Sports

White Sox promote former first-round pick Jake Burger, option Yermín Mercedes

USATSI

The Chicago White Sox announced a series of roster moves on Friday, ahead of their series against the Detroit Tigers. Outfielder Adam Eaton was activated from the injured list; infielder Jake Burger was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte; and reliever Zack Burdi and designated hitter Yermín Mercedes were farmed out.

With due respect to Eaton and Burdi, the most notable individuals here are Burger and Mercedes.

Burger, 25, will be making his big-league debut. Since being drafted 11th overall in 2017, he’s appeared in just 93 minor-league contests because of the global pandemic and various injuries, including two instances of a torn Achilles tendon. 

Burger, who hadn’t played in a regular season contest prior to 2021 since his draft year, had spent the season in Triple-A. There, he’d hit .322/.368/.596 with 10 home runs in 42 games. The White Sox had him crosstrain at second and third base; the latter is his natural position and he’s not regarded as a good defensive player. He can hit a bit, though his free-swinging approach could sabotage his efforts to become more than a platoon-bat type.

To some extent, that sounds a lot like Mercedes. He had an historic start to the season, becoming the first player in modern history to start a year with eight consecutive hits. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to keep the good times rolling. After hitting .415/.455/.659 in April, he’s since batted just .196/.264/.272 in his subsequent 174 trips to the plate. 

Mercedes appears to have been done in, at least in part, by his overaggressive nature at the dish. Factor in his lack of secondary value, either in the field or on the basepaths, and the White Sox could no longer justify carrying him on their roster. 

The White Sox will enter play on Friday night with a 48-32 record on the year, good for a five-game lead in the American League Central.




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