White Sox Nos. 1-2 prospects to take national stage at Futures Game

July 9th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Scott Merkin's White Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CHICAGO -- attended the 2021 All-Star Game and Home Run Derby in Denver as an invited guest after he was drafted No. 22 overall by the White Sox in the first round of the Draft.

If all goes as planned for the White Sox No. 1 prospect and No. 16 overall, according to MLB Pipeline, Montgomery will have a few All-Star Games of his own to participate in, though the Triple-A Charlotte shortstop is far removed from those days.

In the interim, Montgomery is excited to take part in the Futures Game in Arlington on Saturday, along with left-handed pitcher , Chicago’s No. 2 prospect and No. 18 overall, as part of the American League squad.

“It's a great honor, especially with all the great players across the Minor Leagues that you see selected,” said Montgomery over Zoom on Friday. “I'm very happy I was able to do it this year.

“I wanted to do it last year, but I was hurt. And the first year, understandably, they wanted me to keep my feet going with [Single-A] and High-A baseball. It makes sense. Just being able to do it this year -- also being in Triple-A and seeing a lot of good pitching -- I'm just excited I get to do it this year in Arlington.”

Montgomery, 22, is slashing .211/.328/.379 in his first Triple-A season with 11 home runs, 12 doubles, 33 RBIs and six stolen bases over 75 games. His average is down from his .260 career mark, and his 97 strikeouts are unusually high for a young player with such a good grasp of the strike zone, although he has drawn 42 walks.

Being healthy is the key for Montgomery, who had his 2023 season limited to 223 at-bats due to oblique and back issues. He’s also working on consistency of approach at the plate, in the field and with daily preparation.

When Charlotte manager Justin Jirschele informed Montgomery of the Futures Game honor, Montgomery was working out in the weight room.

“We were in Norfolk,” Montgomery said. “They had [director of player development Paul] Janish on the phone, and Janish said, ‘Really happy with what you've been doing, just keep staying consistent and keep doing what you're doing, and we know everything's going to work out. Just want to let you know you've been selected for the Futures Game.’

“And I said, ‘Let's go!’ I'm still excited, and I can't wait to play there."

Schultz, 20, has posted a 2.30 ERA over seven starts since his promotion to Double-A Birmingham on May 25. He’s recorded 33 strikeouts with just four walks over 27 1/3 innings with the Barons -- thus far in his career, Schultz has 113 punchouts against just 17 free passes in 81 2/3 innings.

There’s a high level of excitement for Schultz’s arrival in the Majors at some point in 2025. That same holds true for Montgomery, who could see big league time later this season, though he won’t put any timetable on his Minor League development.

“If I'm not ready, they're not going to pull me up to make me fail or anything like that,” Montgomery said. “They're going to do their best to develop me the way they want. Kind of what everybody said at the beginning of the year was, ‘Not if, but when.’ So, it's kind of the same thing, I feel like, and just taking it day by day."

For now, the excitement is centered on these young talents getting to strut their stuff on the national stage Saturday at Globe Life Field.

“I'm just looking forward to going out there and having fun, but also, taking that time to relax and know it's an All-Star Game and play the best you can,” Montgomery said. “There's nothing wrong with winning an All-Star Game MVP, things like that. Just going out there and seeing all those guys, seeing those really good players with you and being able to connect with them.

“I probably played with some of them in the Fall League, and I've also probably seen some of them when I got drafted or if I played with them or against them during the regular season. Just hanging out with all those guys and celebrating that fact of being selected for the Futures Game is going to be really cool.”