The Chicago White Sox have several decisions to make this offseason in an effort to not only get back to the playoffs next year but advance well beyond the first round. Making the playoffs for the second consecutive year was a nice step to take but it doesn’t ease the pain of getting bounced in the fashion they did against the Astros in the American League Divisional Series.
Based on how this team is constructed right now, landing proven talent outside the organization to fill areas of need might be the best way to help get the White Sox over the hump. In doing so, however, it would limit the opportunities available for prospects looking to make the big club.
However, depth is a key for any successful club and there is one farm hand who might be able to see his name on the 26 man Opening Day roster in 2022. Jake Burger got a taste of the big leagues this past season, appearing in 15 games and delivering 10 hits in 38 at-bats. While posting three doubles, one triple, and one homer, he also struck out a very White Sox-like 15 times.
Despite the strikeout rate in small sample size, scouting reports say there is some nice upside to his game. 2021 MLB Percentile Rankings listed his exit velocity as being in the 95th percentile through those 15 games while possessing above average sprint speed.
Jake Burger might find himself on the 2022 Chicago White Sox roster on Opening Day.
That is pretty impressive considering his career was halted twice for extended periods due to a ruptured Achilles tendon in 2018 (which he tore during rehab three months later) and then badly bruising his left heel the following year.
While playing third base for Triple-A Charlotte last season, Burger hit .274 with 18 homers and 54 RBI. He had a solid OBP of .332 and .513 SLG for a .845 OPS. While third base is not a need for the White Sox, Burger’s athleticism and power at the plate may be what allows him to make the team as Yoan Moncada’s backup and part-time designated hitter.
Moncada played extremely well defensively at third and the chances of bringing Burger up to play the hot corner and move Moncada over to second on a regular basis seem very slim at best. He would have to adjust like a lot of other players.
The organization was very high on Burger when it made him the 11th pick of the first round back in 2017. His overcoming injuries and being productive when given the chance are a testament to his character and will to succeed.
Of the top 30 prospects in the White Sox organization, Burger, along with outfielders, Blake Rutherford and Micker Adolfo, shortstop Romy Gonzalez, and pitchers Johnathan Stiever and Jimmy Lambert got to experience what life is like at the Major League level this year.
Depending on moves made this winter, it is possible one or more of these players could also find themselves suiting up on Opening Day. Another player to keep an eye on is Yoelqui Cespedes who played last season at Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham.
While chances are he won’t break camp with the club, the 24-year-old outfielder and number two rated prospect in the organization (who took a $2.05 million bonus with the White Sox in January) could find himself playing right field at some point during the season.