baseball is played now, but if I had to change one rule it would be the universal DH. I like that it adds another hitter to the lineup, and not a pitcher who might lay down a bunt two to three times a game.

Favorite baseball announcer?
Being from St. Louis, I think I have to say Mike Shannon.

In the movie a “Chase Krogman Story,” who are they casting as Chase?
Jeremy Allen White from Shameless, and the reason for that is I’ve been told by countless people that I look identical to him. (Krogman admits he’s never watched the show, but he does bear a striking resemblance to White, who plays Lip in the Bridgeport-themed television classic.)

What is on your music playlist?
I’m definitely a music nerd, so I’ll go from Drake or Lil Baby to John Pardi in the same playlist. My go-tos in no order would be rap, country, EDM, or alternative pop, but you can’t go wrong with any genre as long as the music is good.

Walk-up song?
“This past instructs I would listen to “Baby I Love Your Way” by Big Mountain and it seemed to work, so I might have to stick with that for a while.

Dogs or cats?
Definitely dogs, I’ve always had some kind of dog since I’ve been alive.

Hobbies away from baseball?
I actually started a little day trading recently, but I like fishing, movies, music and working out.”

On pimping home runs
I personally love that the game is starting to normalize pimping home runs and other ways of showing emotions. Growing up, it’s what my friends and I would do in the backyard playing Wiffle ball. It makes the game more fun and exciting, so I think players should be encouraged to show whatever emotion they are feeling at the moment.