Top prospect Montgomery absorbs MLB wisdom in camp

Clevinger's outing vs. Cubs feels 'back more in tune to 2019 and 2020'

March 18th, 2023

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Being part of big league Spring Training was a little overwhelming at first for , the White Sox top prospect and No. 38 overall, per MLB Pipeline.

Then it became enjoyable and informative.

“You're around players a lot better than what you're used to,” said Montgomery during a Friday interview from the Minor League side of the White Sox complex. “It was also good because it steps up your game a little bit. You see they're the best of the best. That's what you're striving to be. Being around them was really fun.”

Montgomery’s stay on the big league side presented a valuable learning experience for the left-handed-hitting shortstop. He talked with veteran hurlers such as Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly, while being around Gavin Sheets and Andrew Vaughn and watching how they go about their business.

There was also a chance for Montgomery to work with Tim Anderson, the All-Star incumbent at shortstop, before Anderson left to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

“He was cool. Most of the time we didn't really talk about baseball,” Montgomery said. “We talked about basketball. We talked about anything other than baseball because we're around it so much that you kind of just want to get away.

“We were just chopping it up, small talk, here and there. He was really cool to work with. Just to practice and watch and hang out with him. He's a fun guy.”

The 2022 season for Montgomery included stops at Single-A Kannapolis, High-A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham and a 50-game on-base streak for the team’s top pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. His big league Spring Training experience as a non-roster invite gave him another boost of confidence as he moves forward toward the ’23 season.

“I'd say I'm in a really good spot right now, especially when I came down from big league camp,” Montgomery said. “I already have a lot of confidence in myself, but it shoots a lot more confidence in yourself when you talk to big league coaches and they have their own opinions of you, and then you come down here and you were up there playing against the best of the best.

“When you come down here, things really slow down for you. You catch your breath a little bit. Because when you're up there, you're trying to make good impressions and things like that. When you come down here, you do your same work. It's like a breath of fresh air.”

Clevinger closer to regular-season ready
threw 65 pitches over 3 2/3 innings during a 4-4 deadlock with the Cubs Friday afternoon at Camelback Ranch, with the extended outing letting the right-hander play with pitch sequencing the second time through the order. He continues to feel good about how his stuff is playing.

“Back to being way more normal. Getting more of the swing decisions I’m used to getting,” Clevinger said. “I think it’s back more in tune to 2019 and 2020.”

Even with just two Cactus League starts remaining, Clevinger isn’t allowing himself to think about his first regular-season start in Houston.

“Oh, no. I’m just living day by day right now,” Clevinger said. “I’m pretty locked in day to day. I know it’s going to be a good environment there for sure. I’m just excited to get out of here with these guys. We’ve got a good thing going, a good culture going on right now. Excited to see how it plays out.”

Vaughn on a break
First baseman Andrew Vaughn has not played since March 12 against the Angels as he deals with soreness.

“He’s a little sore, but I haven’t gotten the full report on him,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “We’re just giving him a couple of days, just to settle in. Then I’ll get the word from [head athletic trainer] James [Kruk], and I’ll address that either tomorrow morning or whenever we have more information.” 

Grifol said the soreness was minor.

“He’s probably day to day,” Grifol added.