DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. – George Wolkow has always been the biggest kid in school.
“If you look at photos of me in elementary school, I would always be a head above everybody. I graduated middle school probably around 6’4″, 6’5″.”
Now a hulking 6’7″, 239 pounds, the 17-year-old out of Downers Grove North is ready to play with guys more his own size – after the White Sox selected him in the 7th round of the MLB draft.
“I knew there always a chance because I saw they were taking some college guys, so maybe they had a chance to save some money. I finally got that call and it was a dream come true.”
“There were two notes in the makeup that were really important,” explained White Sox Director of Amateur Scouting Mike Shirley. “We do a makeup profile on the player that the area scout is required to dive into about the dynamic of who the kid is. Two words – kind and confident. Kind and confident were big words in terms of his profile because comprehensional learning curve means you’re kind or you care about others, so you’re going to listen. Number two – confidence. The supreme being in our game is confidence.”
Wolkow is ranked the 71st overall prospect by MLB pipeline. Even though he slipped to the 7th, he elected to start his pro career over a scholarship to South Carolina, following in the footsteps of his favorite player growing up, Bryce Harper – putting in extra work to graduate early and reclassify,
“Almost modeling some of what I did after him – like going and playing in the Northwoods and challenging myself with Power 5, D-I players as well as being able to make that jump a year early,” Wolkow noted. “Overall, I was able to fill in all my credits in just the one school year. I took two English classes. I opted for an online financial literacy course out of school, kind of like an online self-paced class, to complete my NCAA requirements just so I could have my eighth period free for baseball this year.”
The big swinging lefty prides himself on his athleticism and his ability to hit the ball a long way.
“I’ve got the best raw power in the draft. I’ll hit a ball farther, harder than anybody. I think being able to do that at 17 is just the start.”
“Size? Yeah, it’s crazy. Nate [George’s dad] is a big man. He was a defensive tackle at Western Michigan as a football player. You think about the body size Nate had and you get those genetics from your father,” Shirley remarked. “They talk about that MLB Combine – we were watching him in a suite up above Chase Field. We were watching him take BP and throw. Just to see him unlock these tools on that Major League field, we were up there going ‘Oh boy.'”
Wolkow says he wasn’t strictly Sox or Cubs growing up, but a Chicago fan. Still, to play one day at Guaranteed Rate Field, just 20 miles from where he grew up, would be something special.
“It would mean the world to me. That would be unreal – an unreal experience, an unreal feeling. But, really, it would be a blessing and great opportunity to do so. To be able to go out and help a team that I grew up watching, loving and have that opportunity to go out and make an impact and bring the White Sox home that World Series.”
“This is our fan base. These are the people that sit in our backyard. We care about our fans. We care about the prospects that lie in this state,” added Shirley. “To land-bolt these guys, to put them in White Sox uniforms for White Sox fans to be a part of the culture, we feel fortunate.”
As for individual goals, Wolkow is aiming for heights to match his 6’7″ frame.
“My goal is to be a Hall of Famer. It’s an individual goal and one that I will set very high for myself. I feel like I can be a leader on the field. For me, the goal is to bring home the Chicago White Sox a World Series. By doing that, for me, it’s about going out everyday and trying to be the best version of myself. The sooner I can do that, the better.”
“Let’s give the kid the credit for having the confidence to say that or having the driven goal at 17-years-old to know what he’s trying to do. Most people would never say that because that’s risky. When we evaluate these kids, we almost look at them like, ‘How much risk is the player willing to take?’ Think about the risk George is taking. I’m going to graduate high school early. I’m going to bypass South Carolina – the SEC school where I could really make myself a formidable prospect in three years. Number three – I’m going to jump into the greatest challenge I’ve ever been faced with as a human being in being a professional athlete,” Shirley said.
“We believe in the kid. We believe in the family dynamic, most importantly – how he’s been raised. I think that’s the most unique part about George.”