Thursday, April 18, 2024

Noah Shultz And Bryan Ramos Shine In Latest ESPN Prospect Rankings

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Three White Sox minor leaguers have been listed inside ESPN’s top 100 MLB Prospects for 2024. To nobody’s surprise, Colson Montgomery was the top-ranked White Sox prospect coming in at No. 8 overall. Meanwhile, Noah Shultz was graded as one of the top left-handed pitching prospects in the game while Bryan Ramos rounded out the list at No. 90. 

While Montgomery has received much of the attention this offseason, fans should be excited by the rapid ascent of Shultz and Ramos. 

The Next Chris Sale?

Noah Shultz has received plenty of national recognition this offseason. The White Sox top pitching prospect has been ranked among the Top 100 prospects in baseball by Baseball Prospectus, MLB Pipeline, and Baseball America. 

ESPN Baseball insider Kiley McDaniel, was the latest to heap praise on the 20-year-old, ranking him as the fourth-best left-handed pitching prospect and No. 57 overall. 

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Shultz might be the most exciting left-handed pitching prospect the White Sox have had since Chris Sale. His 6-foot-9 frame and low left-handed arm slot drew comparisons to Randy Johnson after being selected by the White Sox with the 26th pick in the 2022 MLB draft. 

Shultz boasts a three-pitch mix that includes a fastball, slider and changeup. However, since being drafted he has developed a two-seam fastball, which McDaniel believes might be even better. Scouts say his slider was one of the best of his Draft class due to its high spin rate and the tough angle his tall 6-foot-9 frame creates on left-handed hitters. 

It is one of the reasons MLB.com listed his slider as one of the best pitches in the minor leagues. His fastball can touch 97 mph which adds to the difficulty of teeing up his low-80s, high-spinning, sweeping slider. As a result, Shultz struck out 36.5 percent of batters faced in Single-A Kannapolis last season. 

The southpaw posted a 1.33 ERA and 0.85 WHIP  in ten starts in Single-A while limiting opponents to a .175 batting average. 

However, there are some injury concerns with Shultz. He suffered a flexor strain in Spring Training which delayed his professional debut. On top of the flexor strain, he also missed some time due to a “shoulder impingement” which landed him on the IL in August. 

He has only thrown 27 professional innings and is going to need to show he can post bulk innings. If he can don’t be surprised if he shoots up the MLB prospect rankings even further.

Under the Radar

When Baseball Prospectus released its list of top prospects for the upcoming season it included three White Sox players on the list. Similar to ESPN, the first two included prospects were Montgomery and Shultz. However, the third player was catching prospect Edgar Quero. MLB Pipeline didn’t include Quero in its rankings, opting to only include Montogmery and Shultz in its Top 100 list. Because of this, it was surprising to see Bryan Ramos sneak inside ESPN’s Top 100. 

While Ramos may not be as flashy of a prospect as Montgomery or Shultz, it is a well-deserved honor. Ramos is considered a well-rounded third-base prospect. The White Sox inked him a $30,000 deal during the 2018 international signing period. 

Ramos dealt with some nagging injury issues when he first entered the White Sox farm system. However, at the age of 20, he slugged 22 home runs and was promoted to Double-A in 2022. The 21-year-old was just the seventh-ranked White Sox prospect last season but turned some heads after hitting 15 home runs and slashing .271/.369/.457 in 77 games at Double-A Birmingham. 

Scouts are excited about his offensive potential. He received a 50 for his hit and power grades on a 20-80 scale.  

Ramos’s 6-foot-2 frame generates plenty of natural power, and he has shown the ability to make hard contact consistently. He has been younger than the majority of his competition throughout his career. Because of this he often has an overly aggressive approach at the plate. 

While his offense is what landed him on ESPN’s rankings he is no slouch with the glove. Since turning pro, he has added muscle without losing much athleticism and quickness. Scouts say he has reliable hands and a solid arm and could be big-league-ready as soon as this year.

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