2021 Draft picks among top Sox prospects

August 19th, 2021

CHICAGO -- It has been a whirlwind few weeks for .

The 19-year-old shortstop was taken by the White Sox with the 22nd overall pick in the 2021 Draft on July 11. The prep star from Indiana joined the organization and made his debut with their Arizona Rookie League affiliate in Glendale, Ariz., on Aug. 6.

And as of Wednesday night, Montgomery officially was anointed as the No. 1 White Sox prospect according to MLB Pipeline’s updated midseason prospect ranking. Montgomery has started his professional career going 7-for-26, including two doubles, three walks and five strikeouts.

Third baseman Wes Kath, a fellow 19-year-old and the second-round pick for the White Sox in the ’21 Draft, checks in at No. 4 on the prospect list. Kath is 9-for-29 with one home run and five RBIs with Arizona.

“I would describe myself as a big contact and power hitter,” Kath told MLB.com during an interview shortly after the Draft. “I think my bat will carry my profile. But I also love playing third base and shortstop.”

“Our goal was, for one, to get them acclimated to the organization,” said White Sox assistant general manager/player development Chris Getz of Montgomery and Kath. “They are both very gifted athletes, and the upside for both of those players is significant.”

Getz wasn’t sure if Montgomery and/or Kath would be promoted this season, with not a great deal of time left in the Minor League campaign. He didn’t want to put too much on their plate, but what they have been given to date, they have handled very well.

Outfielder Yoelqui Cespedes was placed at No. 2 among White Sox prospects. The 23-year-old was recently promoted to Double-A Birmingham after slashing .278/.355/.494 with seven home runs, 17 doubles, 20 RBIs and 10 stolen bases for High-A Winston-Salem.

Right-handed pitcher Jared Kelley, who was ranked the top White Sox prospect in the last rankings, moves to No. 5. He is joined by Andrew Dalquist (No. 7) and Matthew Thompson (No. 8), who are working together as part of the rotation for Low-A Kannapolis.

“Now that they have kind of gotten into more of a routine, you see them learning the game. We’ve gotten to a point where we can teach baseball,” Kannapolis pitching coach John Ely said. “Every one of them is a great kid.

“Everybody is at different levels of where they are in their professional development. We’ve been able to make some much better strides over the last three or four weeks with every one of them.”

Ely believes all three have what it takes to be big league starters, although it is early in the career for this trio going from high school to the Minors.

“Yes, I do. 100 percent. Every one of them has the skill set,” Ely said. “The three of those guys each have potential to be somewhere in a starting rotation, with Thompson having the ability to be an elite No. 1 or 2.”

“A true evaluation is going to be on the back end of the year, not necessarily the front end: Kelley, Dalquist and Thompson all together, how they finish the season,” Getz said. “You are starting to see glimpses of what they are going to be capable of doing in the future.”

Right-hander Norge Vera is listed as the No. 9 White Sox prospect in the latest rankings, with a great deal of buzz surrounding the international signee from Cuba. Shortstop Jose Rodriguez sits at No. 10, after being promoted from Kannapolis to Winston-Salem.

This list would not be complete without recognizing third baseman Jake Burger at No. 3 and first baseman/outfielder Gavin Sheets at No. 6 to round out the Top 10. The duo might be considered prospects, but they have both made big league contributions to the American League Central-leading White Sox during the ’21 campaign.

Sheets produced six home runs with 16 RBIs over 99 plate appearances with the White Sox. Burger had one home run, one triple, three doubles and three RBIs over 42 plate appearances.

“You just know there’s a lot of talented guys out there,” said Burger on what he’s learned in the Majors. “You know there’s not as many mistakes, especially at the plate. Guys don’t make as many mistakes, and they execute a little more. That’s probably the biggest difference from Triple-A to here.”

There were no White Sox players listed in the overall MLB Pipeline midseason Top 100 prospects list.