White Sox Put Out Calls For Bats, And Burger Answered
Heading into the first round of the draft, White Sox scouting director Nick Hostetler had his marching orders.
"I'm not a rocket scientist when I tell everybody we need bats," Hostetler said. "We've needed bats for a long time in this organization."
The White Sox wanted a college power bat last year, when they drafted Miami catcher Zack Collins at No. 10 overall.
They wanted a college bat this year, and they drafted Missouri State third baseman Jake Burger with the No. 11 overall pick.
"Last year, we feel like we added the best lefthanded power in the country (Collins), and this year we added the best righthanded power in the country," Hostetler said. "We identified Jake early and knew that he was the guy who hit-wise was exactly what we wanted."
Burger hit 22 homers for Missouri State while batting .328 as a junior this season, and he batted .339 with 48 doubles, 47 home runs and 179 RBIs in his three years with the Bears.
Hostetler compared Burger to Gary Gaetti.
"He's an offense-first guy," Hostetler said. "He has big, big raw power. We're looking at 25-30-type home run power here."
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Burger is from Chesterfield, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. But the 21-year-old slugger grew up a White Sox fan, thanks to Paul Konerko.
"I grew up watching Paul Konerko and tried to emulate his game," Burger said. "There are no words to describe how pumped I am and excited I am for this opportunity. I grew up and just never really liked the Cardinals. I was playing hockey growing up and was always up in Chicago."
Not only has Chicago been looking for potent college bats the last two draft years, the White Sox want disciplined hitters. With just 38 strikeouts in 247 at-bats this season, Burger fits the profile.
Jake Burger Refuses To Give Up
The 2017 first-rounder remains undeterred even after losing two seasons to leg injuries and then contending with the pandemic in 2020.
"Getting on base is key to the game, and when you can hit the ball out of the ballpark, it's a good added plus," Hostetler said.