The 2021 MLB draft is scheduled to take place during the All-Star break in July. Between now and then we will be profiling several players who the Yankees may be considering. Predicting who a team will draft is a crapshoot, so hopefully if we profile enough players we’ll profile the one the Yankees take with their first round pick. You can view the full archive here. Today’s profile: Benny Montgomery.
Montgomery is a 6′-4″ 195 lb outfielder for Red Land High School in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania. It is rare to see Northeast prospects ranked so highly which speaks to the talent that Montgomery is. He made his claim to fame last summer when he won the home run derby at the Perfect Game Showcase. His raw tools are exciting – he has already hit exit velocities over 104 mph on a tee, has a barrel speed of 85 mph, and has clocked 97 mph on a throw from the outfield. He is committed to play for UVA this fall, though he appears likely to sign with the MLB team who drafts him in the first round.
Like many other high school players, it is difficult to find stats on Montgomery. His high school team has made it to the state championship this year, though. I was able to find stats for Montgomery’s sophomore year in 2019 in which he hit .359 with a .418 OBP and 2 home runs. Here is video of a recent home run:
Montgomery oozes tools, plain and simple and that’s reflected in the various outlets’ reports.
MLB Pipeline ranks Benny 15th overall highlighting his raw power and great speed, defense, and arm. Here is a snipped of their scouting report:
Hailing from just outside the state capital in Harrisburg, Montgomery does a lot of things really well on the baseball field. All summer long, he showed off his close to top-of-the-scale speed (some scouts have 80 run times for him) and his tremendous raw power that helped him win the Perfect Game All-American Classic Home Run Derby. The main concern with the Virginia recruit had been with his ability to get to that power, with a bit of a rigid swing and flat bat path.
Though he lacks fluidity in his swing, the 6-foot-4 right-handed hitter did a very good job of making contact against good competition on the summer showcase circuit. A premium, fast-twitch athlete, Montgomery is a plus defender with an outstanding work ethic. He reminds some of Jayson Werth from his amateur days and will go to the team that believes the bat will play at the next level.mlb pipeline
And here is additional video from MLB Pipeline:
Baseball America ranks Montgomery 22nd overall in the class saying his “combination of athleticism, outstanding tools, and physical upside is hard to top in this year’s draft” though they also mention the huge risk for Montgomery due to a hitch in his swing which he is working to clear up.
Montgomery worked out with Casey Smith who is also DJ LeMahieu’s off-season hitting coach to refine his swing.
Like MLB Pipeline, FanGraphs has Montgomery as the 15th best prospect, again claiming he is high risk. FanGraphs is known for betting on upside.
Does he make sense?
Usually, the answer to this question is always yes, yet here I’m not sure. Like FanGraphs, I’m usually all about the upside, though there are serious red flags for Montgomery already in his swing.
That hitch is there and it is very real. In all his game swings, you’ll notice he drops his hands during his load like this:
That is different from his cage swings which look like this:
You can clearly see how he drops his swings in his game swings, which lead me to believe that he will struggle with high fastballs in pro ball. And in a league that is throwing higher and harder than ever, that is a concerning profile.
The other element working against Montgomery is that he is nearly 19 years old, which is old for a high schooler. With high upside projects teams usually prefer younger high school players who still have time and room to grow. Montgomery is likely finished growing in height and will put on some muscle as a pro prospect.
Having gotten the negatives out of the way, oh boy is Montgomery tantalizing! You know he can stick in CF long-term with his speed, route running, and arm talent so there are no concerns there even if he puts on some muscle once he is on a pro diet and workout plan. Moreover, Montgomery has bat speed, exit velocity, and raw power – all of which the Yankees are known to love.
Last year’s first rounder Austin Wells had some of the highest exit velocities in his draft class and we all know how much the Yankees fawned over Clint Frazier’s famed bat speed when they acquired him. Well, Montgomery is tooled up out of his mind, and if the Yankees or some other team believes they can clean up the swing mechanics, there’s no telling what Montgmery can become.
The upside for Montgomery is a right-handed Joey Gallo, though the downside is someone like Estevan Florial who has all the talent in the world, but if you can’t make contact, then it’s all for naught. There is a decent chance a team picking ahead of the Yankees dreams on the talent and takes a flyer on Benny. If he does make it to their selection at 20th overall, the Yankees will have to ask themselves if they want to play it safe or swing for a home run.