Carson Montgomery looks to command and attack in 2024

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Padres pitching prospect Carson Montgomery is looking to make his mark in the Padres farm system in 2024. 

Taken in the 11th round out of Florida State University, Montgomery is an arm that can operate as both a starter or reliever within the Friars farm system. But to start the season, he will be a part of the Lake Elsinore Storms starting rotation.

“I’m super excited to be here; it’s been a long time coming. said Padres prospect & Lake Elsinore Storm starter Carson Montgomery,Obviously, I had the opportunity out of high school to play pro ball, but I chose the college route. Now I’m finally here, and it’s time to get it done.” 

As he alluded to above, Montgomery passed on going pro out of high school in 2020, even with many scouts having him as a top 50 prospect in the 2020 draft class and opting instead to attend ACC powerhouse Florida State University.

During his three years in Tallahassee, Montgomery worked 127 innings while posting a 5.60 ERA. However, his lively arm and quality raw stuff allowed him to post a 10.1 K/9 in his college career.

“I like to attack hitters,” Montgomery noted. “This past season, walks were a big concern for me, but I have good stuff, so it’s always been about putting that good stuff in the zone, and I know good things will happen.”

In his final season at FSU, which included an ERA north of 6.50 and a career-high walk percentage of 16.3%, Montgomery’s raw stuff and potential were extremely evident. At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, he has a plus arm speed pair with a three-quarter arm slot and cross-firing action that can make him difficult to pick up. 

Montgomery is a four-pitch guy, and his best pitch is undoubtedly his slider. Sitting in the mid-80s, it has solid depth, anywhere from 11 to 13 inches of horizontal break, and can generate a ton of swing and miss.

Teaming with Montgomery’s slider is a fastball that sits 93 to 95 mph and has touched 98 mph on multiple occasions. However, while in college, he mostly threw two-seamers or sinkers, Now, Montgomery has started to rely more on a four-seamer. Rounding out the arsenal is a mid-80s changeup and a new high-80s cutter that he utilized/added last season.  

“I added the cutter last season and plan on continuing to throw that. It’s not a main pitch for me – it’s more of a fourth pitch- more of a correction pitch for me,” said Montgomery.  I was a sinker guy in college, only threw two-seamers, and I’m working on the four-seam now. That four-seam was a big area of focus for me at spring training; I’m trying to get more life on it and be able to go up in the zone with it.”

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The Padres have already begun making some minor tweaks to Montgomery mechanically as they look to help loosen the big right-hander’s hips and lower half and are emphasizing more functional movements inside the weight room.  

Transitioning from college ball to pro baseball can, and has, always varied from player to player. But for Montgomery, who threw in Arizona with the organization after being drafted, the move to pro ball and the extra emphasis placed on development have been a welcomed one.

“Pro ball is totally different environment from college,” Montgomery commented. “The competitiveness is awesome, but if you’re not winning, the pressure is on. But here, it’s all more developmental.  It’s more about getting the guys better, and it’s been a super nice change, and I think it’s huge for me to have that time to develop. ” 

However, even with his physical talents and high ceiling stuff, Carson still feels that his greatest strength lies with his mental toughness & ability in between the ears. 

“They say the game is 90% mental and 10% skill, and the mental side has always been the biggest thing for me because I’ve always been a guy who thinks more is better, but I’ve started to learn that less is more,” Montgomery said. I’ve been a guy who has erred at times on the side of doing too much, but now I’m trying to simplify everything and do a little less at times. That is something I’ve definitely learned getting into pro ball in this first year.”

It’s a high level of mental strength & toughness that Montgomery’s current manager, Lukas Ray himself, has already seen firsthand. 

“Carson was a guy who, as a freshman in college, was throwing for Team USA collegiate. He has that bulldog mentality in there,” Lake Elsinore Storm manager Lukas Ray said“ It’s going to be fun to see it out here in a professional atmosphere.”

From a player makeup and raw tool perspective, Montgomery has everything he needs to find success in 2024. The only question is, can he piece all of it together? Regardless, he’ll be an intriguing name and arm for friar fans to keep tabs on this season.

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