ASU Baseball: Chaz Montoya’s On-Field Swagger Fuels His Confidence

Sep 3, 2016; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils mascot Sparky performs during the first half against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2016; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils mascot Sparky performs during the first half against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

When ASU baseball freshman Chaz Montoya takes the mound, his six foot, generous 160 pound frame doesn’t exactly scream intimidation to the batters that stand just over 60 feet away from him.

The imitation that the 20-year-old Montoya sparks on the mound comes from his outgoing personality and swagger that he puts on display when he pitches.

His fun and energetic personality comes out in full effect, starting with the moment he comes out to pitch, when the song “Gasolina” plays through Phoenix Muni.

Other than it being an ode to Pedro from the movie “The Benchwarmers,” Montoya felt it accurately described his fastball.

“Coming into the fall I felt like I threw pretty hard, in warm-ups I normally just go out there and lob the ball, 71, 68 miles per hour,” Montoya said. “And then I’ll get on the mound, and the first one I’m like, ‘oh I’m going to throw this one hard,’ it comes out 90, and I’m like ‘oh yeah, that’s gas.’”

The lefty has a long sweeping motion with a whip at the end of his release, making his cut fastballs and breaking balls look like “gas.”

The song is just the start of his swagger shown on the mound in relief and starting appearances alike.

His fun personality comes out as he constantly moves on the mound, wearing his emotions after getting outs and escaping jams.

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“I grew up confident in my abilities,” Montoya said. “Knowing that I just have a mindset in my head that nobody can beat me and that when I’m on the mound I’m going to do everything I can to get you out.”

After he gets through a big inning, as he walks to the dugout, he can range his emotions.

One time, he may start yelling into his glove, trying to fire up his teammates and himself; and the next he’ll be silent, strutting back to the dugout like he’s been there a thousand times before.

“It’s all timing” Montoya said of when he comes in roaring or silent, “depending on the time, depending on the situation, depending on the mood that Skip’s (head coach Tracy Smith) in”

He’s like a kid out there, having fun by flashing a smile after strikeouts, or occasionally chirping at the opposing team, while still getting the job done.

“I’m gonna have a little presence to me to make it known that I’m there”, Montoya said.

He’s just a freshman, but he’s able to express his personality on the mound and with his teammates, because of the early relationship he built with them.

Montoya is a local product, hailing from Centennial High School in Peoria, and before choosing to come to ASU, he was able to get to know some of his future teammates.

“I’ve lived right around the corner and I knew a lot of guys already on the team, so when I got here it already felt a little close to home. They really just took me under their wing,” Montoya said. “I felt confident going out there since day one. I knew they had my back and I could pretty much just be myself and that’s why I had success.”

At Centennial, Montoya put up quite a resume, becoming the number one ranked left-handed pitcher in the state of Arizona.

As a starter, he put up a 2.30 ERA, but his senior season was cut down to only 3 starts after he tore his labrum, becoming the team’s designated hitter the rest of the year.

Unlike in high school, this season with ASU, Montoya has been used in just about every pitching situation.

He started this season coming out of the bullpen, from a reliever to a closer, working for as little as a few outs, to even a few innings, but after inconsistency from the starters, Montoya moved into the rotation.

“At the beginning, him (Tracy Smith) putting me into the closer role saying ‘we know you can get it done,’ he liked my confidence” Montoya said, “and I just got out their and pitch; whatever situation it is, I’m still going to do the same me.”

In his first start at USC, Montoya allowed no runs, on two hits, in 5 2/3 innings of work.

Not many can come into the starting rotation, as a freshman, and have a scoreless outing on the road, but Montoya has the confidence of a four-year starter, and the swagger outperforms his size and age.

He has slowed down since his first start, but still holds a 4-3 record, keeping up his bravado on the mound, and showing that he can replicate his first start for future seasons to come.

Next: ASU Baseball: Devils Beat Wildcats Behind 14 Runs, 17 Hits

“I’m getting a lot of innings, I’m maturing a lot, learning how college baseball works,” Montoya said on how his swagger will help him moving forward. “And I really do think it’s going to better me for the future.”