MINNEAPOLIS — In Matt Klug, selected in the 38th round of the MLB Draft, the White Sox picked a high school senior you probably will be rooting for even if he doesn’t have much of a baseball-playing future.
Klug lost his mother, who died in November 2016 after bouts with COPD and emphysema, and his father, who battled cancer for seven years, a year later.
Klug, from Brookwood (Georgia) High School, was a part-time outfielder on his team, but he was such a full-time inspiration to his teammates that his coach, Titus Martin, nominated him for a local Positive Athlete award that Klug won.
Tools? Klug pales in comparison to the other Sox draftees taken in the last 20 rounds Wednesday. Makeup? The others might have to get in line behind Klug.
“It’s been the worst two, three years anybody could imagine,’’ Klug said. “A stretch of unexpected experiences and tragedy. It will knock you down, but my parents would have wanted me to get back up, to be as positive as I could be. I know they’re proud of me. I’m sure my dad is looking down, going crazy that I got drafted.
“[Losing my parents] kept me humble. You know how valuable every day of life is.’’
Sox scout Kevin Burrell suggested the selection of Klug, who was drafted in the same round as Mark Buehrle in 1998. While Klug won’t actually sign and play, his selection has been in the works for weeks.
“I was on a plane reading an article [about Klug], and it really struck a chord with me,’’ Sox scouting director Nick Hostetler said. “Kevin was fully on board, and we wanted to make sure it was something Matthew would be encouraged by. To do something to help a kid who has been through what he has, you’re proud you can do it.”
When Burrell called Wednesday to tell him he had been drafted, Klug broke down in tears.
“I was speechless,’’ said Klug, who will get a jersey and other gifts from the Sox. “My coach knew it for about a month. What I’ve gone through, it just meant everything to me.’’
Eleventh-round pick Kelvin Maldonado, a high school shortstop from Puerto Rico, was the Sox’ top target on the final day of the draft, Hostetler said.
Hostetler also was pleased to get Miami Hurricanes third baseman Romy Gonzalez in the 18th round.
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Avisail Garcia tested his right hamstring by running on the bases for the first time since suffering a Grade 2 strain and will test it again Thursday, hoping to go on a rehab assignment next week, he said.
† The Sox’ starting pitcher Saturday in Boston is listed as TBA, but left-hander Carlos Rodon is expected to make his season debut. Rodon is with the team after completing his rehab assignment following shoulder surgery in September.
† Trayce Thompson (.129/.185/.248) is producing far below left-handed-hitting Daniel Palka (.282/.313/.555, six home runs), but he started against right-hander Jake Odorizzi as Palka works “on his defensive skills so he can help us and put himself in the lineup more consistently,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. Designated hitter Matt Davidson’s return from a back injury also will cut into Palka’s at-bats.
† After the game Wednesday, the Sox optioned left-hander Aaron Bummer to Class AAA Charlotte. A corresponding move will be made Thursday.