Indiana University's two-sport loss has become a major gain for the White Sox.
I'm referring to Colson Montgomery, the team's top pick in the 2021 Draft, who was selected 22nd overall. The left-handed-hitting shortstop, who was committed to play baseball for the Hoosiers and walk on the basketball team, was rated as the 25th-highest prospect at the time of his selection. During his first full season in the Minors, Montgomery has surpassed those lofty expectations.
Over stints with Single-A Kannapolis and now High-A Winston-Salem, Montgomery has reached base in 45 straight games. He's hitting .326 with a .915 OPS to go with six home runs, 14 doubles, 33 RBIs and 42 runs scored.
Montgomery was a selection straight from Southridge High School in Huntingburg, Ind. With the 2022 Draft beginning Sunday night, could the White Sox go the high school route again with their first pick after not picking a high school player in the first round since 2012 with Courtney Hawkins? Their current overall Minor League system ranks near the bottom, partially because much of their elite younger talent is contributing to a team fighting for a second straight American League Central title.
They have even younger developing players such as Montgomery opening some eyes around baseball at the lower levels. So, adding to that nucleus is one way for them to go.
"It's just balancing not only workload management, but development as well," said White Sox assistant general manager/player development Chris Getz of development for high school picks. "And that's why it does take some patience, and these guys are starting to show what they are capable of doing. And I think that patience is going to pay off here shortly.
"Iron sharpens iron and I feel like these players competing on a nightly basis will be some of the best players we have in our system. It's a very motivating factor. They have an opportunity to show off their skills to each other but also the industry."
MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis has right-handed pitcher Cade Horton from Oklahoma going to the White Sox in his latest mock draft. Callis also mentions Kumar Rocker as another great fit for an "organization lacking in upper-level pitching prospects." Tucker Toman, a switch-hitting high school third baseman out of South Carolina, also could be in play, as could a handful of collegiate outfielders.
It's speculative at that 26th pick range of the first round. But the White Sox will be looking for the best player available, as they showed last year by drafting Montgomery with All-Star Tim Anderson in place. The 6-foot-4 Montgomery could play other positions, but he believes he'll stay at shortstop.
"I feel like I'm proving that right now," Montgomery said. "I'm showing I can play short with how I'm playing the position, how I'm doing defensively and all that stuff.
"I'm just like, 'If you think I'm too big to be at short, I'll show you I can play shortstop and I can do this.' A lot of people think I was going to be having a hard year or whatever, and I'm just going out and just trying to prove that I can do it."
First pick and bonus slot: The White Sox first pick overall is at No. 26. The bonus slot is $2,788,000.
Additional first-day picks: Their second-round pick checks in at No. 62 (bonus slot value of $1,158,600).
Total bonus pool: The total for the White Sox is at $6,289,100, which ranks only above the Giants ($5,793,200) and the Dodgers ($4,221,400).
Last three first picks
2021: Infielder Colson Montgomery, Southridge High School (Ind.)
2020: Left-handed pitcher Garrett Crochet, University of Tennessee
2019: Infielder/outfielder Andrew Vaughn, University of California
Best pick of the last 10 years, per MLB Pipeline: Anderson, 2013
Anderson has become one of the best hitters in the game and will make his first All-Star Game start and second All-Star appearance at shortstop for the American League.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa has mentioned veteran Johnny Cueto as an artist on the mound. But current staff ace Dylan Cease is the lone poet, to my knowledge.
The 26-year-old right-hander talked to me this past weekend about a poem he composed about sliders prior to a home start against Toronto on June 21. Cease went out and allowed one hit in six innings while striking out a career-high-tying 11 batters with two walks after his literary foray.
"I was in the shower listening to piano music and I got in a flow state or whatever. And I wrote a poem about sliders," Cease said. "Sometimes I'll do like little freestyles or spoken word kind of freestyles. I don't even know if that one is considered poetry.
"It's just I wrote it down, so I call it that. It's probably technically not a Haiku or whatever."
His poem has nine spots which Cease refers to as a "chorus" followed by nine lines after each chorus.
"This is just more of a one-off kind of for fun happened," said Cease, who said the poem was well-received when he shared it with his teammates after writing it in just a few minutes. "I'm pretty proud of it. I think it's a good poem. I'm excited to release it at some point."
As for when that release will happen, it must be the right feeling, per Cease.
"Within the next couple of weeks, a month maybe," Cease said. "We'll see."
• Ken "Hawk" Harrelson stopped by Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday, and it was truly great to see the iconic broadcaster/baseball personality. He is missed, with of course no offense to the great broadcasters currently working on White Sox radio and television. But I still find myself quoting things Harrelson shared over the years and using his catchphrases in everyday life. He turns 81 years young on Sept. 4 and says he's still watching "Gunsmoke" and "Walker, Texas Ranger."
• Speaking of Cease, he was not voted in as an All-Star by the players or with MLB's six AL selections. Five of those selections went to teams without an All-Star. Even if Cease is not picked as a replacement in the next week, his first-half numbers clearly are All-Star worthy. They might be Cy Young worthy before the 2022 season is complete.
• Four games at Progressive Field vs. the Guardians. Four games against the Twins at Target Field. It's certainly not make-or-break time with the first half concluding following this stretch, but a good White Sox showing could go a long way in indicating this team's direction. Of course, a rough showing could do the same. The White Sox had a 3-4 mark as of Monday in this stretch of 19 straight vs. the AL Central.
• "I already joked with [Andrew] Vaughn. He turned a 6-3 into a 3-1. It's always nice to show off the athleticism and show everybody I've still got a little something in there, but as much as I look unathletic doing a lot of things, I can still do some things." -- White Sox closer Liam Hendriks, on his leap at first base to corral Andrew Vaughn's throw for the first out in the ninth inning of a 4-2 victory over Detroit on Sunday
• "If he had six at-bats against him, he would show you something different every at-bat … Talented, great command, great arsenal and he's smart." -- La Russa, on the twists and turns and pitching guile of Cueto
Reynaldo López has become a valuable contributor from the bullpen, but he's also the owner of the last one-hitter thrown by a White Sox starter, taking place on Sept. 5, 2019, at Progressive Field. Who had the lone hit for Cleveland in that White Sox victory?
A.) Kevin Plawecki
B.) Jake Bauers
C.) Mike Freeman
D.) Francisco Lindor
The White Sox clinched their first AL Central title since 2008 on Sept. 23, 2021, with a 7-2 victory during Game 1 of a doubleheader at Progressive Field. They scored six in the second with three home runs off Aaron Civale.
His second-inning double sailed over the head of right fielder Ryan Goins, who primarily played infield, and scored Bauers, who had walked. The White Sox won, 7-1, and López struck out 11 and retired the last 16 hitters faced in a complete-game effort.
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