LAURINBURG – From the moment Laurinburg native Montrell Marshall took the field as child, Scotland County Parks and Recreation athletics superintendent Al Blades knew he was going to be a standout. Little did he know that the same boy he watched dominate youth baseball for six years would end up being drafted by a Major League Baseball team.
Marshall was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 12th Round (365th overall) of this year’s MLB First-Year Draft, held in June. Blades says he could not be happier for Marshall and his family.
“Montrell was always good at baseball and even basketball,” Blades said. “I knew when he was young he was going to be a special talent.”
Blades said Marshall played in the Scotland County recreation leagues from the time he was six years old until he turned 12. The 18-year-old Marshall, who now stands at 6 feet, 5 inches and weighs 215 pounds, currently lives in Snellville, Ga. following graduation from South Gwinnett High School.
He trains under his uncle James Phillips, the father of Brandon Phillips, the star second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds. Marshall is projected to play third base.
When Marshall was drafted, he was left with a tough decision – sign with the Cincinnati Reds, or accept a scholarship offer from Auburn University and play college baseball for a minimum of three years. His mother Latonia, who lives in Laurinburg along with his father James, said the family gave him room to make his own choice.
“Montrell was allowed to make his own decision,” Latonia said. “A part of me wanted him to choose college because I really valued the education. But in the end this is what he wanted to do.”
The road to being drafted did not come without hardships. Marshall suffered a severe injury before his senior season — a cracked vertebrae that forced him to miss the entire year. Subsequently, his draft stock fell with it. He has continued to work hard despite not being able to play with the team this past season because, as his mom knows, baseball can be a difficult sport to break in to.
“It takes hard work and there is so much competition in baseball,” Latonia said.
A major factor that went into Marshall’s decision was that he could not pass up joining the same organization that his first cousin, Reds’ star Brandon Phillips, is a part of.
“It was a shocker — we were just so happy and we believe in miracles,” Latonia said. “Brandon was also excited about Montrell being drafted, especially by the team he plays for.”
Montrell knows he must continue the rehabilitation process in order for him to see playing time with the Reds’ minor league teams. His mom is confident that the team made the right decision to draft him.
“In the end he was happy that he got drafted and given the opportunity,” Latonia said. “Montrell is going to show them he is worth the investment.”
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 14. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.