Former South Carolina baseball standout Grayson Greiner was instrumental in bringing several former teammates to Blythewood on Saturday for the second annual Grand Slam Baseball Camp for local players aged 8-15.
The impressive array of talent included Jordan Montgomery, Tyler Webb, Tanner English, Joey Pankake, Joel Seddon and Jack Wynkoop.
The entire group has achieved success on the professional level, but Montgomery might stand out over the rest. The former Sumter High product made his major league debut this season with the New York Yankees and appeared in 29 games with a 9-7 record and 3.88 ERA.
His success as a left-hander in Yankee Stadium should make him a huge factor for New York’s 2018 plans.
“I’m trying to get more aggressive with my fastball,” Montgomery said. “As a rookie, I was a little timid to throw it. I’m been watching major league hitters for so long, I gave them too much credit. I’m going to try and be in more of an attack mode this year.”
Greiner, for one, isn’t surprised at Montgomery’s success. The duo played together at South Carolina for three years, and with Greiner catching most the of innings Montgomery pitched, he’s seen the left-hander’s stuff as much as anyone.
“The angle of his fastball. He’s so tall and so over the top, it’s a tough pitch to hit as a hitter because most of the time if you hit it, it’s going straight into the ground because it’s from such a steep angle,” Greiner said. “He’s honed his off-speed pitches so well that he can throw them in any count. His sharpness of his breaking ball has increased a little bit. It’s no surprise he was so successful this year.”
Montgomery made a quick transition through the minor leagues after being drafted by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2014 Major League Baseball draft.
The lanky left-hander finished that year in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League. In 2015, he started out with the Charleston RiverDogs of the South Atlantic League in low Class A and was promoted to High Class A later in the season.
Montgomery had a breakthrough season in 2016. He started in Double A before being promoted to Triple A in August. Montgomery was the winning pitcher when Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the winner of the International League, won the Triple A National Championship game with a 3-1 win against El Paso of the Pacific Coast League.
After competing for a spot in the Yankees’ starting rotation in spring training last year, he started the season in Triple A. He made his major league debut on April 12 against Tampa. After earning a no-decision in that contest, Montgomery earned his first major league win against the Chicago White Sox in his second start.
But that first start in Yankee Stadium is something Montgomery will always remember.
“Before my first start, I just got on the mound early, so I could take it all in,” Montgomery said. “I just stood there and looked at the stands, imagining people in them. It was something I worked for my whole life, so it was exciting to be there.”