Project Birmingham: White Sox promoting numerous prospects to Double-A

Colson Montgomery is the top name among Sox prospects headed to Birmingham on Tuesday.

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White Sox prospects Colson Montgomery, Wes Kath and Bryan Ramos in Arizona in March.

White Sox prospects Colson Montgomery, Wes Kath and Bryan Ramos chat prior to a minor league spring training baseball workout in March.

Ross D. Franklin/AP

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Having seen the benefits of melding top prospects, instructors and coordinators at their alternate training site in 2020, the White Sox are building off the experience with Project Birmingham, an innovative endeavor that will see most of their top up-and-coming players from

Class A play at Double-A Birmingham for the remaining four weeks of the season.

“[It’s] having a pool of our top players with our top staff, with each other on a daily basis, bringing that to life during a minor-league season,” assistant general manager and director of player development Chris Getz said.

That means promotions Tuesday for Colson Montgomery, Bryan Ramos, Wes Kath, Luis Mieses, Jared Kelly, Norge Vera, Andrew Dalquist, DJ Gladney, Cristian Mena, Wilfred Veras, Kohl Simas and Adam Hackenberg.

Player-development evaluators outside the organization are tipping their caps to the Sox for the intriguing idea. Getz is viewing it as an advanced instructional league.

The Sox’ farm system entered the season near or at the bottom of most rankings with no top-100 players. Montgomery, a shortstop, was the Sox’ first-round pick a year ago who was elevated to 38th by Baseball America, a needed shot in the arm for the scouting and player development staff. -Cuban outfielder Oscar Colas, who is already at Birmingham and having a big season, is 99th on Baseball America’s list.

Montgomery has been “excellent,” Getz said, since spring training at both levels of Class A, “the way he’s controlled his at-bats, both against lefties and righties, making good decisions at the plate, using the whole field, hitting for power, and he’s been solid defensively.”

Between Low-A Kannapolis and High-A Winston-Salem this season, Montgomery is batting .295/.408/.450 with nine home runs and an .858 OPS. He made headlines with an on-base streak of 50 games earlier in the season but goes to Birmingham having batted .200/.327/.375 in his last 50 plate appearances.

The team at Triple-A Charlotte will stay intact.

Blame it on Elton

Conspiracy theorists who thought the postponed game Sunday, which was shelved because of unplayable field conditions, was a Guardians maneuver to avoid Dylan Cease should know the game was in the hands of MLB.

Manager Tony La Russa and players said the outfield was unplayable. The warning track was flooded, and the left-field area wasn’t draining well with new sod laid after the field took a beating from an Elton John concert July 31.

Outfielder Andrew Vaughn said he knew the game wouldn’t be played when coach Daryl Boston jumped on the sod “and water splashed over his head.”

“You just can’t risk it,” said La Russa, who described the conditions as “scary.”

The game is expected to be made up in Cleveland on Sept. 15, but that’s not official.

Grandal recovering well

Catcher Yasmani Grandal was walking around the clubhouse at a brisk pace, almost as if nothing happened to his left knee, which he was clutching after being tagged out at home Saturday.

“It’s amazing,” La Russa said of Grandal, who was helped off the field after hyperextending the knee.

Grandal, who left the clubhouse in Cleveland on crutches Sunday, is getting treatment and was “taking a few swings” in the cage, La Russa said. He is expected to miss 10 to 14 days.

Cueto named Player of Week

Johnny Cueto was named the American League Player of the Week after posting an ERA of 0.54 in 16‰ innings in wins against the Astros and Guardians. Cueto struck out five, allowed 11 hits and walked two. He came within one out of a complete game Saturday in the 2-0 victory in Cleveland.

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