Noah Schultz, White Sox’ top pitching prospect, takes the next step

The comps are impossible to dismiss.

They’re a little much, however.

When you’re two years removed from graduating high school, and “Randy Johnson” is dropped alongside your mentions, that’s a lot to absorb.

But the White Sox’ top pitching prospect, Noah Schultz of Aurora, takes them in stride. In very long strides, that is. So it will be in any 6-9 left-hander’s case.

“It’s cool to be compared to these guys, but in the end, I’m my own pitcher,” Schultz said Thursday. “It’s cool to watch them and see how they play, but I try to be my own. If people want to compare, they can. But I know that I don’t try to be them. I try to be my own pitcher.”

A 2022 graduate of Oswego East High School and the 26th pick in the 2022 draft, Schultz gets compared to the 6-10 Johnson because of his long frame and slinging three-quarter, across-the-body delivery.

He has touched 97 mph but generally sits in the 93-95 range, with a low-80s sweeping slider. And he’s working on a cutter and changeup. Scouts note his athleticism for his size, and while not possessing Johnson’s velocity, Schultz is more refined at this stage of his development. The Sox aren’t asking for a Hall of Fame career, but wallowing in the throes of back-to-back awful seasons and clinging to hopes of a better future, they’ll gladly welcome the possibility of having a top-of-the-rotation starter in multiple future rotations.

As for his development, so far, so good. Schultz validated his promotion to Double-A Birmingham on May 19 by pitching four scoreless innings of one-hit ball in his first start Saturday, striking out five Biloxi Shuckers and walking none. He threw only 40 pitches, 28 for strikes.

Before his promotion to Birmingham, Schultz made seven starts at High-A Winston-Salem and had a 3.95 ERA, 42 strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.91 in 27„ innings. Averaging four innings per start with no pitch counts above 67, Schultz is ‘‘easy-going’’ his second minor-league season, too. He had a 1.33 ERA with 38 strikeouts and six walks in 10 starts (27 innings) at Low-A Kannapolis last season.

“I know that whoever is making the pitching schedule knows what they’re doing,” said Schultz, who missed the first two months of his first season with a flexor strain, then was shut down late in the season with a shoulder impingement. “I’m confident that when they tell me to throw, it’s all part of a bigger plan. So I’m sure that it’s going to work out. Especially after having not that many innings last year, just getting as many as I can this year is important.”

Schultz is MLB Pipeline’s No. 40 prospect, third among lefty pitchers. Triple-A Charlotte shortstop Colson Montgomery (No. 11), Birmingham right-hander Drew Thorpe (No. 55) and Birmingham catcher Edgar Quero (No. 95) also occupy spots in the top 100.

While the Sox are talent-thin at Charlotte, Schultz joins the rotation of a 31-16 Birmingham team that includes Thorpe (7-1, 1.33 ERA), Jairo Iriarte (2-3, 2.77), lefty Ky Bush (3-2, 1.95), lefty Jake Eder (1-1, 4.57) and Mason Adams (3-3, 2.09). Thorpe, Iriarte, Eder, Bush and Quero came in trades for Dylan Cease, Jake Burger, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez.

Schultz said he was surprised to be promoted this season but was happy about it.

“I’m really happy,’’ he said. ‘‘Happy that I’m healthy, happy I’m performing well, happy to be in Double-A.

“I’m happy with my command. I added a cutter to the pitch mix, so it’s always a nice thing to have another pitch, and I’m confident with all four of my pitches now. So it’s just getting experience, getting innings. That’s helping everything.”

NOTES: Third baseman Bryan Ramos was optioned to Charlotte after going 0-for-14 since his return from a quad strain that landed him on the injured list. Ramos, 22, was 9-for-46 with two doubles and two RBI in 15 games. Infielder Lenyn Sosa is expected to be recalled from Charlotte.

• Left-hander Sammy Peralta cleared waivers and was outrighted to Charlotte.

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