White Sox Still in Awe of Garrett Crochet: ‘A Unicorn, Randy Johnson-Esque'

Sox still wowed by Crochet: 'A unicorn, Randy Johnson-esque' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Facing Garrett Crochet is something hitters don't even want to joke about.

The triple-digit fire that Crochet unleashed on big league batters just months after being drafted — and, with the minor league season cancelled, before gaining any professional experience — was downright jaw-dropping. If it hadn't been for an injury that knocked him out of Game 3 of the AL Wild Card Series and exacerbated the parade of pitchers out of the White Sox bullpen, who knows what might have happened.

Crochet struck out eight of the 22 hitters he faced during five regular-season appearances, allowing just three of them to reach base. He threw 72 fastballs, with an average velocity of 100 miles an hour.

In other words, stepping into the batter's box against this kid is no laughing matter.

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"I was kidding Adam Eaton," new South Side skipper Tony La Russa relayed Thursday. "He's (a) tough competitor, leader type. I said, 'You know, we'll really show everybody what a leader you are, first day of BP, (I'll) put you in there against Crochet.' He gave me a look like, 'That's not really a smart move to make.'

"I think everybody knows there's not a hitter around who is going to look forward to standing in there against him."

Crochet is shaping up to be some sort of super weapon out of the White Sox already stacked bullpen this season. Members of the front office have already previewed his role as a multi-inning threat. La Russa, famed for his bullpen wizardry, started smiling before Thursday's query about Crochet was even finished, indicating he was indeed excited to deploy the No. 13 pick in last summer's draft.

Anyone who watched the radar gun light up with repeated readings of 101 miles an hour at the tail end of last season don't need a reminder of how special Crochet could be for a White Sox team with World Series expectations. But even the guys who have been watching flame-throwers their entire lives can't quite believe what they see when Crochet steps on the mound.

"Crochet is something I've never seen before, sort of like the white whale or the unicorn," Crochet's fellow White Sox reliever Evan Marshall said Thursday. "The 6-7 lefty throwing 99 to 103, that's Randy Johnson-esque, and you don't come across that very often.

"You always call BS when somebody says, 'Yeah, he throws like this.' Until you see it for yourself, you don't fully comprehend just how good he is and the future he has.

"Just watching him throw like a casual bullpen a couple days ago, he's just dropping it in the glove at like 97 without even trying.

"I'm happy he's on my team because that's going to be a problem for a lot of people."

That's what the White Sox are counting on, of course.

The bullpen, in general, figures to give opponents fits. It boasts the best closer in baseball in Liam Hendriks, two veteran setup men in Marshall and Aaron Bummer, a couple of youngsters who had terrific 2020 seasons in Codi Heuer and Matt Foster and perhaps even Michael Kopech, depending on just how creative the White Sox get.

But even among that group of elite relief arms, Crochet might be the most popcorn-worthy of the bunch.

Hendriks jokingly lamented Thursday that a lot of his new White Sox teammates are gigantic — "Monstars," as he called them — a descriptor that certainly applies to the towering Crochet. If he's any Monstar, he's the Shawn Bradley one. But I don't think Bradley was whipping baseballs at 101 miles an hour from 60 feet away.

So, yeah, you can see how that would be a problem for anyone trying to get a hit off him.

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