Like many recent draftees, Jake Burger has had a whirlwind month since getting selected by the White Sox with the 11th overall pick. That's why a week into his professional career, he's just trying to soak in the process.
"I don't really want to go into [the first season] with any expectation, I just want to have fun with it," he said. "It's an experience a lot of people are going to go through, so I'm just going to have fun with it and do everything the White Sox ask of me. Everything I think I can accomplish is right in front of me, so I'll just keep on going and don't put any expectations on myself."
The 21-year-old third baseman had an impressive South Atlantic League debut on Friday as he went 3-for-3 with a double and two runs scored in Class A Kannapolis' 7-5 win over Hagerstown in a rain-shortened, seven-inning game at Intimidators Stadium.
Gameday box score
"I know I was super-excited to get up here, so I had to tone those nerves and excitement down," said Burger, who began his week by playing four games in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
Batting fifth for the Intimidators, the Missouri State product singled on a line drive to left field against Suns starter Tyler Watson in the second inning before scoring the game's first run on a double by Zach Remillard.
Burger ripped a double to center on a 2-0 count against Watson in the following frame before tacking on a line single to right in the fifth.
"There hasn't really been any adjustments for me," he said. "I'm sure it will come up, but as of now, not really. It's pretty similar to college pitching, so the same type of approach I have at the plate typically works against that. I'm just trying to stay as short as I can and into the ball as quick as I can."
As a junior at Missouri State, Burger produced a .328/.443/.648 slash line with 22 homers, 13 doubles and 65 RBIs in 63 games this past season, earning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year honors. A three-time All-American, he also finished second in Division I with 21 homers as a sophomore.
Since signing with the White Sox for $3.7 million on June 20, Burger has been bouncing between states in preparation for his first professional season.
"I spent some time with my famliy and friends and celebrated the pick, obviously, but I was also getting in the cage with some of my hitting coaches back home, just working out and trying to stay fit and loose for the season," he said. "I need my body to feel healthy because this is right after a college season.
"The time down in the AZL has been fun. I met a lot of great guys in the organization. It's a grind down there with the heat and everything, but it was awesome meeting the coaching staff there. Me and [White Sox second-round pick] Gavin Sheets are both excited to get here and start playing. It's a great organization to be in and I'm just happy to be here."
Remillard finished with two RBIs along with Casey Schroeder and Grant Massey, while Aaron Schnurbusch chipped in two hits.
Yosmer Solorzano (3-7) was credited with his second complete game of the season, allowing five runs on eight hits and two walks with three strikeouts over seven innings.