With the eleventh pick in the 2020 Major League Baseball draft, the Chicago White Sox drafted Garrett Crochet, a big framed left-handed fireballing starting pitcher from The University Of Tennessee. Crochet was previously drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017 in the 34th round of the amateur draft but decided to up his draft stock by going to college. This panned out for him as he launched himself all the way to the first round of the Major League draft just three years later. Crochet had a huge 6’6″ 218-pound frame and comparisons to Chris Sale quickly followed the selection. When Crochet was drafted by the Sox, he was drafted as a starter.
When the pandemic shortened season went down in 2020 with just 60 regular-season games, the Sox were in need of bullpen help and decided the time to bring Crochet up was now. When the Sox let Crochet make his debut on September 18th, 2020 it came as a shock to many as Crochet had no minor league experience. That is not to say this had never been done before, but it was and remains rare. The last player to skip the minors completely prior to Crochet was Mike Leake in 2009. Chris Sale was the last White Sox player to reach the majors in the same year as being drafted when he accomplished the feat in 2010.
Crochet came out firing on all cylinders and seemed much less than intimidated by the biggest stage in baseball. Facing eventual teammate Brian Goodwin as his first-ever hitter, Crochet threw fastballs blistering by Goodwin with two of them topping 100 miles per hour, eventually striking him out on a fastball looking at 100 miles per hour. There was no doubt the kid had and has an electric arm. Sox fans were excited, and rightfully so. Crochet finished 2020 with the Sox throwing only six innings over five games giving up three hits and zero earned runs. Being a late-season call-up, the innings pitched was not something to be concerned with.
Crochet would return to the major league club in 2021 and remain in the bullpen as the White Sox did not want to thrust him into the starting rotation so early in his career. Again, this was the right move. Crochet was not ready to throw 150 plus innings and could not provide what the Sox would need from a starter at the major league level. During the 2021 regular season, Crochet was again very good. The flamethrowing lefty would finish his regular season with a 2.82 earned run average, and a 1.270 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched). Crochet would also be good in the postseason posting zeros in the earned run average category but giving up five hits and a walk over just 2.1 innings pitched striking out four. While Crochet has a 100 mph fastball in his backpocket, Crochet seemed to back his velocity down a touch in 2021 with an average fastball velocity of 96 in 2021 becoming more of a pitcher rather than just a thrower.
So what’s next for the big lefty on the southside? Do the White Sox still view Crochet as a starter getting his legs under him in the bullpen to begin his career? With absolutely zero minor league experience under his belt, this is seemingly case at least for 2022. With Michael Kopech joining the rotation in 2022 and Reynaldo Lopez likely getting the innings Kopech will not throw due to his injury history and lack of a full season experience, where does Crochet fit? Nowhere near the rotation for now. Crochet will most likely fill the same type of roll he did in 2021 in the bullpen coming in ahead of guys like Aaron Bummer, newly acquired reliever Kendall Graveman, and lock down closer Liam Hendriks. The White Sox should look to add another piece or two to that bullpen especially if they plan on trading Craig Kimbrel.
While the Sox are and should be looking at 2022 as a contention window wide open season with aspirations of a World Series championship, the long term plan for Crochet should remain adding him to the rotation at some point in the distant future. For now, the White Sox need him in their big league bullpen as a quality bridge to the eighth and ninth innings when starters fall short of seven plus innings.
Before adding Crochet to the rotation possibly in 2023 or later, the Sox probably should send him to the minors to stretch him out and see how he handles the workload as a starter. A full year in the minor leagues would be less than ideal for Crochet, but whatever is necessary for him to be properly conditioned for the roll prior to being thrust into the rotation, should be allowed. When he is 100 percent ready and the Sox need him to start, great. Until then, get used to seeing one to two innings from Crochet consistently. He has been really good for a kid with zero professional baseball experience thus far, and the Sox should refrain from changing his role likely throwing a wrench into what seems to be going so well.
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