CINCINNATI – At the beginning of 2020, he was still pitching in college, looking forward to a full season of outings at Tennessee.
But the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans and created some new ones for Garrett Crochet, and it’s meant a very quick rise up the ranks in Major League Baseball.
With a short season canceling the entire minor league baseball season, and the White Sox looking for some bullpen help before the playoffs, the team’s first round pick from this past June made his first professional appearance in an MLB game.
It’s a unique feat for the 11th overall pick, but he didn’t look intimidated in his first outing with the White Sox.
The rookie left-hander had a brilliant debut, striking out a pair of batters in a perfect sixth inning in a 7-1 White Sox loss to the Reds.
He hit over 100 miles an hour on the radar gun six times, fanning Brian Goodwin and Jose Garcia before getting Tucker Barnhardt to ground out.
“I’m truly living the dream,” said Crochet after his debut. “It’s pretty hard to put into words. It’s something I didn’t necessarily foresee for myself a year ago today but it’s something that’s kinda been building up and something I’ve been looking forward to.
“I’m just glad I was able to get out there today and just kinda helping the team any way I can.”
What Crochet did was something that wasn’t pulled off in a decade – bypassing the minor leagues entirely before a major league debut. Pitcher Mike Leake was drafted by the Reds in 2009, playing in the Arizona Fall League before joining the Cincinnati rotation in 2010.
Crochet didn’t have that much time, since he pitched only one game for the Volunteers before the COVID-19 pandemic ended his college season. Since he was drafted, he’s been working with the other players at the White Sox alternate sight in Schaumburg, putting in work but not taking part in any games.
“I’ve kinda been thinking about it every day and night since I was added to the alternate training site of what it would look like for me to make my debut and if I could potentially do it this year,” said Crochet of how he prepared to pitch if needed. “So my confidence was steadily rising throughout that entire time just as I continued to visualize it over and over again.
“After tonight, it’s still going up.”
While his performance was strong, Crochet admitted he had some nerves taking the mound for the first time in his career. How much he takes it again will depend on how much he’s needed, especially as left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer continues to work back from a left biceps strain in time for the playoffs.
For the meantime, with his strong debut in his mind, Crochet will remain ready for when what the team might need in this final stretch.
“It’s a challenge that I welcome with open arms and something that I look forward to continue doing,” said Crochet, who got as good of a start as he could have hoped for on Friday.