Fast-Rising Mason Montgomery Lands In Rays' Big League Camp
Mason Montgomery has been moving fast since the Rays drafted him in the sixth round in 2021 out of Texas Tech.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound lefthander compiled a 2.10 ERA over 124 innings for High-A Bowling Green and Double-A Montgomery last season to earn organization pitcher of the year honors. That helped him earn an invite to big league camp this spring.
“It’s definitely a really cool opportunity,’’ Montgomery said. “Over the past year and a half that I've been with the Rays, I’ve just kind of tried to treat every day and every outing the same.
“Whatever level you're at, or whoever you're playing, or pitching against, just try to treat it the same then kind of have fun with it.’’
That philosophy has worked out well. Montgomery had plenty of fun last season, when he struck out 12.4 and walked 3.1 per nine innings.
The progress has been a good reinforcement for Montgomery's ultimate goal of reaching the majors.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said he had heard good things about Montgomery and was eager to see the 22-year-old this spring, including his March 2 Tropicana Field debut.
“I’ve heard plenty about him, just from the early reports and the conversations, and I know he's very well-liked,’’ Cash said. “He's got a little bit of a unique arm action and he hides the ball very well. He does look physical, like a strong guy, put together well, and I think he was kind of sitting right around that 93 (mph) mark.’’
As part of the improvement and drive for consistency, Montgomery has made improvements with his secondary pitches.
“I think I have made some progress with the slider,’’ he said. “It's actually funny. I didn't even throw a slider prior to spring training last year. So last season was the first season throwing a slider for me, and it has been a pretty good pitch for me.
"The changeup, it's always an ongoing work in progress. At the moment, I've been fiddling around with several different grips, but I think we found one that we kind of like right now.’’
— Infielders Charlie Culberson and Daniel Robertson, reliever Kyle Crick and outfielder Ben Gamel were among the veterans to sign minor league deals shorty before big league camp opened.
— For their lone exhibition at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex after a two-week stay to open camp, the team wore Orlando Rays caps in homage to their Double-A team that played there from 2000 to 2003.