White Sox still in awe of Garrett Crochet: ‘A unicorn, Randy Johnson-esque’

Taking on Garrett Crochet is something crooners don’t even want to joke about.

The three-figure fire Crochet unleashed on big league batters just months after his draft – and after the minor league season was canceled before he had any work experience – was nothing short of mind-blowing. If it weren’t for an injury that knocked him out of Game 3 of the AL Wild Card Series and exacerbated the White Sox’s bullpen pitcher save, who knows what would have happened.

Crochet knocked out eight of the 22 hitters he faced in five regular season games, allowing only three of them to reach base. He threw 72 fastballs at an average speed of 100 miles per 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 shared Thursday. β€œHe’s (a) tough competitor, leader type. I said, ‘You know, we’re really going to show everyone what a leader you are, on the first day of BP, (I’m going to) use you against Crochet there.’ He gave me a look like, ‘That’s not really a smart move.’

“I think everyone knows there’s not a batsman who’s looking forward to playing him.”

Crochet is shaping up to be something of a superweapon from the White Sox’s already stacked bullpen this season. Front office members have already previewed his role as a multi-inning threat. La Russa, famous for his bullpen magic, started smiling before Thursday’s question about Crochet even finished, suggesting he was actually excited to pick the No. 13 in last summer’s draft.

Anyone who saw the radar gun light up with repeated readings of 101 miles per hour at the end of last season needs no reminder of how special Crochet could be for a White Sox team with World Series expectations. But even the guys who’ve watched flamethrowers their whole lives can’t quite believe what they see when Crochet steps up the hill.

“Crochet is something I’ve never seen before, like the white whale or the unicorn,” fellow White Sox fellow Evan Marshall said Thursday. “The 6-7 left throwing 99-103, that’s Randy Johnson-ish, and you don’t see that very often.

“You always call BS when someone says, ‘Yeah, he throws like that.’ Until you see it for yourself, you don’t fully understand how good he is and what his future holds.

β€œI was just watching him throw like a casual bullpen a few days ago, he just drops it in the glove at 97 without even trying.

“I’m glad he’s on my team because that’s going to be a problem for a lot of people.”

The White Sox are counting on that, of course.

The bullpen is generally there to give opponents seizures. It features baseball’s best closer in Liam Hendriks, two seasoned setup men in Marshall and Aaron Bummer, a couple of youngsters who’ve had great 2020 seasons in Codi Heuer and Matt Foster, and maybe even Michael Kopech, depending on how creative the White Sox are going to be.

But even among this group of elite utility weapons, Crochet is perhaps the most popcorn-worthy of the bunch.

Hendriks jokingly lamented Thursday that many of his new White Sox teammates are gigantic β€” “monstars,” as he called them β€” a description that certainly fits the towering Crochet. If he’s any monster, it’s Shawn Bradley’s. But I don’t think Bradley whipped baseballs at 101 mph from 60 feet.

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

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