San Benito’s Montemayor a standout on defense

San Benito High School catcher Tristan Montemayor stands in front of the third base dugout on Thursday at San Benito High School. Montemayor is the 2019 Valley Morning Star Defensive Player of the Year.

In a loaded District 32-6A and a region filled with skilled catchers, San Benito senior Tristan Montemayor worked to ensure his play wouldn’t go unnoticed.

The Our Lady of the Lake University commit is the Valley Morning Star’s 2019 All-STAR Baseball Defensive Player of the Year.

“His strongest point is his work ethic,” San Benito coach Jimmy Young said. “He has an above average arm and he still has room for improvement, and I think he’ll elevate his game and perform a lot better (at the college level).”

He recorded nine outs and yielded just three passed balls all season, while also hitting .318. A three-year starter, Montemayor demonstrated continuous improvement in his pitch framing and infield leadership, and developed an instinctive ability to anticipate pitch location and situational pitch calls from the dugout.

“I really didn’t want to settle for being an average player,” Montemayor said. “I wanted to be a great one. So I’d always tell myself, if I did something great as a catcher or even if didn’t, I would want to make up for it offensively.”

As he sought to boost his strength and conditioning to meet the increasing demands of the game’s most difficult position, Montemayor also took it upon himself to sharpen his mental capacity. Young likened his catcher, as others have widely done, to the quarterback of the infield.

“When you’re a catcher, it’s like the whole team is your boat, and your teammates are the crewmen,” Montemayor. “And you’re the captain, and you have to assign people their jobs and tell them what to do. And when you notice something that other people don’t, you have to communicate that.”

Montemayor’s proficiency at blocking balls in the dirt became an art form for the Greyhounds’ backstop.

“If I give up that little inch or split second, we could lose the game,” Montemayor said. “I always put myself out there on the line for everybody.”

Young viewed his catcher’s blocking ability as an area of exponential growth from his first varsity season. He said he was grateful for Montemayor’s dedication to his craft and his imprint on the program.

“He’s definitely somebody you want to coach,” Young said. “You always wish you had a whole team of guys like that.”

Stefan Modrich Total Posts: 158 Stefan Modrich is a 2017 graduate of Arizona State University, where he was the Sports Editor for The State Press, ASU's independent student news publication. He is also a graduate of the University of Zagreb in Croatia, where he completed a foreign language program in 2018. A native of Franklin Park, Illinois, Modrich previously covered high school sports for The Arizona Republic, Chicago Tribune, and Mars Reel Media.