Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Scouting Yankees prospect Jesus Montero

(photo courtesy of

Working with the Rochester Red Wings, I have the opportunity to see a lot of baseball's top prospects in person. Last year, it was Stephen Strasburg, Aroldis Chapman, Freddie Freeman and Yonder Alonso.

Strasburg and Freeman performed at a high level when I saw them play and reached the majors in 2010, although Freeman didn't get there until September. Chapman struggled with his control as a starter during his visit to Rochester, but he has been great throwing 100 mile-per-hour fastballs out of the Reds bullpen since getting the call last season.

Alonso also came to Rochester and raked at the plate but likely needs to be traded to see a starting job in the big leagues anytime soon, considering Joey Votto's presence in Cincinnati. The possibility of playing Alonso in the outfield remains, but the Reds are set there with Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs and Jonny Gomes as well. With Gomes' contract expiring after this season, Alonso could take over left field in 2012 if he's still a Red.

Like Alonso and Freeman before him, Jesus Montero comes highly regarded. As the fourth-rated prospect by ESPN's Keith Law, expectations are high for the 21-year-old prized catching prospect.

Montero projects as a player who will hit for both average and power and all of his hitting skills were on display in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's four-game series against the Red Wings. Rochester may not have a lights-out pitching staff but Montero looked awesome with three three-hit games and a two-hit game, going 11-for-21 in the series.

Montero had four extra-base hits (three doubles and a home run), drove in two runs and scored six in the series. He even hit the ball hard when he recorded outs and while he didn't draw a walk in the series, two out of every three balls he hit were frozen ropes. He has an effortless right-handed swing and produces a lot of power with his 6-3, 235-pound frame.

Montero was also solid behind the plate and is far from a liability at the catching position, with a good arm and decent quickness and reaction time blocking balls in the dirt. The obvious drawback to him catching in the big leagues would be the necessary time off required, taking his bat out of the lineup on days where he doesn't DH.

With Russell Martin enjoying a resurgence behind the plate and Jorge Posada entrenched as the Yankees' designated hitter for the rest of this season, there really isn't a spot for Montero in the majors. That's a shame because his bat is ready and he has nothing left to prove in Triple-A.

If an injury were to befall either player, the Yankees would not be in dire straits. As much as I like Francisco Cervelli, he's nothing more than an energetic backup on a championship-caliber team. Montero should be the starting catcher in New York if they lose Martin for an extended period of time and probably should move into the DH role if an injury hits the aging Posada, something freaky like running the bases or getting hit by a pitch.

The Yankees could use Andruw Jones in the DH role as well, at least against left-handers, who he's proven he can hit already this season. But Montero could platoon with Jones and get the majority of at-bats against righties if he produces right away.

At the tender age of 21, Montero and his bat are ready for the show. Whether he will hit right away like Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun did remains to be seen, but there is little left for him to accomplish at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. It will take an injury to a key Yankee for Montero's time to come in 2011 but if it does, New York has no reason to worry. The kid is for real.

No comments:

Post a Comment