I think the saying goes: “Death, taxes, and the White Sox finding phenomenal Cuban prospects.” However, if you look back at 2017, another top prospect was drafted in the first round by the White Sox. A hint: he’s smashing the ball for the Charlotte Knights and goes great with fries. Today we’re talking about the journey White Sox prospect Jake Burger has been on since the 2017 draft and the likelihood of getting a call up to the majors for the 2021 White Sox season.
Before he was a prospect Jake Burger played college baseball at Missouri State University for the Missouri State Bears. As a freshman, he played in 57 games, hitting .342/.390/.518 and was named the Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year. His sophomore year was even better, hitting .349/.420/.689. He played for the United States collegiate national team after the 2016 season. Burger batted .328 and was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year his junior year.
After being considered one of the top prospects for the 2017 Major League Baseball draft, the White Sox acquired Burger in the first round of the draft. He was the 11th overall pick.
Top Prospect Jake Burger: Short-Lived Minor Leagues
Burger only spent a short time with his assignment with the Arizona League (AZL) White Sox. He was promoted to the Kannapolis Intimidators (now Cannon Ballers) after four games. Burger would finish 2017 with a .263 batting average, five home runs, and 29 RBIs in 51 games between both AZL and Kannapolis.
In 2018, Burger received an invite from the White Sox for spring training. On February 26, he ruptured his Achilles tendon in his left leg and was ruled out for the entire 2018 season the next day. He would miss more time during the 2019 season due to a bruised heel.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 minor league season never happened. Burger joined the CarShield Collegiate league, allowing him to play competitive baseball for the first time since 2017. Burger was invited to the White Sox alternate training site once the summer league ended, and was added to the 40-man roster in November of 2020.
Top Prospect Jake Burger: Fit With the 2021 White Sox?
Now that you know your history on Burger, let’s watch a few of the Burger Bombs happening in Charlotte this season.
Despite jumping from Low-A to Triple-A and missing three full seasons of professional baseball, Burger is hitting .259/.306/.962 at the moment, on par with his 2017 season in college. I find it remarkable that a player that a lot of White Sox fans had given up on or forgotten about all together is now on his way to forcing the issues about a Major League call-up. For those that remember him or are taking notice, he’s been a breath of fresh air as White Sox fans. A lot of fans seem hopeful for his arrival, questioning if he can play any outfield position to end the Jake Lamb and/or Leury García experiments.
While it might be tough to find a spot among the ranks of power DH’s such as Yermín Mercedes, current outfielder and heavy hitter Andrew Vaughn or even Eloy Jiménez once he’s back in the roster, and Yoán Moncada dominating at Burger’s usual position at third, no one knows where he will land. Ideally, he would be up in 2022 if he fits in the roster and stays healthy.
One thing I think most can agree on is the warm welcome he’ll receive the moment he takes the field at Guaranteed Rate Field. At 25, Burger is still young and filled to the brim with talent, and he’s as likeable as he is talented.
Anyone that has watched his story unfold, and others like Burger’s, know how exciting it is when young players get the call. He’s been proving himself in Charlotte, so perhaps it’s only a matter of time.
His baseball journey is special and I can’t wait to see him play in person, hopefully in a White Sox uniform.
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Main image credit Embed from Getty Images