Chris Getz called it the “Birmingham Project.”
Starting Tuesday, some of the top prospects in the Chicago White Sox system will head to Birmingham to finish out their minor league season with the organization’s Double-A affiliate.
“Minor league seasons are a little deeper (to Sept. 18) than they have been in the past, which can affect your offseason instructional league or even just your strength and conditioning programs,” said Goetz, the Sox assistant general manager/player. development, last week in the Guaranteed Rate Field. “So knowing that, creating something during the season in front of the fans is really exciting.”
Goetz said the plan is to take some aspects of the 2020 alternate ballpark experience in Schaumburg, where several players went after the pandemic canceled the minor league season.
“We’re going to send our coordinators to Birmingham for the last four weeks … treat it almost like an advanced training league to get these guys ready for the offseason and work toward next year,” Goetz said.
The group will include a mix of players formerly with Class A affiliates Winston-Salem and Kannapolis, as well as some players already with the Barons.
“I want to leave Triple-A all together for obvious reasons if there’s a need here (in the majors),” Goetz said. “So we’re not going to move anybody from the Triple-A roster to Double A.”
Colson Montgomery, the team’s 2021 first-round pick, will be among those moving up. The shortstop is slashing .295/.408/.450 with nine homers and 40 RBI in 82 games between Kannapolis (45) and Winston-Salem (37) this season. He is the organization’s top prospect, according to MLB.com.
“It was great, it really was,” Goetz said of Montgomery’s season. “Regardless of spring training, before the start of the year in Kannapolis, the way he controlled his hitting, both against lefties and righties, making good decisions at the plate, using the whole field. He wrestled for power and was solid defensively.
“For a kid who commits a lot of time to basketball, you don’t really know what he’s going to do when he’s fully committed to baseball. But he’s proven that when he focuses his energy on one thing, he’s a player that will benefit. And he was as consistent as anyone in the minor leagues. We are very happy to have him with us and he clearly has a bright future.”
Outfielder Oscar Kolas, who represented the Sox at the futures All-Star Game this year in Los Angeles, had a great first season in the organization. He slashed .311/.369/.475 with seven homers and 42 RBI in 59 games for Winston-Salem before being traded to Birmingham in July. He is slashing .312/.395/.615 with 10 home runs and 22 RBI in 28 games with the Barons.
The Sox and Colossus agreed to a $2.7 million deal was announced in January during the international signing period. According to him, he ranks second in the organization MLB.com.
“He continues to get better,” Goetz said. “He puts up quality at-bats. He fights for power. He plays good defense. There are still some things we are working on with tone recognition. But for the most part, this is a player who has a chance to be a pretty productive major league player. He will be an exciting part of this organization.”
- Third baseman Brian Ramos
- Right fielder Luis Mieses
- Outfielder Duke Ellis
- Third base Wes Cat
- Infielder/outfielder DJ Gladney
- Wilfred Veros from first/third base
- Pitchers Cole Simas, Jared Kelly, Norge Vera, Andrew Dahlquist and Shawn Burke
- Shortstop Jose Rodriguez
- Midfielder Moses Castillo
- Catcher Adam Hackenberg
- Catcher/designated hitter Tyler Osik
Goetz said about Faithwho has a 2.63 ERA in 10 starts and is the Sox’s No. 6 prospect in MLB.com, “He was very good in Kannapolis. We’re just trying to manage his pitches but also keep him going. We’ll look back and feel like he got some decent work under his belt and prepare him to be a starter next year.”
As for Rodriguez, who played in five straight games for the Barons from Aug. 12-17 and ranks No. 7 in MLB.com, Goetz said: “He’s been fantastic lately. He calmed down his base and became much more direct to the ball. He’s using the whole field and he’s obviously picking his spots where he’s putting his A-swing together and he’s hit some home runs here recently.”
Birmingham players won’t necessarily be cut out from moving to Charlotte, Goetz said.
“To be with these guys every day — and to go back to an alternate site, an instructional league setting, where we have the staff, and to be able to really instill some of the fundamental beliefs that we have and really continue to drive what White is about the Sox, I think those players will be proud to be a part of it and maybe we’ll get another push for some of those players.
“This is a chance to show baseball and the White Sox that we have another wave of players.”