In a 2020 baseball season that is expected to be filled with surprises, White Sox first-round draft pick Garrett Crochet already has one before spring training 2.0 even begins.
He plans on pitching in the majors this season.
As a starter? A reliever? He doesn't care. Crochet's goal is to be there with the White Sox. Somehow, someway. He believes he can do it.
"As soon as you say that, there's nothing that comes to my mind other than personally I think I'm ready," Crochet said on the White Sox Talk Podcast. "A lot of other people probably don't think that I am, which is OK, but the standard that I hold myself to and my mentality, I definitely feel like that's something I'm ready for and would accept as a challenge."
Going from college to the majors in the same year during a pandemic might sound like a pipe dream, but Crochet's belief in himself gives you a window into the competitive mind of the 6-foot-6 left-hander who the White Sox chose with the 11th overall pick earlier this month.
Have the chips been stacked against him? Yes, to say the least.
Because the coronavirus ended his college baseball season in March, Crochet pitched in only one game for the University of Tennessee this year. He threw 3.1 scoreless innings with six strikeouts against Wright State on March 7.
In normal times, he would have joined a White Sox minor league affiliate this summer to further his development. No chance this year. Instead, Crochet stayed in Knoxville, Tennessee, lived in his college apartment and did whatever he could to stay in game shape without pitching in any actual games.
So after pitching in only one game in college and having no minor league season, why is he so sure he's ready for the majors?
"Just my mentality and the way I've been preparing since the coronavirus happened. I've been staying in really good shape. I think my bullpens have been going well. With my new and improved changeup, I feel comfortable I can compete at any level of the game," Crochet said.
Monday, the White Sox released their 44-man roster for Summer Camp, which begins Friday at Guaranteed Rate Field. Crochet wasn't on the list, not a surprise considering he was only drafted a few weeks ago. If he hopes to have any sort of chance of reaching the majors in 2020, he'll need to make the White Sox taxi squad, which has 16 additional spots and will be announced in the near future.
The last White Sox first-rounder to go from college to the majors the same year he was drafted was Chris Sale in 2010. Sale, at least, had a full college season and 10.1 minor league innings under his belt before coming to Chicago. For Crochet to do it, he'll need to make the taxi squad and then show enough to the White Sox in intrasquad games that he's ready for the big time.
Can he do it?
Well, he's got a slider that he learned from watching video of Sale.
"I felt like we have similar bodies, so if anybody else would be able to replicate it, it would be me," Crochet said.
And hearing him talk, he sounds like Sale, too.
"I'm a bulldog on the mound. I'm aggressive when I'm out there. I don't really like to lose. I look forward to doing a lot of winning with the White Sox."
Starting in 2020? We'll see.
Garrett Crochet: 'I'm ready' to pitch for White Sox in bigs this season originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago