It was a late-winter day in 2011 when nine players gathered on a warm Arizona morning for a photo shoot.
These nine players were among Baseball America’s top 100 prospect and all played in the Royals’ minor-league system. Using a scale of 100 points for the No. 1 prospect down to 1 point for No. 100, this Royals’ nine collected a record 574 points.
The group was the wave that was expected to turn around a franchise that had become the butt of a “Simpsons” joke. They delivered as the Royals played in two World Series and won the championship in 2015. Most of the nine either played in the postseason or were traded for others who did.
At No. 19 on that list was left-hander Mike Montgomery, who was still in the minors when he was shipped to Tampa Bay as part of a trade for James Shields and Wade Davis. Montgomery would end up being sent to Seattle, which later dealt him to the Cubs in July 2016.
On Monday night, Montgomery was traded back to the Royals for catcher Martin Maldonado. Montgomery, 30, called the trade “bittersweet” when talking with reporters.
“I’m excited for the new opportunity and obviously I wish things would have been a little bit different for me this year, but I kind look back and it’s definitely an emotional thing to think kind of (about) the last 3 1/2, 4 years here and obviously the World Series,” Montgomery told reporters. “I kind of grew up a lot here and definitely going to miss playing here in the city and with a lot of these guys. It’s going to take a little while to settle in.”
Montgomery, who is 1-2 with a 5.67 ERA in 20 relief appearances, has appeared in 167 career games, including 56 starts. The Royals said he will start Friday’s game in Cleveland.
Here are some clips of what Montgomery, who got the final out when the Cubs won the 2016 World Series, had to say on Monday: