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Top UVA baseball recruit Benny Montgomery taken in first round of MLB Draft

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Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Virginia almost certainly stands to lose its top recruit in Brian O’Connor’s Class of 2021, Lewisberry, Pa., outfielder Benny Montgomery, who went to the Colorado Rockies with the eighth pick in the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft Sunday night.

As the eighth pick, Montgomery is in line for a signing bonus in the area of $5.18 million.

His Twitter bio still lists him as a @uvabaseballsignee, but … no.

The UVA partial scholarship is at this point just signing leverage for Montgomery, if even that.

“I had meetings with some of their top guys a few weeks ago, and I knew that they liked me, and I liked them as well,” Montgomery said in a post-draft interview last night.

“The thought of playing at Coors Field, where the ball flies, can’t be cooler to me.”

O’Connor, a smart guy, knew this was coming. He’s lost numerous guys to the draft in the past. His Class of 2016 lost three, including  Max Kranick, a righthander out of Scranton, Pa., who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 11th round of the 2016 MLB Draft, was able to wrangle a $300,000 signing bonus out of the Pirates – $200,000 above the allotment for a post-10th round pick – and bypassed Virginia for MiLB.

O’Connor spoke with us on the “Jerry Ratcliffe Show” podcast a couple of weeks ago on a day that happened to be the one on which Kranick made his MLB debut with the Pirates. He pitched five perfect innings in his debut against the St. Louis Cardinals before being lifted after a lengthy rain delay.

Montgomery had committed to UVA as a freshman, back before he grew into what is now a 6’4”, 200-pound frame with power (he won the Perfect Game All-American Classic Home Run Derby) to go with his elite speed.

“You know, when Benny committed to us his freshman year in high school, nobody knew, Virginia baseball didn’t know, professional baseball didn’t know, nobody knew that Benny Montgomery would develop into a first-round pick, because it’s so early, you just don’t know how it’s going to end up panning out for you,” O’Connor said.

Two other Virginia recruits – righthanded pitcher Shane Panzini (Spring Lake, N.J.) and shortstop Casey Saucke II (Rochester, N.Y.) – rank in Baseball America’s Top 500 Best Available Prospects Remaining.

Panzini is at 203 on the list, which could have him going somewhere in the seventh or eighth rounds.

Saucke, who projects as a third baseman, is at 438, which could have him going in the 14th or 15th rounds.

Story by Chris Graham


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