Why The Chicago White Sox Reassigning Colson Montgomery To The Minors Is A Mistake

He should still at least be getting at-bats in big league camp.

Chicago White Sox Workout
Chicago White Sox Workout / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The 2024 outlook for the Chicago White Sox is far from rosy, and things just seem to be getting worse by the day.

Following the trade of pitcher Dylan Cease to the San Diego Padres, the overall win total took another fall as the White Sox number is set at 60.5. That's right, the number is set BELOW last year's finishing mark of 61-101.

On the bright side, Fangraphs sees the White Sox as being better this year, albeit only 67 wins.

That being said, a question regarding one of the team's top prospects comes to mind: if the team is going to be that bad, then why isn't Colson Montgomery going to be on the Opening Day roster?

The White Sox reassigned Montgomery to minor league camp after going 2-17 at the plate during Cactus League play. While those numbers indicate there is work to be done, it misses the point of why Montgomery not being with the team to start the season is a mistake.

Veteran shortstop Paul DeJong was signed in the off-season to a one-year deal in a move designed to bolster the defense, which has been a major issue over the last few years. What the deal also did was buy some time for Montgomery to get more at-bats in the minors before making a midseason move up to the majors.

That logic might make sense if the White Sox were a team in the mix to be a postseason contender, but that is far from the case right now.

Since hitting 30 home runs and making the All-Star team in 2019, DeJong has hit three, 19, six, and 14 homers over the next four seasons with a batting average high mark of .250 in 2020.

DeJong bounced around between the St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, and San Francisco Giants last season, and over his last 302 games, he posted a slash line of .192/.265/.355 with an on-base plus slugging total of .618.

Those numbers don't jump off the page for the right reasons, which makes the decision to delay Montgomery's major league debut a mystery. Could he do worse than that in his rookie season? Of course he could, but he could also do better.

An argument could be made that rushing him up to be with this team could be a detriment to his development.

He should stay down, play every day, and get more seasoning before coming up. But why not get some of those at-bats up on the major league level now?

He doesn't have to play every day but could get valuable experience while playing alongside a veteran like DeJong who, unlike Montgomery, will probably not be a part of the team's plans past this year.

The bar is viewed as being very low for the White Sox, so why not get Montgomery acclimated to the ways of the major league world? He could begin getting used to things such as the travel schedule and other demands that take a toll on a player over the course of a year. The sooner he gets a routine down and understands what being a professional ballplayer entails the better.

Additionally, he could be an attraction that brings people to the ballpark who otherwise might not come if things go as expected. It would give fans a glimpse into the future and see if he has the potential to be successful at this level.

Projections for the team being what they are should also allow for him to go through growing pains and successes with minimal pressure. The White Sox are not in "win now" mode, thus waiting until mid-season to call Montgomery up just delays his development on a team not heading anywhere anytime soon.

In a year that seems to be over before it started, the White Sox need to find positives to build on and find them quickly. Postponing Montgomery's time on the big stage is not the way to make that happen.