Disciplined Gavin Sheets Strives For More Power

After being drafted by the White Sox in the second round in 2017, first baseman Gavin Sheets was asked if he modeled himself after any major league hitter.

The Wake Forest product could have gone with the obvious choice: his dad. Larry Sheets was a big lefthanded hitter who played eight seasons with the Orioles, Tigers and Mariners.

Instead, Gavin offered up another comp.

“I’ve actually watched a lot of Jim Thome,” he said. “We both have open stances and he hits for a lot of power. I’ve gotten a lot stronger over the last couple of years, and being able to hone in on what pitches I do damage with will be the biggest key to hitting 20-plus home runs.”

Sheets ranked among Division I leaders with 21 home runs in 2017, but the 6-foot-4, 230-pound first baseman hit just six in 119 games at high Class A Winston-Salem in 2018.

The White Sox expect that number to start rising in 2019.

“Sheets put together a solid season at Winston-Salem in 2018 and was one of the more consistent bats in a talented lineup,” farm director Chris Getz said. “He’s a disciplined hitter who is working on tapping into his raw power. He’s really worked on his athleticism this offseason, and we are expecting another step in the right direction.”

While he didn’t hit for much power in the Carolina League, Sheets hit .293/.368/.407 and finished tied for second in the league with 28 doubles, fourth in on-base percentage and tied for fourth in batting average.

Coming out of college, the lefthanded-hitting Sheets took pride in his low strikeout rate, and that has held up. He has struck out just 16 percent of the time in 2018.

That is good news for a White Sox offense that led the majors with 1,594 strikeouts last season.

Sheets is ticketed for a full season at Double-Birmingham this year, and the goal is to hit for more power while keeping the strikeout count low.

With Jose Abreu entering the final year of his contract, Chicago is likely going to be looking for a first baseman to play in 2020 and beyond.

Sheets has the steady bat and a solid glove at first base. If he taps into his raw power, he would be a good fit.

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