Things got difficult for Kansas City Royals prospect Mike Montgomery
, and that's a good thing as far as the left-hander is concerned.
Montgomery is back with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals after his second stint with Triple-A Omaha. While he came into this season with a shot to make the big league club out of Spring Training, he sees his return to Double-A more as an opportunity than a disappointment.
"It made me reevaluate everything and see myself as not someone who's just always had success and hey, 'I'll go out there and pitch and pitch well,'" Montgomery said. "I've got to come and I've got to work on something every day. I feel like now I'm seeing a lot of things different ways."
A supplemental first-round pick out of Newhall (Calif.) High School in 2008, Montgomery quickly climbed the Royals ladder and made his Double-A debut in 2010, going 5-4 with a 3.47 ERA in a 13-game stint.
He went 5-11 with a 5.32 ERA in Triple-A in 2011 and was 3-6 with a 5.69 ERA in 17 games for Omaha this year. Since returning to Northwest Arkansas, he is 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA.
The recent experience has forced Montgomery to think more about his mechanics than he ever has.
"I use a lot of arm, I recoil and fall off, and I'm just trying to get smoother and be more consistent," he said. "And then really a clear mind-set, attack hitters and use good mechanics -- I think that's going to help me be consistent, and that's really the goal."
At his size -- 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds -- Montgomery said he was able to rely on his physical size early in his pro career.
"I feel like height has an advantage, but sometimes it's a little bit easier to get out of your mechanics," he said. "You've got a lot more moving parts. I try to use my height, but sometimes I overdo it and lose my mechanics and I don't get through the ball. I'm recoiling and falling off to one side."
Montgomery committed to Cal State Fullerton before his senior year of high school, but as his physique filled out he drew the interest of pro scouts and, ultimately, the Royals.
"I definitely feel like, developmental-wise, the Minor Leagues is really the place you want to be if you want to play baseball," Montgomery said. "For me it was the best option. Other guys have different routes. That's what's great about this game -- guys can come from anywhere."
Thanks to signing out of high school, the 23-year-old doesn't feel a sense of urgency at this point in his career -- though it was a little frustrating to get so close to the big leagues at Omaha and not make the jump.
"You can get caught up in, 'I'm really close to the big leagues,'" Montgomery said. "I felt like that a little bit in Triple-A, but now it's kind of just, 'Well, I'm out here and I want to get better.'"
Noisy ninth: You have to go back a few years in Texas League history to find a ninth inning as big as the one Corpus Christi posted against Midland on Saturday. The Hooks scored 11 runs in the final frame to post a 17-6 victory, marking the first time a team has scored 11 times in the ninth since Forth Worth beat Beaumont, 11-2, in 1937. The ninth-inning record is 12 runs scored by Denison in 1896.
Barret's back: Despite failing to post a victory in more than a month, Frisco right-hander Barret Loux became the first Texas League pitcher to notch 13 victories after beating San Antonio, 6-1, on Saturday. Loux gave up a run on seven hits over six innings to pick up his first win since July 3.
Grand exit: Tulsa's Corey Dickerson delivered two home runs against Springfield on Saturday, including a grand slam in the 12th inning to lift the Drillers to a 7-3 victory.