MLB Draft Roundup: UVA loses top recruits Montgomery, Panzini, who sign for seven figures

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Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

It’s official: Benny Montgomery won’t be matriculating at Virginia.

The Pennsylvania outfielder signed last week with the Colorado Rockies, who had taken him with the eighth pick in the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft earlier in the month.

The contract has Montgomery getting a $5 million signing bonus.

Montgomery hit .417 with seven homers in 2021.

Also not matriculating: Shane Panzini, a righthanded pitcher from Spring Lake, N.J., who was taken in the fourth round with the 108th pick by the Kansas City Royals.

His draft slot had him in line for a $538,200 bonus.

How the Royals got him: they went over slot, throwing $1 million at him.

Panzini, with a fastball that tops out at 98, and sits 91-95 in starts, was 9-0 with a 0.91 ERA in 2021 at Red Bank Catholic in 2021, with 115 strikeouts in 61.2 innings.

More losses to MLB

Zack Gelof, who manned the hot corner for UVA on its run to the 2021 College World Series, has signed with the Oakland A’s, who had taken Gelof in the second round of the draft.

His signing bonus was $1.16 million.

Gelof was an All-ACC performer in 2021, slashing .312/.393/.485 with nine homers and 41 RBIs – and 12 stolen bases in 13 tries – for the ‘Hoos on the way to Omaha.

Another key guy for the 2021 ‘Hoos, lefty ace Andrew Abbott, signed with the Cincinnati Reds, who had taken him in the second round of the draft.

The signing bonus: $1.3 million.

Abbott was 9-6 with a 2.87 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 162 Ks/32 BBs in 106.2 IP and a .228 opponent batting average in 2021.

Righthander Griff McGarry signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, who took him in the fifth round, last week.

His contract included a $322,500 bonus, below the slot value of $375,200.

Won’t go into his season numbers here, because they were awful. All you need to remember: seven shutout innings in the Super Regional, a no-hitter into the eighth in the CWS.

Righthander Mike Vasil signed with the New York Mets, who had taken him in the eighth round, getting a $181,200 bonus, right on slot.

Vasil capped an up-and-down 2021 – 7-5, 4.52 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 73 KS/18 BBs in 81.2 IP, .300 opponent batting average – with a big-boy effort against Texas in Omaha.

Shortstop Nic Kent signed with the Colorado Rockies, who had taken him in the 11th round, extracting a $175,000 bonus, $50,000 above slot.

Kent, a three-year starter in the middle infield, played in 130 straight games to close out his UVA career.

He started all 63 at shortstop in 2021 and led the team with 45 RBI. He belted a career-best eight home runs, including a solo blast in a comeback win over Dallas Baptist in Game 3 of the Super Regional.

Finally, we get to righty reliever Zach Messinger, who signed with the New York Yankees for $225,000, $100,000 above his 13th-round slot.

Messinger logged 57 innings in 2021 making 28 appearances and four starts. The righthander fanned a career-high 64 batters and pitched to a 4.89 ERA. He logged innings in two of the Cavaliers ACC-best six shutouts.

In relief against VCU on April 10, Messinger struck out 10 batters in 4.1 innings, the first Cavalier reliever in school history to strike out 10 batters in a game.

Sum total of the signing bonuses for these kids: $9.36 million.

Story by Chris Graham


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