Top White Sox prospect Colson Montgomery makes big jump in first full pro season
Believe it or not, there's been a positive White Sox development this year.
Colson Montgomery not only played well, he blossomed into one of baseball's best prospects.
"I really didn't know what to expect or how the season was going to go because it was my first full season," Montgomery said in a phone interview. "I really didn't know how long it was and how many things happen. I just set my mind to one goal and that was to do my best at where I'm at because I didn't want to worry about getting moved up or anything like that and putting a little too much pressure on myself."
Opening the season at low Class A Kannapolis, Montgomery was promoted to high A Winston-Salem after 45 games and he finished up the year at AA Birmingham.
"Whether it be spring training, to the beginning of the year in Kannapolis, the way he's controlled his at-bats, both against lefties and righties, making good decisions at the plate, using the whole field, he's been hitting for power and he's been solid defensively," said Chris Getz, the Sox's assistant general manager/director of player development. "He's been as consistent as anyone in the minor leagues. We're excited to have him, and he obviously has a bright future."
In a combined 96 games this season, Montgomery hit .274/.381/.429 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI.
The White Sox's 2021 first-round draft pick out of Southridge High School in Indiana wasn't included in any of the preseason Top 100 prospect rankings.
When he headed home for some needed rest after Birmingham's season ended on Sept. 18, the 20-year-old shortstop was rated No. 36 by Baseball America.
"At first, I really didn't pay attention to it because I wasn't on the list," Montgomery said. "I was kind of, I wouldn't say mad, I didn't take it personally but I tried to prove that I should be on that list. Once I was, I didn't pay any attention to it. I just let how I play determine where I'm at."
Montgomery is making a rapid rise in the White Sox's system, but 6-foot-4, 205-pounder still wants to show he can hit for more power and improve his defense after making 20 errors in 92 games at short.
A big adjustment was playing just one sport after playing three in high school. At Southridge, Montgomery was one of the top basketball players in Indiana.
"For a kid that split a lot of his time with basketball, you don't quite know how it's going to take when he's fully committed to baseball," Getz said. "But he's proven when he puts his energy toward one thing, he's a player that's going to benefit from that."
Montgomery is all-in on baseball, but he does miss playing basketball and football.
"I've always played multiple sports and then I played baseball and people told me how good I was at baseball and they were always curious about how I would be if I just focused on baseball," Montgomery said. "It's nice, I love the fact that I get to focus on just one sport, try to perfect the one sport. But I loved playing multiple sports because it kind of helped you with your mental state where you kind of got exhausted and you could just go play a different sport. It's a totally different competitive nature.
"That was the challenge for me this year, keep that competitive mindset but just playing baseball for 100-something games."
Of the many highlights from the season, reaching base safely in 50 straight games tops the list. The streak started at Kannapolis and continued at Winston-Salem.
"While it was going on, you can try as much as you want not to think about it," Montgomery said. "But once the number got above 25 or 30 games, it was like, 'OK, everybody knows there's something going on.' Everybody's kind of whispering about it but not trying to say or anything or jinx it.
"When I got on base during the game I wasn't trying to think, 'I've got to try and do it again.' It was like, 'No, I want to do it again tomorrow, I want to get on again.' What me and my coaches always talked about was what's the worst that's going to happen? It ends. It's already an accomplishment."
The same can be said of Montgomery's season.