Kath ready to leave home, make mark on White Sox

February 26th, 2022

CHICAGO -- Becoming a professional baseball player was somewhat like going home for Wes Kath, the No. 4 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline.

The skilled left-handed hitter, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., was selected in the second round of the 2021 MLB Draft, and spent his first Minor League season with 28 games played and 104 at-bats for the Rookie League White Sox at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. He also participated in the instructional league, followed by a January hitters' camp and now Minor League Spring Training minicamp, all at the Ranch.

His offseason featured numerous visits to the facility, as a non-40-man member of the organization.

“I’ve been working with our trainers here,” Kath said Friday. “I’ve been coming in five days per week to our facility, from a month after we finished [instructionals] to now, so I feel ready. I’m already in the routine of being at the complex, and already through the routine of what we’ve been doing for Spring Training for basically the offseason.

“I love being able to go home and just chop it up with my family at the end of the day. It’s definitely a blessing I’m in Arizona and getting to train here while my home just being 35 minutes away.”

As an Arizona resident, Kath attended several Spring Training games, mostly the Rockies and D-backs due to the proximity of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick to his home. Now, Kath is seeing the action from the other side of the fence.

Kath turns 20 on Aug. 3, making him slightly younger than Colson Montgomery, who hits 20 on Feb. 27. Montgomery, the White Sox top prospect per MLB Pipeline, was the team’s first pick in the 2021 MLB Draft and is ticketed for shortstop with Kath at third, although Chris Getz, the White Sox assistant general manager/player development, said both players with get a variety of defensive looks.

Montgomery and Kath have become good friends. Their careers are in an early developmental state, but they already have talked about impacting the White Sox together at the Major League level.

“Oh, for sure. Yeah, we talk about that a lot,” said a smiling Kath. “Just from the start, it was easy to kind of create a bond with him. As we have gone and played together, it’s also easy because he’s right next to me in the infield.

“We get to talk about everything. We are both left-handed hitters so what we are feeling at the plate, how to make adjustments, and kind of go from there. We have formed a good relationship. It’s kind of cool to rise up with him.”

This duo connected when they roomed together in their post-Draft minicamp, and “have kind of become best friends,” per Montgomery.

“Going into Birmingham [Draft minicamp] last year, I had my own room, but he came knocking on the door,” Montgomery said. “We kind of talked and hung out the first day.

“Ever since then, we’ve been in the same groups. We are the same player in a lot of ways. We get along really well. We’ve formed a really good friendship with each other. He’s just a great player. He’s got a sweet swing and is really good defensively. He’s got a really strong arm and really good mental toughness, too.”

White Sox manager Tony La Russa, hitting coach Frank Menechino and the big league coaching staff have studied players such as Kath and Montgomery during the minicamp, with full Minor League Spring Training starting in the upcoming week. Their advice and input have made a difference for these young players, who, in the case of Kath and Montgomery, are preparing for their first full Minor League campaign.

This upcoming season includes a departure from home for Kath, who figures to produce a few more memories in Arizona before moving forward. As a senior for Desert Mountain High School, Kath homered at Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., during his team’s 5-A state championship run. It was a blast that included a bat flip and quite a celebration crossing home plate, topping his first professional homer on Aug. 9.

“I’ll take my state championship one over my first one, just because state championship was pretty cool. I don’t know, [they were] both good swings,” Kath said. “I’m just excited to get out there and have the entire fan base, play in a stadium and travel around in a bus.

“I was in Arizona, so it felt like I was playing at home. Whereas this year, I’ll be out at a stadium and playing out there, which will be kind of more Minor League baseballesque.”