15 Jul

road not taken

The lone high school player from Mississippi picked in the MLB draft this week was not Braden Montgomery, the former Madison Central two-way star and the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year award winner. (It was Brennon McNair, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound shortstop from Magee, who was plucked by Kansas City in the 11th round as something of a sleeper pick.) Montgomery, a Stanford signee, was rated as the No. 66 draft prospect by mlb.com, but apparently his asking price to sign did not match up with what teams were willing to offer. So, he’s off to Stanford, which is still pretty awesome. A local scout called him “an exciting talent.” Montgomery posted a .479 average with seven home runs and 50 RBIs and compiled a 9-0 record on the mound with a 0.74 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings. He’ll be eligible for the draft again in three years, perhaps following the path of J.T. Ginn, the 2018 Gatorade POY at Brandon. Ginn was picked in the first round by the Los Angeles Dodgers that year but turned down a reported $2.4M to pitch at Mississippi State. He sparkled as a freshman but suffered an elbow injury that required surgery early in 2020, his sophomore season. Nevertheless, the New York Mets took him in the second round last year. The right-hander signed for $2.9M and recently began his pro career. He is 2-1 with a 2.48 ERA in Low-A ball. The 2020 and 2019 Gatorade POYs were drafted in 2020, DeSoto Central’s Blaze Jordan going to Boston in the third round and Biloxi’s Colt Keith to Detroit in the fifth and final round. Jordan signed for $1.75M and is playing in the Florida Complex League, batting .194 with a homer. Keith, a junior when he won the POY award, signed for $500,000 and is now in Low-A ball, batting .291. The 2017 and 2016 Gatorade award winners weren’t drafted, then or since. Trey Shaffer, from Biloxi, went to Southeastern Louisiana and recently transferred to LSU. Jason Barber, from Oxford, signed with Ole Miss, pitched very little as a freshman in 2017 and then gave up baseball. P.S. Walker Powell, C-USA pitcher of the year at Southern Miss, has signed with the Chicago Cubs as an undrafted free agent, according to Baseball America. The 6-foot-8 right-hander went 10-2, 2.31 ERA this season for the Golden Eagles.

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