Montes leads Pioneer League All-Stars

Rockies prospect named MVP; Chukars' Cloney top pitcher

Coco Montes hit .331 at the University of South Florida this year before being drafted by the Rockies. (Jared Ravich/MiLB.com)

By Chris Bumbaca / MiLB.com | September 2, 2018 3:02 PM

Less than four months ago, Coco Montes was a college infielder and First-Year Player Draft hopeful. Now he's the Pioneer League MVP. 

Montes captured the award Sunday and was named to the circuit's end-of-season All-Star team after a stellar inaugural professional campaign with Grand Junction. Idaho Falls left-hander J.C. Cloney earned Pitcher of the Year honors.

Shortly after the Rockies selected him in the 15th round of the Draft in June, Montes burst onto the scene, batting .476 through his first 20 games. He has a .339/.414/.521 slash line, eight homers and 42 RBIs. 

Video: Grand Junction's Montes collects his fifth hit

Along the way, the 21-year-old enjoyed several marquee performances to propel him toward the MVP award. Montes rapped out a pair of five-hit games, participated in the league's Home Run Derby and was named All-Star Game MVP after he clubbed two homers and drove in six runs to beat the Northwest League.

Montes leads his team in batting and ranks fifth in the league. He's fourth in total bases (134) and tied for fifth in on-base percentage.

While the University of South Florida product commanded respect in the batter's box, Cloney struck fear into hitters' hearts early this summer. He won all nine of his Pioneer League starts, pitching to a 1.93 ERA over 56 innings. That mark would easily top the circuit if Cloney logged enough innings to qualify. The 2017 ninth-round pick struck out 50 and posted a 1.05 WHIP before he was promoted to Class A Lexington on Aug. 9.

Cloney -- a University of Arizona product -- has found success at the higher level, going 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA in his first five South Atlantic League start. 

Missoula teammates Zack Shannon and Zachery Almond both entered Sunday batting .350 to solidify their All-Star status . They also form a 1-2 punch atop the home run leaderboard, with Shannon sitting at 14 long balls and Almond at 13. Idaho Falls third baseman Nathan Eaton, who leads the league in batting, also is an All-Star. 

The full list of Pioneer League end-of-season All-Stars is below:

2018 Pioneer League All-Star Team
Name Position Team MLB Org
Grant Lavigne First Base Grand Junction COL
Coco Montes * Second Base Grand Junction COL
Nathan Eaton  Third Base Idaho Falls KC
Ronny Brito Shortstop Ogden LAD
Mariel Bautista Outfield Billings CIN
Zachery Almond Catcher Missoula ARI
David Fry  Catcher Helena MIL
Zack Shannon DH Missoula ARI
J.C. Cloney † Pitcher Idaho Falls KC
Jared Solomon Pitcher Billings CIN
Jose Chacin Pitcher Ogden LAD
Luis Alecis Pitcher Billings CIN
Alexander Martinez Pitcher Grand Junction  COL 
Tim Esmay  Manager Great Falls Voyagers CWS
* Most Valuable Player      
† Pitcher of the Year      

Chris Bumbaca is a contributor for MiLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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