CHICAGO -- The name mentioned by Chris Getz, the White Sox assistant general manager/player development, was “Project Birmingham.” But the title of the White Sox innovative Minor League program is admittedly a work in progress.
It’s an idea being put into place Tuesday at the organization’s Double-A Birmingham affiliate, based on development concepts working in the past at the alternate training site during the 2020 season influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and instructional league. It brings a pool of top prospects from Single-A Kannapolis and High-A Winston-Salem together with the existing Barons’ roster for the rest of the season.
“We’re really proud of some of the accomplishments we’ve made on the player development side and the strides that our players have made in the last couple of months,” said Getz. “And now to kind of bring that to life in Double-A for the last month is something that’s motivating for our staff, our organization, certainly I hope for our players that will be part of this.
“Not only are we able to compete on a nightly basis, certainly the personalized instruction, but also treat it almost as an advanced instructional league. So, these guys are set up for their offseasons and work toward next year.”
This group will include White Sox players at the Double-A level and below, with Getz wanting to leave the Triple-A Charlotte squad together in case there is a big league need. Some of those players making the move up, according to Getz, are Colson Montgomery, Bryan Ramos, Luis Mieses, Duke Ellis, Wes Kath, DJ Gladney, Wilfred Veras, Kohl Simas, Adam Hackenberg, Tyler Osik, Jared Kelley, Norge Vera and Andrew Dalquist.
“I view it as an opportunity to certainly celebrate what we’ve done departmentally with bringing these players there,” Getz said. “Going back to the strides we feel like we’ve made with some of these players and to show the organization, but also outside the organization, the next wave of hopefully our Major League talent here in Chicago.
“Going into the year we certainly set our goals and feel like we’ve been able to accomplish a lot of them. We’ve had some players recently enter the Top 100 Prospects list [Montgomery is ranked No. 60 by MLB Pipeline], and we feel like we’ve got some more that are just outside of it. And it’s a chance to show baseball and show the White Sox that we’ve got another wave of players coming.”
All the White Sox Minor League coordinators will be going to Birmingham for the rest of the season, as well. Some players from the Arizona Complex League and recent Draft picks will be moving to Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, with Getz’s full confidence in handling such a challenge. Getz also stressed being creative with the roster at Birmingham by using the development list, which Major League Baseball has given the last two years, to have some players “who are inactive and then become active to allow other players to fill in and make it still a competitive environment for these players.”
“I imagine these players are going to feel proud about being part of this,” Getz said. “And perhaps we get another boost on some of these players.”
Getz pointed out that players such as Montgomery or Ramos already are in a good place statistically from the bulk of their season prior to this move. So, Project Birmingham is about working and learning.
“It’s not about performance,” Getz said. “It’s about getting the individual instruction and the added motivation about being part of this to then fully enhance them for their careers.”