Quietly, the state of Indiana has a little bit of history in producing some pretty impressive draft talent. It’s been a sneaky hotbed for draft-eligible bluechips over the last decade, and 2021 appears to have another banger on the way.
Indeed, Holland, Indiana shortstop Colson Montgomery has all the tools necessary to go very high this July. Scouts are flocking to see the tall, rangy infielder in action this spring after tearing up the showcase circuit in 2020. At 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, Montgomery has the *look* of a potential superstar.
Indiana has a knack for producing impact players. Guys like Kevin Kiermaier, Jeff Samardzija, Adam Lind and Scott Rolen snuck out of the Hoosier stater. Hell, in recent years, Indiana has seen a flurry of guys go in the first round. 2019 was especially impressive with Kody Hoese, Zack Thompson and Drew Jameson going in the first, while six other kids from the state went in the first four rounds. In 2018, Nick Schnell went to the Rays at pick no. 26.
But for my money, none of the players listed from the last five years are as talented as Montgomery.
Given the size and the projectable frame, it’s easy to see why scouts want to get their eyes on him. A two-sport superstar, Montgomery won the All-Southwest Boys Basketball Player of the Year award for the state of Indiana this year, and figures to do the same in baseball as well. He committed to play baseball at the University of Indiana, but Hoosiers head basketball coach Mike Woodson had interest in him on the hardwood in Bloomington as well.
That all may be moot as Montgomery appears poised to move on to professional baseball this July.
Future Value (Tool)
A tall, lanky, well-leveraged lefty hitter, Montgomery has an athletic frame with a strong, sturdy lower half and immense physical projection. Montgomery has a taller stance with a higher hand setup. The loading mechanism gets him into his legs a bit as he really sits into his swing. Montgomery can get a little pull-happy, but that’s where most of his power currently is. He’s shown a knack for spraying line drives up the middle as well and certainly doesn’t get cheated with his above average bat speed. Most scouts believe there is more impact in the bat as he continues to grow and mature. Montgomery doesn’t have a terribly long swing by any means, so mechanically, I think the athleticism and fundamentals are there to hit at the next level.
The hit tool was certainly on display in October at the WWBA World Championships, a massive tournament involving the best high school talent in the country. Over seven games, Montgomery went 6 for 16 with a homer, two doubles and five walks.
Where Montgomery has been susceptible has been with quality off-speed stuff. Now granted, you’re not going to see a great deal of quality changeups in high school ball in the state of Indiana, but it is something to watch.
Admittedly, this may be an undersell. But Montgomery must get stronger if he’s to tap into the potential opportunity his body presents him with. His frame can likely comfortably hold 215 pounds on the diamond, and that’s a mark I think he’ll need to focus on reaching.
Montgomery already has the natural leverage and easy loft necessary to hit for power. He stays connected and knows how to impact the baseball. The swing is short for a guy his size, so I don’t believe he’ll will run into many situations where he’s simply overmatched. As he continues to get stronger and becomes more direct to the ball, it’s pretty easy to envision a 60-power bat here.
As a shortstop, given his size, I think Montgomery is probably an average defender, especially if he gets up to the 215 pound mark. That’s no slight either. A guy his size being able to play the position, let alone at an average level is no small feat.
When I watched the Perfect Game National Showcase last June, there were over 500 athletes participating in the event. Montgomery, among the hundreds and hundreds of kids, immediately stuck out. For a guy his size to move as well laterally as he does is pretty impressive. In some cases, Montgomery moves like a guy 8 inches shorter than he is.
Montgomery takes advantage of his length and long legs with big strides. He’s reasonably light on his feet and really quiets down around the ball. He should have no problem whatsoever handling the routine plays to his left or right as a pro.
If Montgomery is to move to third base or left field, I still think you’re talking about an average, maybe a slightly above average defender. He currently lacks the explosion and twitch you like to see from guys who will play an exemplary brand of defense on the dirt, but I’ve certainly been wrong before.
Despite his size, Montgomery has never shown the arm as an especially loud tool. It’s a good arm, an average arm, but it’s not the howitzer you expect to see from guys with a similar frame. The arm action itself is very good. It’s not like you’re watching Brad Miller out there throwing axes at the first baseman. There’s just not a ton of oomph behind his throws. All that being said, with added weight and the potential for added athleticism, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Montgomery’s arm leap into the above average, or even plus tier. We’re talking about a really talented multi-dimensional athlete here. There’s likely some more in the tank.
Now to Montgomery’s credit, his arm accuracy hasn’t seemed to be any sort of issue. His throws are on time with carry and do not tail up the line. He’ll be a steady defender at shortstop, though if he’s forced to move to third base the arm may be tested now and again.
Colson is currently an average runner, maybe a tick above, but you do have to envision that settling in closer to average as he continues to add mass and get stronger. He’s not a lumbering player, so I don’t think he’s the sort of athlete that loses any value on the base paths by the time he hits his prime. He probably won’t steal you more than a handful of bases each year, but I do think he’ll add value on that side of the ball.
Colson Montgomery is the perfect intersection of a proven performer, projectability, a rock-solid swing built for modern damage and an up-the-middle profile. His profile will rely on the bat more than other shortstops, but with some solid player development, he has a ceiling most other shortstops can only dream of. It’s really easy to throw visions of Corey Seager on the native of Holland, Indiana, but that’s awfully low-hanging fruit. Instead, we’ll let this kid pave his own path. It would be nice if that path was paved in teal.