Sterling Monfort knew that to build his reputation within baseball, he had to hit the road.
So, for eight years, that’s what he did. First, by traveling around the country for five years to assist each of the Rockies’ area scouts for a couple of weeks at a time. Then, by becoming an area scout and working for three years in California. The son of Rockies owner Dick Monfort made an impression as someone with a strong work ethic and an attention to detail.
Those eight years on the road led to Sterling, 31, being named one of Major League Baseball’s youngest pro scouting directors when he was promoted this past offseason. Monfort now manages the Rockies’ eight pro scouts, and reports directly to general manager Bill Schmidt, assistant general manager of scouting Danny Montgomery and assistant general manager Zack Rosenthal.
“It’s not like he was given this opportunity because of who he was (in relation to Dick) — it’s because he was the right person to get the opportunity, period,” Rosenthal said. “Like the old saying in baseball goes, ‘You can’t trick scouts.’ He did it the right way, in their eyes.
“He cut his teeth, he worked his butt off, he scouted across the country, he came early and he stayed late. Schmidt and our guys truly believe in him as an evaluator.”
A graduate of Eaton High School, where he won two Class 3A state titles, and Arizona State University, where he played club ball, Monfort worked on the Coors Field grounds crew while in college. He began his baseball career as a coaching intern with the rookie-league Grand Junction Rockies in 2013.
From there, he got into scouting. He stepped in as the team’s full-time area scout for northern California in 2019 when the Rockies were left scrambling to fill that opening shortly before the season. The same thing happened in 2020 in southern California, a post he held for two years before getting his last promotion, which also involves scouting the Rockies and the Padres organizations.
It’s been a fast rise for Monfort, who has a reserved, thoughtful demeanor. He leans on the expertise of the scouts around him, but as Montgomery explains, “when he talks, he talks with substance.”
“I was told a long time ago, ‘Two ears and one mouth,’ ” Monfort said. “So I’ve always been listening. I know that’s the best way for me to learn, is to listen. All scouts see the game differently, they have different processes and things they’re looking for. Those years I spent (in amateur scouting) were all about looking at what they do, using it, applying it, and putting it all together to form my own evaluations.”
Monfort acts as a conduit between the seasoned scouts he oversees and the Rockies’ front-office decision-makers. He advises on players in free agency, waiver claims and potential trades. His organizational and communication abilities make him apt for the role, Schmidt said.
“We’ve got quite a few (pro scouts) who have been in the industry for 30-plus years,” Schmidt explained. “What I needed somebody to do was help organize all the information that they provide. And Sterling knows how I think, what I want, how I want things. And he’s able to process the information and get it to me. That’s where Sterling fit.”
Sterling Monfort, the Colorado Rockies’ Director of Professional Scouting Operations stits in the stands for a portrait at Coors Field on Friday, May 13, 2022.
Critics outside the Rockies organization didn’t see that fit. Instead, they viewed Monfort’s promotion as nepotism, and the club once again being too insular in its focus. Schmidt dismissed that criticism, saying “Sterling’s earned it.” Monfort shrugged it off.
“The way I’ve always looked at is work hard, be respectful, earn people’s trust and be someone who goes after it every day,” Monfort said. “(Being the son of the owner) is something I have no way of dodging — my dad is who he is, and I’m proud of him — but being his son always motivated me to try to prove myself a little more and work a little harder with the opportunities I’m given.”
While Sterling was emerging as an important voice on the player development side, older brother Walker, 35, rose to become the team’s vice president of corporate partnerships. To that end the Rockies (who also feature Dick’s brother Charlie Monfort as an owner/general partner) remain a family business.
“(Sterling and I) both intend on being here for a long time,” Walker said.
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Dick Monfort believes his youngest son has proven his worth within the organization, much like Dick did as a rising executive in his father’s cattle company during the 1980s.
“When I was growing up in the beef business, I worked for my dad, and I’m sure I was viewed as the boss’ kid,” Dick Monfort recalled. “But you just get over that. You either get over that, or you go into some other field. The great thing for me as (his dad and his boss) is that Sterling has an incredible work ethic.
“I worked my (butt) off (to shed that label), and as new responsibility became available, I took it, just like Sterling has done…. I did it because it was our company, I wanted it to be successful, and I knew there were other companies that were better than us. All I did was focus on making our company better.”
Dick said Sterling “wants to be part of the solution to winning consistently here” for a franchise that has yet to win a division title through 29 full seasons.
Montgomery, who has been with the organization from the start, believes Sterling’s move to scouting California high schools and colleges in 2019 was an eye-opening moment for Colorado scouting veterans such as himself and Marc Gustafson, the club’s head amateur scout.
From Sterling’s assistance helping area scouts in the five years after interning in Grand Junction, the Rockies’ gray-beard scouts knew the owner’s son had solid baseball intuition. But Sterling’s hustle, scouting analysis and ability to quickly form relationships in California is what cemented their view that the youngest Monfort has the chops to handle this new job.
“We as an organization probably didn’t realize what we had with him (before 2019),” Montgomery said. “Once we got him out to California, we realized we had a jewel sitting right in that office who just needed to get out and spread his wings… He’s very thorough with his report writing, with the way he responds to people, with the sheer number of games (he attends).”
Sterling, like Schmidt, is a scout at heart. He knows he wants to work for the Rockies for life, but is not sure what path his career will take. Montgomery believes Sterling could end up in the general manager’s chair at some point, if that’s what he wants.
“He has a chance to do as much as he wants to do in this industry,” Montgomery said. “There’s something about his temperament, and the way he looks at the game and can communicate, that’s going to always take him to the next level. Wherever that is, is up to him.”