Big decisions coming up for Braden Montgomery
MADISON, Miss. (WLBT) - When it comes to making choices, Braden Montgomery is pretty good at doing that. Just look at the 34 he scored on the ACT.
However, there may be no bigger multiple choice question than the one the Madison Central star baseball player will be faced with in a few weeks. Already signed on to play college baseball for a traditional power in the Stanford Cardinal, Montgomery will have to decide between that or the allure of professional baseball and multi-million dollar signing bonus that comes with it.
“I’d love to do either,” said Montgomery who expects to hear his name called early in the 2021 Major League Baseball Draft in July.
“You can never really tell with the draft so if I do end up going to Stanford, I don’t want to make it seem like a bad option, because it’s obviously a great option.”
Montgomery currently ranks 60th among the 2021 draft prospects according to MLB.com, and it’s easy to see why. In 84 at bats in his senior season at Madison Central, he is hitting for a blistering .476 average with 45 RBI. He possesses power from both sides of the plate as a switch-hitter to go along with the above-average speed and defense in centerfield.
But what really has the scouts salivating is the ability on the mound.
Having only really been focusing on pitching for the last two seasons, Montgomery’s fastball sits in the mid 90′s while having been clocked as fast as 96 miles per hour. He also can throw a curveball and changeup for strike, already giving him a three-pitch arsenal in the beginning of his development.
“A very rare situation for a young man to be in,” said MCHS coach Patrick Robey, who has known Montgomery since the player was 12 years old. “Obviously, it’s a great situation.”
Essentially, Montgomery has turned himself into the Mississippi high school version Shohei Ohtani. It’s because of how well the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher and slugger is currently doing in MLB this season, that Montgomery believes he can do that as well, whether that’s in college or in the minor leagues next year.
“When there are people like that, nobody can tell you that it’s impossible,” Montgomery explained. “They’re right there and it’s right there for everybody to see.”
If Montgomery ultimately does opt to continue both as a pitcher and everyday player, Robey knows it’ll take some serious mental fortitude, but he believes his player is built to do it.
“Even at our level, it takes a lot of focus to be an elite position player, it takes a lot of focus to be an elite pitcher,” Robey said. “Every young man on our team fills out a goal sheet and his goals are high. The work ethic reflects those goals.”
That work ethic includes getting in hitting cage and defensive work both before school and after team practice, all while still being able to maintain the grades to be able to get into an academic institution as prestigious as Stanford.
A good education is something that has always instilled in Montgomery from a young age, which is why it is not out of the realm of possibility that he still opts for college even if he is drafted high in July. However, playing professional baseball has always been his dream and that will be tough to turn away from.
It’s a tough decision, and one that will be very public with whichever path he chooses.
“It’s all just crazy to think about accomplishing a goal that I’ve had since I was seven,” Montgomery said. “It’s definitely been difficult at times just trying to perform with everyone out there watching.”
For now however, Montgomery is just focusing on bringing Madison Central a fourth state championship. The Jaguars will begin a best-of-three series with Tupelo on Monday in the MHSAA Class 6A semifinals. Montgomery will get the start on the mound in game one.
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