Montgomery relishing 'big expectations' at Rox camp

February 26th, 2024

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfield prospect Benny Montgomery’s extended 2023 energized him for '24.

Colorado’s top pick in 2021 out of Red Land High School in Lewisberry, Pa., Montgomery batted .251 with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs in 109 games at High-A Spokane.

Partly to make up for playing time missed when he sustained a bruised left knee in a collision with a teammate in late July -- and partly to test him against Major League Baseball’s best prospects -- the Rockies sent Montgomery to the Arizona Fall League in November. His response was a .333 batting average with three home runs, 14 RBIs, two doubles and a triple in 19 games with Salt River, which earned him All-AFL selection and his first invitation to Major League camp.

Montgomery, 21, rested after the season, but minimally so -- just a week off before strength and conditioning, and three weeks off from hitting while healing from left hand soreness. But especially after the AFL performance, he didn’t want to let everything he picked up in 2023 go stale before turning his sights on '24.

“Where did I stand among the best guys my age and a little bit older?” said Montgomery, who can solidify his status by improving his contact point so he can more consistently drive the ball in the air. “I was really happy with the way things went offensively. Everybody was good, and I felt like I was better than everybody from a competing standpoint. I learned things baserunning-wise, IQ-wise, that I was really happy with.”

Playing time has been understandably light over the first three days of Cactus League games. Montgomery has walked once in three plate appearances. But he continues to put in the work, particularly energized by a lifting program and speed work he hopes to use while running the bases this year. Montgomery powered up to 225 pounds in late January and now says he is slightly above 220 pounds.

He went 18-for-23 in steal attempts with Spokane, mainly because the team had a strong offensive lineup. But he went 10-for-12 in just 19 AFL games, and he is still working on that part of the game. Montgomery also hits the conditioning field with Rockies first-base coach Ron Gideon and organization outfield and baserunning coordinator Chris Denorfia before 8 a.m. to take fly balls off a machine, along with big leaguers Nolan Jones and Brenton Doyle.

Montgomery finds himself in the same category as other first-rounders in big league camp who are trying to see where they fall in the Rockies’ outfield plans -- including names like Zac Veen (ninth overall pick in 2020), Sterlin Thompson (an infielder/outfielder and the 31st overall pick in 2022) and Jordan Beck (38th overall pick in 2022).

“Big expectations, but big expectations are there for a reason,” Montgomery said. “I was picked high because the Rockies believe in me, and I believe in myself.”