White Sox prospect duo set to make MLB splash

January 5th, 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 -- I was talking with and  in the Camelback Ranch home dugout during Arizona Fall League action in early November, when I happened to mention the 2023 White Sox 61-101 record.

“Holy cow,” Montgomery said with a sort of stunned smile. “I didn’t know it was that record.”

Neither Montgomery nor Ramos could be blamed if they didn’t fully realize the extent of the White Sox very recent struggles. Both players were part of big league Spring Training last year, but they also had Minor League work taking up their time.

But this talented duo should have a say in the White Sox next competitive window under general manager Chris Getz. Montgomery, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound shortstop, is situated as the team’s top prospect and the No. 17 overall prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline. Ramos, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound third baseman, ranks seventh within the club's system.

Their goal is to reach the Majors. Their goal is also to help the White Sox win, and in the context of the team’s current reshaping process, their opportunity could arrive during this upcoming season.

“When the time is ready for us to make an impact, we’ll be ready,” Montgomery said. “We are young dudes, and we’ll know our place in the clubhouse. We are going to come out and play hard every day. It’s the good thing about being young -- you feel like you can go on forever.”

“I’m not thinking about that,” Ramos said. “When the time comes, they know what they are doing. I have to keep practicing and working the way I am now until then. Try to be ready for that time.”

Ramos hit a walk-off grand slam for Glendale hours after I interviewed the pair. Three days later, Montgomery was named the Fall Stars Game Most Valuable Player behind a long homer of his own.

The White Sox system has been upwardly mobile since the 2023 Trade Deadline, thanks, in part, to deals made by then-general manager Rick Hahn and then-executive vice president Ken Williams to bring in catcher Edgar Quero (Chicago's No. 3 prospect), right-hander Nick Nastrini (No. 6) and left-handers Jake Eder (No. 5) and Ky Bush (No. 9).

Getz will have a chance to put his mark on this overall talent base beginning with the potential Dylan Cease trade return. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal wrote recently about the Yankees and Orioles having expressed "sincere" interest in Cease as they try to gain separation atop the American League East, according to Major League sources briefed on the discussions. The Dodgers, Cardinals and Red Sox are also among the teams possibly in the mix, though the exact list of suitors is unknown.

Cease, who turned 28 on Dec. 28, has one of the nastiest sliders in the game, he's two years removed from finishing second in AL Cy Young Award voting and he has made 97 starts over the past three seasons. He has two years of contractual control remaining, so any team -- including the White Sox -- would benefit from his presence.

Adding to and building up this young talent is key for the White Sox as they push toward their next competitive window, just seven years since the start of the team's last rebuild. Chicago will eventually have to spend to finish off this process, but in the interim, the team will be counting on prospects such as Montgomery and Ramos to develop and produce.

“I don’t want to make too many promises,” Montgomery said. “But you are going to get 100% out of us and [we'll] try to play every single day. Some guys -- with the day and age now -- they have days off, but this is the game you want to play and wanted to play since we were really young kids. [We want to] play at that high level every day.”

“[We have] a bunch of young guys, they have almost all the tools for playing this game at the high level,” Ramos said. “[Jacob] Burke, Tim Elko, [Wilfred) Veras -- so yeah, I think we are going to be good.”