On Sunday evening, the White Sox selected high school shortstop Colson Montgomery with the 22nd overall pick in the MLB Draft. The selection marks the first prep player taken by the organization in the first-round since Courtney Hawkins and Keon Barnum in 2012. If you haven’t read up on this exciting 19-year-old player already, take a few minutes to do so with our draft report here.
Looking beyond our aforementioned coverage, we wanted to learn more about the newest White Sox prospect. We couldn’t think of a better source to turn to than Colson’s own father, T.J. Montgomery!
In our conversation, we touched on everything from his son’s athleticism in high school to the family’s draft experience just days ago. Check out the Q&A below!
To start things off, around what age did Colson begin showing an interest in baseball?
Like any kid with a brother who’s four years older, he wanted to be just like him. I coached his older bother in all sports so I always brought (Colson) to his brother’s practices and he took to it pretty early – like five or six years old. The only thing was, he would always grab the bat like he wanted to hit left handed but he threw right handed. I would have to make him hit right-handed, but he didn’t look comfortable. Finally, I said ok swing lefty and it looked so sweet that we’ve stuck with it since he first started playing.
On the basketball side of it, same thing. He would follow through with his left hand and I was like no, you’re right-handed. He was following through with his right hand and it didn’t look good so we just kept with his left hand follow through and it was smooth around the same age.
What sort of leagues did he play in growing up?
He started in tee ball, then little league till 11. Then, he started playing a little bit of travel baseball, but he was doing both basketball and baseball till about 14. It was mostly basketball until freshman year of high school following that. No one really knew who he was until his freshman year because he didn’t do all the Perfect Game events or big travel baseball stuff. We just worked at home in our cage and played middle school ball for his junior high school team.
In high school, Colson also played football and basketball. Was there ever a moment when you thought he had a chance to make a career out of baseball over the others?
After his freshman year, he was getting recruited by all of the big baseball teams. Louisville, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Arizona State, basically any team you can think of called, texted, or left messages on our home phone. After that, agents started to get in the picture going into his sophomore year. At that point, he was playing basketball, baseball, and football.
During his sophomore year, he was the starting quarterback of his high school team and took them to state semis. It was during that game when he took the biggest hit he has ever taken, and it got him thinking. (The play) was a late hit, a flag was thrown, and that woke him up to the fact that you never know with football. So he decided after that loss in state semis that was his last football game because he wanted to focus on more baseball in the fall.
So he did that and his football coach wanted us to get some opinions from D-1 coaches in football to see what they thought before he made that final decision. He went on to send out highlights of his sophomore year and they all came back with, he could be a four- or five-star quarterback if he continued to work at it. But Colson had his mind made up; he wanted to get drafted by an MLB team.
Going into his junior year, we started getting more and more news that he was in the conversation of getting drafted pretty high. But at the same time, he was getting a lot of interest in schools wanting him to do both basketball and baseball. For example, Purdue wanted him strictly for basketball with the option to play baseball. Matt Painter said he was the prototypical guard that Purdue loves.
We went on an unofficial visit to Louisville for just basketball. Texas Tech was just basketball. Bobby Hurley saw Colson’s freshman and sophomore highlights in basketball and said, “Yep, he can play for me.” So, we went on an unofficial visit to Arizona State for both basketball and baseball.
Finally, it came down to Indiana University – he always had IU in the back of his mind because we went on unofficial visit and had an amazing time with them. He connected with their coaches so it was time to do an official visit and commit to them. We eventually set up a visit, did the whole tour, and they took us out to eat at the steak house that Bob Knight took all his recruits. We sat in his booth in back and without them knowing, Colson was going to commit.
When he told them, it was such a special night. They really had no idea that he was going to do it. After that, IU basketball came forward and said Colson could walk on in basketball if he wanted to. Colson knew one day, he was going to have to make a tough decision – unknowingly, he was going to be a first rounder – but it happened and now he’s ready to start his professional career.
What is it like to see your son succeed as he has, and watch his name appear at the top of draft boards?
As parents, we couldn’t be more proud of him. Not just his abilities in sports, but in the way he has gone about this! When he was thinking about a major in college, he was undecided and Coach Jeff Mercer was like, you need to go into Sports Psychology because of the mild manor, confident, head strong, and willingness to succeed. So that was what he wanted to major in, especially since he felt that he could help other athletes with their problems having gone through the grind also.
When he got invited to the combine, it was a perfect fit for Colson because he didn’t get scouted as much as the Texas kids or California kids, having played three sports. He really wanted to show off his talents and it worked. Then leading up to the draft, it got real.
For fans who might not know too much about Colson, what are you able to share about his work ethic and personality?
What White Sox fans need to know about Colson is he’s a guy you’re going to love. He will work his tail off to make the team better in any way. He was a winner in his four years of high school in all three sports. They won 2 championships and 2 state championships in football and baseball. They even almost went in basketball this past year. He’ll never take a day off from trying to get better because he wants to win. He’s a team first guy with a great attitude. He’ll be a great clubhouse guy!
Upon arriving in Denver this past week, what were the days and hours like leading up to the draft for you and your family?
Leading up to heading to Denver, there was a lot of excitement! Local news wanted to know everything. Everyone in our community was very supportive and ready to see where he was going. We received texts daily from friends and family wanting any new news! Anticipation was the hardest, but once we got out to Denver, it all started to sink in with all the All-Star stuff and draft signs.
We had to go suit shopping there because Colson didn’t have one. Once he started putting it on in the hotel to head to the Bellco Theatre, it got really real in my mind because I knew what he was getting dressed for. He had to go in early for rehearsal a couple hours before us and that was the longest time ever! A couple hours went by, then we started to get ready and head to the bus to take us to see him at the theater. On the bus, I started to get very emotional because I knew what I was headed to see. My son getting drafted! An 18-year journey was about to happen. I didn’t cry but came close!
Fast-forward to draft night… what was the moment like to hear Colson’s name called and see him on stage with Commissioner Manfred?
Like everyone, we followed the mock drafts. His name got attached to many teams, but we had a good feeling he was going to the White Sox. The Mets kept coming up that they wanted him at 10, so when their pick came up, we were holding our breath. The MLB Network cameras gave it away inside the theater though because when a kid in attendance was about to get drafted, they had two cameras waiting to capture everything before Commissioner Manfred said anything. When they weren’t there, we knew he wasn’t going to the Mets.
Fast forward to the 21st pick with the Cubs, it was the same thing. We heard Colson’s name associated with them, but at that time before they made a pick, Colson’s agent texted him and said, “Congrats, you’re going to the White Sox!” Colson tapped me on my leg with his phone and I read that and I about lost it! I leaned over to Lisa, his mom, and said with a frog in my throat, “The White Sox are taking him.” We both about started to cry and when Lisa told Colson’s brothers and sisters, they all had the biggest smiles.
When the White Sox pick was in and the Commissioner said his name, I got chills – just like now telling you the story. I stood up, hugged him, and told him I was so proud and loved him. His mom did the same. To say our family is proud of him is an understatement! Our family is so close that we all felt a sigh of relief after it was over like, we did it as a family. He made it to that stage because we all helped him in this journey!
We noticed the pictures of your son that you posted with some of the White Sox All-Stars in Denver. What has it been like in the hours and days following the draft?
Of course, everyone wanted to thank him and us, the family, because they knew all the sacrifice we have gone through to make it to that stage! When they told Colson that he would go down to the stadium to get interviewed with the All-Stars, it really started to sink in.
We went down there not knowing where he would be and I just so happened to see him at the end of the interview row. Camera personnel everywhere, All-Stars everywhere, and there was our small town kid from Holland, Indiana sitting with them and his name behind him. I can’t tell you how surprised we were so I asked the security guy, how do I get down there to see him – he’s my son and got drafted last night. He was like, “What’s his name?” I told him and he said, ” I remember him. He had the bow tie on and went to the White Sox.” I never felt more proud.
He said, go around the building and you should be able to see him and yep, he was right there! It was pretty cool seeing the White Sox All-Stars coming up to him to talk and congratulate him. Plus, they had Indiana ties which was an awesome thing too.
But now, we’re home and the community has been so excited about him. Someone even had made a sign in our yard that said “Welcome to White Sox Country. Congratulations Colson! Now the local media is wanting their interviews with him. It’s been a dream come true!
On behalf of the entire Sox On 35th crew, I would not only like to thank T.J. for taking the time to provide some awesome insight, but also congratulate him and the entire Montgomery family! We couldn’t be happier for them, and more excited to have Colson join the White Sox family.
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Featured Photo: White Sox/Twitter