Vera tops list of White Sox prospects to keep an eye on

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Southridge High School pitcher Colson Montgomery MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred after being selected by Chicago White Sox as the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2021 MLB baseball draft, Sunday, July 11, 2021, in Denver.

    Southridge High School pitcher Colson Montgomery MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred after being selected by Chicago White Sox as the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2021 MLB baseball draft, Sunday, July 11, 2021, in Denver. AP File Photo/July 2021

 
 
Updated 1/7/2022 8:25 PM

The White Sox are scheduled to open the upcoming season on March 31 with a home game against the Twins.

Given the current lockout and accompanying lack of communication between owners and players, it's possible MLB won't be playing ball on time.

 

The upcoming minor-league season is not going to be affected by the major-league work stoppage, although prospects on 40-man rosters would be ineligible to participate.

Fortunately for the Sox, most of their top young talent is not yet on the 40-man. Getting needed development this year is even more important when you consider the 2020 minor-league season was shuttered by COVID-19.

Here are five White Sox prospects worth knowing:

Norge Vera

In order to minimize pressure, assistant general manager/director of player development Chris Getz rarely pumps up top prospects.

When talking about the 21-year-old pitcher last summer, Getz made an exception.

"There are plenty of indications that we've got ourselves a future starter in Norge Vera," Getz said.

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That's quite a projection, considering Vera has yet to pitch in the United States, was limited to 19 innings last season in the Dominican Summer League and was idle in 2020 due to the pandemic.

But the son of former Cuban pitching legend Norge Luis Vera has all the tools to make a rapid rise to the Sox.

With a fastball that reaches 99 mph and an above-average curveball, the 6-foot-4, 185-pound Vera didn't allow an earned run in the DSL last season while giving up only 9 hits to go with 34 strikeouts and 5 walks.

Colson Montgomery

Rated the White Sox's No. 1 prospect by Baseball America and MLB Pipeline, Montgomery played 26 games in the Arizona Complex League last season after being drafted with the No. 22 overall pick.

The 19-year-old shortstop from Indiana batted .287/.396/.362 in the ACL and is ready to move to the Class A level this season.

Yoelqui Cespedes

Like Vera, Cespedes is another young star from Cuba making his way to the Sox's roster.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Playing in 72 games with high Class A Winston-Salem and AA Birmingham last season, the 24-year-old outfielder slashed .285/.350/.463 with 8 home runs and 27 RBI. Cespedes, half-brother of former major leaguer Yoenis Cespedes, also played in the Arizona Fall League and has big power potential.

Jose Rodriguez

When last season started, the 20-year-old infielder was not on the White Sox's radar.

That quickly changed as Rodriguez excelled with three teams -- low Class A Kannapolis, Winston-Salem and Birmingham, hitting .301/.338/.469 with 14 homers and 51 RBI in 11 games.

The stellar showing earned him an invite to the Arizona Fall League, and Rodriguez's ability to play second base, shortstop and third further increases his value.

Wes Kath

Drafted in the second round last year behind Montgomery, the 19-year-old third baseman didn't exactly light it up (.212/.287.337) over 28 games in the Arizona Complex League.

The Sox aren't going to make any quick judgments on Kath, who showed his left-handed power potential with 3 home runs.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder has plenty of time to make an impact and his solid defensive skills at third are an added plus.

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