Tuesday, I was told somebody associated with the White Sox would be calling me. I had no idea who it could be.
I picked up the phone, and the person said, "Hey, this is Paul Konerko."
I'm like, "Holy cow." My stomach dropped. My childhood hero is calling me. This really must be a dream come true.
Growing up, Konerko was my favorite player. I've always been fans of players like Konerko and now Paul Goldschmidt. I enjoy watching guys with a good approach. You could tell they're hard workers by the way they go about their business. They're good role models, for sure.
Paul welcomed me to the White Sox. He gave me a great piece of advice. He said, "You have 600 at-bats over six months during a season. If you have two average to slightly above average months, two bad months, and two really good months, that's a really solid season."
In other words, stay cool and keep your emotions in check. He also said, "Don't let anybody outwork you."
Paul gave me his cell number and said, "I'm always here for you." I can't tell you how much that means to me.
I had a similar surreal encounter with another former White Sox player before the Draft. After one of our games, our director of operations at Missouri State pulled me aside and said, "I want you to meet someone." I thought it was a scout.
All of the sudden, the guy standing in front of me is Jim Thome. Wow, I'm getting to meet another childhood hero. Even better, he was there scouting me for the White Sox. After the Sox drafted me, they were saying Thome liked my swing. This guy hit more than 600 homers and is going to the Hall of Fame, and he likes my swing? You can't put that into words.
I've been on cloud nine ever since I heard the Sox call my name on Monday. I still don't know when I'm going to come down and say, "Hey, this is for real. It really happened."
The people of Chicago really have taken me in. I've gotten a lot of comments on my Instagram posts and Twitter with people welcoming me to the Sox, welcoming me to the South Side. The amount of support I've had during the last couple of days has been really special.
I've been busy doing a ton of interviews. [White Sox director of amateur scouting] Nick Hostetler said my makeup and personality are part of the reason why the Sox picked me. I know that's something everyone wants to see and hear in these interviews. I feel like I've done a good job showing myself as a personable guy. I'm down to Earth, and try to treat everyone the same, just like Konerko.
I'm working out, but I've taken a couple of days off from baseball after the end of our season. I'm planning to start hitting again this weekend. It's going to be weird to pick up a bat, knowing I'm a pro player now.
I can't wait to get started with the White Sox. I'm well aware of all the young players they've been bringing in, especially in this Draft. I played with Tyler Johnson (a pitcher from South Carolina selected in the fifth round) and Evan Skoug (a catcher from TCU selected in the seventh round) on Team USA last summer. They're some of my closest friends. It'll be awesome to play with them again.
It looks like we could have a lot of fun here in the next few years. I'm excited to be a part of it.
As told to Ed Sherman.
Jake Burger is a third baseman who was drafted in the first round by the White Sox in 2017. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.