Left side of the future? Colson Montgomery, Wes Kath might be it for White Sox’ infield
Top picks Montgomery, Kath could work way up together through White Sox farm system
When the White Sox drafted shortstop Colson Montgomery in the first round and third baseman Wes Kath in the second last summer, it wasn’t hard to look ahead and envision the high schoolers holding down the left side of their infield in a few years.
With shortstop Tim Anderson and third baseman Yoan Moncada under contract control for three and four years, respectively, those spots are among the last areas of concern for the Sox’ front office right now.
But time will pass, and new needs will arise. Watching Montgomery and Kath — both left-handed hitters who became tight shortly after the draft and are hanging out together during the Sox’ minicamp for prospects in Glendale, Arizona — climb the ranks in the farm system with the goal of filling those spots will be fun.
‘‘To envision having left-handed bats on one side of the infield in the future, with the potential to not only hit but have power, that’s very exciting,’’ Sox assistant general manager and director of player development Chris Getz said.
Montgomery, who is from Indiana, was taken with the 22nd overall pick and Kath, who is from Arizona, with the 57th.
‘‘We’ve kind of become best friends, I guess you could say,’’ Montgomery said on a Zoom call last week. ‘‘We get along really well. We’re kind of the same player in a lot of ways.’’
The Sox were so high on Kath that they might have taken him in the first round had Montgomery not been available. Montgomery is 20 as of Sunday. Kath is 19 and still rates his home run in the state championship game in high school ahead of his first Rookie League homer.
Adapting to pro-level velocity is one of the first orders of business for Kath, who was lifting balls over the fence to the opposite field during batting practice last week.
‘‘Just trying to keep my bat in the zone longer,’’ Kath said. ‘‘The biggest thing I realized was just the velocity jump from high school to professional ball. It’s very big, going from 80 to 85 [mph] to 95 or 98 consistently. It’s just a big jump.’’
A three-sport star in high school, the 6-4 Montgomery — who could have walked on to play basketball at Indiana — has a Corey Seager type of look about him with ‘‘a sweet swing,’’ Getz said.
‘‘He stays through the baseball,’’ Getz said. ‘‘He’s under control in the box. We believe, based on his foot speed and his ability to see the field and the strong arm that he has, that he’s going to be able to be a shortstop in this game for a long time.’’
That’s the plan, anyway. And with major-league spring training appearing nowhere close to starting as March approaches because of an increasingly contentious lockout, long-range plans might be the best thing for fans to consider.
Prospects are the only players the Sox’ major-league coaches can work with right now in Arizona.
‘‘The major-league [coaches] here, they’re kind of just talking to us all, what they see in us, what they like, what we can kind of improve on,’’ Montgomery said. ‘‘It’s kind of just good to pick their brains because they work with the big-leaguers, the best-of-the-best guys. It’s just pretty cool having that opportunity to talk to them.’’