Benny Montgomery signed with the Virginia baseball program last fall, but do not expect him to ever play for the Cavaliers.
Montgomery, who was a senior outfielder at Red Land High School in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, this year, was chosen by the Colorado Rockies with the eighth overall pick in the Major League Baseball amateur draft Sunday night in Denver.
Montgomery batted .417 with seven homers this year, leading his team to the state title game and earning Gatorade Pennsylvania player of the year honors.
The Pittsburgh Pirates selected University of Louisville catcher Henry Davis with the first pick, with the Texas Rangers then taking Vanderbilt pitcher Jack Leiter.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the choices from Denver’s Bellco Theater. Major League Baseball moved the draft from its longstanding June slot to July’s All-Star weekend in an effort to better showcase its future stars.
Davis has big power and an even bigger arm, throwing out 46% of would-be basestealers to become a finalist for the Buster Posey Award as college baseball’s best defensive catcher. He batted .370 and led the Cardinals with 15 homers, and his .482 on-base percentage was the best in the ACC.
The Pirates picked first overall for the first time since taking Gerrit Cole in 2011.
“I’m going to do everything I can to help this organization get where it needs to be,” Davis said.
Leiter has a mid-90s fastball and two overpowering breaking pitches. He is the son of former big league All-Star pitcher Al Leiter. He was 11-4 with a 2.13 ERA with the Commodores, including a no-hitter against South Carolina, and struck out 179 in 110 innings.
The Detroit Tigers went with Oklahoma high school pitcher Jackson Jobe at No. 3.
Jobe was expected to be the first high school pitcher drafted after going 9-0 with a 0.13 ERA at Heritage Hall. He has a deep pitch mix, including a slider that was considered among the best in the draft class.
The Boston Red Sox selected slick-fielding high-school shortstop Marcelo Mayer with the fourth pick. Mayer hit 14 homers his senior year at Eastlake High School in California, one shy of the school record set by 2000 No. 1 pick Adrian Gonzalez. He batted .392 with 45 RBIs and 46 runs.
Mayer had been the favorite to go No. 1 overall.
“I did see it coming,” he said of his slide to the Red Sox. “I knew they were high on me. I’m just super blessed to be part of the organization.”
The Baltimore Orioles followed with Sam Houston State outfielder Colton Cowser. He was named the Southland Conference player of the year after batting .374 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs.
Arizona took Texas high school shortstop Jordan Lawlar at No. 6, with Kansas City taking Connecticut high school pitcher Frank Mozzicato at No. 7.
After Colorado chose Montgomery, the Los Angeles Angels took Miami of Ohio pitcher Sam Bachman at No. 9.
The New York Mets took Leiter’s Vanderbilt teammate, pitcher Kumar Rocker, with the No. 10 pick.
After MLB slimmed the draft from 40 rounds to five last year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s event will go 20 rounds over three days.
The first round was not over at press time.