Montgomery living up to billing as Fall League's top prospect

October 14th, 2023

entered the Arizona Fall League as the circuit's most highly touted prospect.

It took a handful of games to get back up to speed, but MLB's No. 17 overall prospect is hitting up to his billing as he launched a pair of home runs -- after going deep less than 24 hours earlier -- in Glendale's 8-7 loss at Scottsdale Stadium on Friday.

"The first week or whatever, it was a little bit of struggle just because you had that time off in between seasons," said Montgomery, the top White Sox prospect. "But I feel really good at the plate. I feel on time and everything. So it feels good to finally get back in the rhythm of things."

The 21-year-old ended his regular season with Double-A Birmingham, whose season wrapped up on Sept. 17. During the two-week gap before his first Fall League game, Montgomery split time between his Indiana home and Nashville, Tenn., working out and swinging to stay in shape.

But, as he notes, there's only one thing that can truly keep you fresh: playing in games.

It took 12 at-bats with the Glendale Desert Dogs to register his first hit, a two-run single, but since then, he’s been stinging the ball with authority. In his last five games, Montgomery is 8-for-24 with a .778 slugging percentage. That includes all four of his extra-base hits in his last two games.

Montgomery hit his first AFL homer Thursday and picked up where he left off in his first at-bat of the day Friday by pulling a no-doubter to right field. Two at-bats later, he crushed another two-run shot, this time to right-center. The defense barely budged on either dinger.

What made the roundtrippers even more impressive is that he stayed patient in his approach, fouled off pitches and kept his A-swing with two strikes to pounce on pitches low and over the plate

"I just kind of try and see the ball as deep as I can and when I got two strikes, I'm trying to be as early as I can," Montgomery said. "So if anything, I can foul off some pitches or whatever. So, and it just so happened that through breaking balls that I just caught out front and I've been, I've been trying to catch some breaking balls out front for the past week now. So it feels good to finally do that."

The 2021 first-round Draft pick is known for his plus hit and power tools, but his slugging is starting to translate from raw potential to game production. This was his first two-homer game since high school and first time going deep in back-to-back games in the pros.

Montgomery is excited to make up for lost time after missing the first two months of the season with oblique and back injuries, but White Sox fans are well aware of his impending arrival in the big leagues. There was a strong contingent of Sox fans at Friday's game, which made his three-run, three-hit outburst, capped by a ninth-inning single, even sweeter.

"It's awesome," Montgomery said. "I mean, I heard some people saying that they're excited for me to get up to the South Side, Chicago. I mean, it's really cool, you know, hearing all that stuff and especially when you get to show out in front of those fans. I mean, that feels really good too."