Sox playoff roster: Crochet throws hat in ring at 101 mph originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Rick Hahn admitted before Friday's game that the White Sox will likely take all the time they're allotted to finalize their playoff roster.
Well, after Friday night's game, he might wish the team had some more time. Because there's another thing to think about. And his name is Garrett Crochet.
Obviously, Crochet was already part of the team's calculus when it came to crafting its first postseason roster in a dozen years. Hahn said as much Friday afternoon in explaining why the White Sox first-round pick from this summer's draft was making a lightning-quick leap to the major leagues after having played in a grand total of zero professional games.
But if Crochet showed anything Friday night against the Cincinnati Reds, it's that his rise from the University of Tennessee to the White Sox alternate training site in Schaumburg to a major league squad in a pennant race isn't the only thing that can be described as lightning-quick.
Crochet turned in an eye-popping first inning in the bigs, throwing 13 pitches, six of which hit triple digits on the radar gun and two of which touched 101 miles an hour, in a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth.
Talk about throwing your hat in the ring.
"My body felt weightless. I felt like I was on top of the world and just truly living the dream," Crochet said after the game. "I felt pretty good just knowing I could go out there and get outs at the big league level."
Again, Crochet's lack of experience is remarkable. He pitched in just one collegiate game this season before it was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, and he joined the White Sox organization in a year with no minor league games. He's done nothing but throw in simulated games against his fellow White Sox major leaguers. And then he comes up to the majors and does that.
But just like every prospect that arrived on the South Side before him, confidence is in ample supply.
"I’ve kind of been thinking about it every day and night, since I was added to the alternate training site, of what it would look like for me to make my debut and if I could potentially do it this year," Crochet said. "And so my confidence was steadily rising throughout that entire time as I continued to visualize it over and over again.
"After tonight, it’s still going up."
There are certainly a lot of candidates to make that playoff bullpen for the White Sox. The team is hopeful Aaron Bummer can rejoin the team before the end of the regular season after spending more than a month on the injured list. Ross Detwiler has had a very nice 2020 season pitching in a more defined role in the 'pen, but he's thrown just once since Sept. 8. Jace Fry just returned from the injured list and struck out four of the batters he faced on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Twins.
All those guys are left-handers, just like Crochet. So, too, are Gio González and Carlos Rodón, longtime starting pitchers who, if healthy, could be shuffled to the bullpen if the White Sox so choose. That makes for a lot of southpaws to choose from.
Of course, only one of them can throw 101 miles an hour.
"He was warming up with (James McCann before the sixth inning)," manager Rick Renteria said. "I think Mark Carlson, the umpire, asked (McCann) a little bit of Crochet's history. This is his first game professionally, period.
"(Carlson) said, 'You think he should be here?' And (McCann) goes, 'Well, you let me know after the inning.' So then Mac went back after the inning and warmed up (Steve Cishek for the seventh), and Mark Carlson said, 'Yeah, I think he's OK. He should be here.'
"There you go. ... He's pretty good."
It's just one game, obviously, and the White Sox will likely opt to see some more from Crochet over the regular season's final nine games if they're seriously considering adding him to their postseason roster. But they certainly should, considering the kind of weapon a fireballer like Crochet could provide in the high-leverage world of playoff baseball. As good as the White Sox relief corps has been this season, it doesn't have anyone who can do what Crochet can do. And maybe that gas — and the lack of studying opposing hitters will be able to do on the big league newbie — could end up making a big difference on a big stage.
We'll see what happens from here. But it's hard to have a more impressive start to a 10-day audition, let alone a big league career, than what Crochet managed Friday night, all while battling the expected nerves of a 21-year-old kid facing major league hitters in his first real game since pitching against Wright State in March.
"It’s an incredible feeling knowing they value me to be here and help them on that run," Crochet said. "Just knowing that I was coming into the group of guys that were meshing well and were playing good baseball, I knew I had to just come in and fall in line."
If his first inning was any indication, he might be doing more than that in a couple weeks.