ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – On the second day of the 2018 MLB Draft, UCF pitchers Thad Ward and JJ Montgomery heard their names called by big-league clubs on Tuesday. Ward was the first Knight off the board in the fifth round to the Boston Red Sox with the 160th pick. Montgomery followed later in the seventh round and the 205th pick to the Baltimore Orioles.
The duo marked the 99th and 100th MLB Draft picks in UCF history. The Knights have had a player picked in 11 consecutive drafts.
It was the second straight year that the Black and Gold had a player drafted in the fifth round, as Ward became the 16th Knight selected in the top-five rounds. UCF has now seen 32 players picked in the top-10 rounds of the MLB Draft.
The AL East is a familiar place for former Knights. Ward is the sixth UCF player to go to Boston in the draft, and the first since Mitch Herold was picked in the 16th round in 2008. Montgomery marked the fourth time the Orioles selected a Knight. The last time the Black and Gold sent players to Baltimore was in 2002 when George Cox and Zach Sutton were tabbed in the 20th and 22nd rounds.
Ward made 22 appearances as a junior with five starts and a 5-4 record. After making all his starts at the beginning of the year, the junior became the Knights’ go-to arm out of the bullpen. Ward tossed a team-high 40 2/3 innings in relief with a 2.88 ERA and 52 strikeouts. He was named The American Pitcher of the Week after throwing four shutout innings with seven strikeouts at No. 19 Houston on May 5.
The righty earned First Team All-Conference honors in The American. The native of Fort Myers wrapped up his third year in Orlando with a career high in innings (63.1), strikeouts (84) and wins (5), as well as a career-low .203 opponent batting average.
Montgomery was a solid contributor Black and Gold during his lone year in Orlando. The Indianapolis, Ind., native struck out 74 hitters over 63 2/3 innings of work in 17 appearances, featuring eight starts, for a 6-4 record. Out of the bullpen, the junior was one of the top relievers for the Knights with a 1.16 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings.
The righty made his debut with a 12-out save against No. 15 Virginia with six strikeouts. Montgomery went 5 1/3 innings with eight punchouts and picked up the win as the Knights took down No. 1 Florida at John Euliano Park on March 6.
For UCF head coach Greg Lovelady, he now has guided 41 players to the MLB Draft during his career, including 16 in the top-10 rounds.
The 2018 MLB Draft continues on Wednesday with rounds 11-40, starting at noon.
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