LEWISBERRY, Pa. — A York County high school senior may hear his name called in the first round of July's Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft.
Benny Montgomery, 18, is a star outfielder for Red Land High School and is currently ranked as the 21st overall prospect in the 2021 MLB Draft.
Not only is Montgomery ranked as one of the top prospects in the upcoming draft, scouts graded his fielding and speed tools to be the best of any player in the class.
After a Perfect Game Home Run Derby win in 2020, and establishing his reputation on a national stage, Montgomery is looking to finish his senior season strong before deciding whether to go pro or attend The University of Virginia, where he has committed to attend college.
You can read the Q&A with Montgomery below:
CALE AHEARN: Where did 'Benny' come from?
BENNY MONTGOMERY: I think I made than name when I was little. I guess I heard it, and that's what called myself as a little kid and it stuck.
CA: 2020 was a whirlwind, but that didn't necessarily slow you down. You were still active on and off the field. Can you describe what the past year has been like as you solidified yourself as one of the best baseball players in the country?
BM: Like you said, whirlwind, definitely, for sure. That's how it was. For the past year it's been a lot more by myself training than with other people. I do have one of my best friends that came and worked out a ton over the COVID break, so I was able to have someone close by to work out with and get better with, but it was mostly by myself.
Of course, the high school season got lost last year, so that was less baseball time, but I got more training time in by myself. So, it worked out from that standpoint.
Of course, those in-game reps are valuable and I missed 'em, but I guess the silver lining is I got to work out more.
CA: I watched your Perfect Game Home Run Derby win last year -- pretty impressive stuff. How did it feel to take a title like that at a national event?
BM: That was the highlight of my summer, that event. I went into it knowing it that I was up against the best guys in the country that could hit balls just as far as I could -- maybe farther. I didn't know back then but I guess that was the case because I came out on top.
I was consistent. My BP thrower -- we got to pick our BP thrower and he was awesome. Everything turned out well, good day, great ballpark and it was cool to pull it off.
I think I got 14 the final round, and that was a blast. Toby Keith was watching, everybody was watching, so it was super cool.
CA: How tired were you? You looked pretty tired at the end there.
BM: I was exhausted.
I didn't know how much effort you put into those. It's 110% swings for 5 straight minutes -- it's a workout. At the end, you're just using every last bit you have to get to try to get something over the fence.
So, that was tough. I was dead, I was tired, for sure.
CA: December of 2020 hits and the first 2021 MLB Draft top prospect rankings are released, and a kid from Lewisberry is in the top 30 prospects. What does that do for you mindset for your baseball career moving forward?
BM: Of course, yeah, it does make me think a little bit about the future, I guess. There's a lot of exciting things that could happen. I just don't quite know yet.
But I get that question asked a lot, and when it comes to scouts and rankings and stuff like that, I have to try as hard as I can not to focus on it. I have to play a baseball season and the future doesn't matter unless I play well right now.
So, I really, honestly, I just have to try as hard as I can to block all that extra stuff out. Rankings don't matter, nothing matters if I don't play well and if my team doesn't win.
So, I just gotta stay steady.
Of course, it's cool, it's awesome. It shows what you're doing is right.
But, the only thing that matters is this summer or after that, so I just have to stay focused and play.
CA: Did you ever think that this would be a possibility for you?
BM: I guess I think it's every kid's dream for that to happen -- it was mine too. Ever since I was a little kid, told everyone I was going to be a Major League Baseball player.
And it's kind of one of those things that adults look down upon, it's like, 'it's not realistic, why would you do that?'"
But, in the back of my mind, I kind of always knew that I had it.
There were a ton of setbacks throughout my life playing baseball, but I kind of always knew in the back of my mind, that I was gonna eventually figure it out.
I guess over the last year or two my dream has kind of turned into a goal.
It used to be my dream to play Major League Baseball -- now, it's my goal.
I know it's possible and with hard work, and if I give it all out -- I will do that. That's what I need to make sure that I do, and just give it all everyday.
CA: Do you have any goals for yourself and the team for your senior season at Red Land?
BM: Team goal is to get as far as we can and win a State Championship. That's what I want to do.
We got robbed of one last year -- we had one of the best teams ever in the state last year, and of course, COVID, we didn't get to show off that team. So, that was super unfortunate.
This year, we are 6-0 so far, rivalry game tomorrow, hope we can keep that streak going. We look awesome.
Our whole lineup is getting it done. Our pitching staff is much deeper than I thought it was going to be at the beginning of the year. We are looking really and and it's looking like there is a pretty decent shot we can make a good run this year.
Personal goals -- don't really have too many except to play my game. There is no stat number or any type of number that I'm trying to do. Just trying to go out and play my game.
CA: What would it feel like to hear your name called in the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft?
BM: Of course, that would be a dream come true if that did happen. I don't know when that might happen -- it might not happen this year. It might happen after college, I don't know.
I just have to keep playing my game.
Of course, whenever that time does come, that will be the best day of my life. That has been something I have been looking forward to for my whole life, even more so these last couple of years.
It's something I try hard not to think about, but I usually do. It's hard not to think about. It's a life-changer.
It's a very important step in my long goal.
CA: Who was your favorite Major League team growing up?
BM: The Phillies.
CA: Can't dispute that. Would you be disappointed if another team took you in the MLB Draft?
BM: Absolutely not.
Any team that takes me and believes I can be a huge part of their franchise, I would love to go to.
Any fanbase that accepts me, any team that accepts me, that's where I want to be.
If that's the Phillies, that's awesome.
I've been a Phillies guy all my life. Chase Utley is my favorite player, I named my little brother after him, and I wear #26.
So, of course, that would be a dream come true.
But, any team that says, '"Here you go, you can be a professional baseball player,'" it doesn't matter who they are, I will love that.
At the end of the day, that's all that matters.
CA: You are committed to the University of Virginia (UVA), but let's say you get drafted in July. Are you heading to UVA come fall?
BM: I don't know. I can't answer that question.
It's still early. I try not to think about.
With the draft being in July, they moved it back a month. So, that's an extra month of baseball I can get in.
But, I don't know.
Of course, it's been my dream to play professional baseball, but it's also been my dream to go to UVA.
I know whatever choice that happens is going to happen and will be in my best interest.
I love UVA -- Coach O'Connor, Coach McMullen, the whole program and the university is amazing.
CA: What drew you to UVA?
BM: Definitely, the academics, first. It's a great school and that was important to me.
The baseball program has had success and been phenomenal. National Championship in 2015 and a ton of years of successful baseball before that.
The coaches have been awesome. When I went there they made me feel at home and made my parents feel at home.
It was a no-brainer choice.
CA: No matter what route you take, the ultimate dream is to go pro?
BM: Whatever happens, if the pro starts maybe sooner than later, I don't know when it will start, but no matter what, I want to be a professional baseball player.
I know whatever route I take, it will be in the best possible interest, whether it's sooner or whether it's play college ball, which I would love to do as well.
Like I said, UVA is my dream school, the coaches are amazing, they're fantastic.
I would love nothing more than to hang out there, and my parents would too.
It's too early to tell yet, just got to keep playing and we will see what happens.
CA: Is there anything about playing at a higher level that intimidates you?
BM: It really all just excites me.
Of course, it's better competition, so that can be a little bit scary.
But, that's nothing new to me, I've always played harder competition before.
Of course, the minor leagues is a different level, but I'm excited for the challenge.