White Sox’s Montas Won’t Be with Double-A Birmingham for Long

Frankie Montas was already a top-ranked pitching prospect for the Chicago White Sox entering the season, but after putting up a 2.55 ERA and recording his first career no-hitter in the first half of the Double-A Birmingham Barons’ season, the 22-year-old may be moving on up the White Sox farm system soon.

Montas (1-1) delivered the no-hitter in the first game of a double-header on June 9, blanking a Tennessee Smokies team that boasted six Southern League All-Stars and top prospect Kyle Schwarber, who has since already made his major league debut for the Chicago Cubs. Montas sat them all down.

“I feel like I’m going to be laughing for weeks,” Montas said after the game. “I knew If I went out there and did my thing, good things would happen. Facing those guys, I knew I needed to be careful. They had a lot of home runs so I told myself I needed to watch out with what I threw to those guys.”

Good things have happened for Montas since he was signed out of Sainagua, Dominican Republic when he was just 17-years old by the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox kept him as long as they could, before moving him in a multi-team trade that landed the right-hander in the White Sox farm system. It all came together for Montas last season, before even his 20th birthday. He would end the 2014 season playing in three leagues, including one game in Double-A, and posting a 1.44 ERA. There was little doubt Montas would be moving up this season and everyone took notice. Montas was rated the No. 4 White Sox prospect before the season began. A designation he didn’t pay a lot of attention to.

“If you let those things get into your mind, you’re going to worry too much,” Montas said. “I tell myself that being a top prospect means nothing. I still have to do my job. If you put that on your mind, you think you have to do too perfect.”

Montas tells himself a lot. During his no-hitter no one in the Barons’ dugout was talking to him, so he spent the time in between innings talking to himself.

“In the sixth inning I was like, ‘I’m pitching a no-hitter,’” Montas said. “I was pinching myself. I knew I had to keep doing my thing and don’t think about a no-hitter. Just go out and keep pitching. The rumor is that if somebody says something, it messes it up. I was praying nobody would say anything (to me).”

Montas recorded just three strikeouts in the game, but kept his control and his mid-90s speed consistent throughout the entire contest. His defense backed him up, but they also didn’t have a lot of work to do, with balls dribbling into the infield in nearly every inning.

“I wasn’t thinking about the walks,” Montas said. “I was thinking about good pitching and the spot of the pitch. My teammates helped me lot with their defense. I was feeling really good. My fastball was good today, with good speed. I was able to throw inside and outside. Sometimes when you feel that good, you want to do more.”

Prospect watch

Montas isn’t the only starter with a low ERA for the Barons. Tyler Barnett (3-3) has a 1.40 ERA in six starts and he wasn’t on the radar at the beginning of the season. Middle reliever J.B. Wendelken (4-2) has a 2.70 ERA and has appeared in 21 games with two saves. Closer Cody Winiarski (1-0) is the team’s primary closer with a 1.54 ERA and six saves.

All the best batters for Birmingham are all recent call-ups, which explains the lackluster pitcher records above with the stellar ERAs. Drew Garcia is likely wrapping up his minor league career on a strong note after being dropped down from the Triple-A Charlotte Knights. Garcia is 30-years old and was batting .190 with the Knights, but in five games with Birmingham he’s .500. Still, it probably won’t be enough to buy him another season on the White Sox farm.

Jason Coats is another guy that got bumped down from Charlotte and is doing well. He’s batting .340 in his 12 games in Double-A this season, but unlike Garcia there’s a chance he’ll stick around since he’s just 25.

About Adam Greene

Adam Greene is a writer and photographer based out of East Tennessee. His work has appeared in USA Today, the Associated Press, the Chicago Cubs Vineline Magazine, AskMen.com and many other publications.

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