Will White Sox repeat '21 approach in Sunday's Draft?

July 12th, 2022

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.

Indiana University's two-sport loss has become a major gain for the White Sox.

I'm referring to Colson Montgomery, the team's top pick in the 2021 Draft, who was selected 22nd overall. The left-handed-hitting shortstop, who was committed to play baseball for the Hoosiers and walk on the basketball team, was rated as the 25th-highest prospect at the time of his selection. During his first full season in the Minors, Montgomery has surpassed those lofty expectations.

Over stints with Single-A Kannapolis and now High-A Winston-Salem, Montgomery has reached base in 45 straight games. He's hitting .326 with a .915 OPS to go with six home runs, 14 doubles, 33 RBIs and 42 runs scored.

Montgomery was a selection straight from Southridge High School in Huntingburg, Ind. With the 2022 Draft beginning Sunday night, could the White Sox go the high school route again with their first pick after not picking a high school player in the first round since 2012 with Courtney Hawkins? Their current Minor League system ranks near the bottom, partially because much of their elite younger talent is contributing to a team fighting for a second straight American League Central title.

They have even younger developing players such as Montgomery opening some eyes around baseball at the lower levels. So adding to that nucleus is one way for them to go.

"It's just balancing not only workload management, but development as well," said White Sox assistant general manager/player development Chris Getz of development for high school picks. "And that's why it does take some patience, and these guys are starting to show what they are capable of doing. And I think that patience is going to pay off here shortly.

"Iron sharpens iron and I feel like these players competing on a nightly basis will be some of the best players we have in our system. It's a very motivating factor. They have an opportunity to show off their skills to each other but also the industry."

MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis has right-handed pitcher Cade Horton from Oklahoma going to the White Sox in his latest mock Draft. Callis also mentions Kumar Rocker as another great fit for an "organization lacking in upper-level pitching prospects." Tucker Toman, a switch-hitting high school third baseman out of South Carolina, also could be in play, as could a handful of collegiate outfielders.

It's speculative at that 26th pick range of the first round. But the White Sox will be looking for the best player available, as they showed last year by drafting Montgomery with All-Star Tim Anderson in place. The 6-foot-4 Montgomery could play other positions, but he believes he'll stay at shortstop.

"I feel like I'm proving that right now," Montgomery said. "I'm showing I can play short with how I'm playing the position, how I'm doing defensively and all that stuff.

"I'm just like, 'If you think I'm too big to be at short, I'll show you I can play shortstop and I can do this.' A lot of people think I was going to be having a hard year or whatever, and I'm just going out and just trying to prove that I can do it."