Former LHS pitcher Bryce Montes de Oca drafted by Mets
photo by: Nick Krug
Bryce Montes de Oca let out a sigh of relief when he saw his name on the screen.
After waiting patiently all day, the former Lawrence High pitcher got the news he wanted. Montes de Oca, who just completed his junior season at the University of Missouri, discovered he had been drafted by the New York Mets in the ninth round during the 2018 MLB Draft Tuesday.
“It was a very relieving feeling,” Montes de Oca said. “I was just sitting there all day to see my name cross that board. It’s a very relieving feeling when you see it, and I’m just excited for the future.”
But it’s not the first time Montes de Oca has endured the stressful nature of the draft process.
In 2014, Montes de Oca was selected by the White Sox in the 14th round. Last year, Washington picked Montes de Oca in the 15th round. Neither situation was enough to sway him from college, however.
This time around, Montes de Oca plans to sign his professional contract within the next week. As of right now, Montes de Oca is not aware of what level he will start at.
“I was very confident I was going to sign,” Montes de Oca said. “I just felt as a person, and everything I have been through, this was the time I have felt most ready to go on. I’m ready to take the next step and play ball professionally.”
Yet it wasn’t always a guarantee that he would get this opportunity.
Montes de Oca struggled with injuries at the collegiate level, throwing just 8 1/3 innings through his first two years at Missouri. The right-hander then posted a 4-5 record with a 4.28 ERA in his sophomore campaign, earning the Sunday starter role.
As a junior, Montes de Oca posted a 6-4 record with a 3.13 ERA in a total of 54 2/3 innings of work. Montes de Oca, who is 6-foot-7, can touch triple digits with his fastball. He finished with 137 strikeouts in 124 frames with the Tigers, holding opposing hitters to a .183 batting average.
JJ Cooper, who is an executive editor for Baseball America, had high praise for Montes de Oca.
“I think Mets ninth rounder Bryce Montes de Oca will be better than 90 percent of the players taken in the sixth (through) eighth rounds,” Cooper posted on his Twitter account. “Put him in the pen, let him throw 100+ and enjoy the success. Yes, he has had a lengthy history of injuries, but very good when healthy.”
Montes de Oca was one of two Missouri players drafted on the second day, as Michael Plassmeyer was selected in the fourth round by the Mariners.
“It’s time to move on,” Montes de Oca said. “I’m very excited for my future and grateful for my past. I’m excited to be a Met.”