(CBS) It didn’t take long for White Sox scouting director Nick Hostetler to realize how much Missouri State third baseman Jake Burger wanted to join their organization upon a meeting ahead of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament in May.
“The first thing out of his mouth, he wanted to talk first,” Hostetler said in an interview with Mike Mulligan and David Haugh on 670 The Score on Thursday morning. “He didn’t want us to start with questions. He wanted to talk first. He wanted to explain how much he loved the White Sox organization, Paul Konerko.
“He’s a true blue-collar hard-working kid that I think a lot of people can relate to. It played into our decision as far as the makeup and all that, but when you couple it with the impact that he brings with his bat, the ability to get on base, to draw walks and also knock the ball out of the ballpark, when you couple all those things together and put all the pieces of the puzzle together, he’s a perfect fit for the South Side of Chicago.”
The White Sox selected the 21-year-old Burger at No. 11 overall in the MLB amateur draft on Monday following a season in which he hit .328 with 22 homers, 65 RBIs and a .648 slugging percentage in 63 games. Burger was a .339 hitter with 47 homers across three college seasons, and the White Sox considered him the best right-handed power bat available in the draft. The early side of the time frame for Burger to reach the big leagues would be late 2018, Hostetler said.
The White Sox also believe the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Burger will remain a third baseman, though Hostetler has acknowledged first base and designated hitter are possibilities too.
“It’s the same that guys said after we took Zack Collins (in 2016), that he wasn’t going to be able to catch,” Hostetler said. “I think right now (Collins) has thrown out 40 percent of base-runners (in the minors).
“Jake just has that ability to move around. He moves well at third, comes in on balls well. The arm’s a 55-60 arm (on a 20-80 scale). Ultimately, the bat is going to tell us where he’s going to play. If he’s able to hit and he’s able to drive the ball out of the ballpark and he fits into the core with the Moncadas and those types of guys and we need that bat at first base, he might end up over there. He might end up at DH. Ultimately, with this rebuild of (Rick Hahn’s) and the timeline of the rebuild that Rick has put in place, he doesn’t need to be there.
“We can slow down the process and give him ample opportunity to learn the position at third base.”