Q&A with Luis Montanez

Outfielder and 2000 first-round pick Luis Montanez was one of three former Cubs prospects to sign with the Baltimore Orioles earlier this week (the others were Brandon Sing and Jon Leicester). While the players' reasons for signing with the Orioles vary, it is hard to ignore the John Stockstill factor in all this.

Stockstill was an influential component in the Cubs' scouting department when all three players were drafted and signed by the club. He left the organization to become the Orioles' Assistant General Manager and Director of Professional, Major League and International Scouting last year.

Montanez, a shortstop at the time of the 2000 draft, was the third overall pick from Miami, Fla. Leicester was also picked up in the 2000 draft as a right-handed pitcher in the 11th round from the University of Memphis. For his part, Sing was selected in the 1999 draft in the 20th round.

On Tuesday, InsideTheWarehouse.com (the Orioles' equivalent to Inside The Ivy) visited with Montanez for the 24-year-old's first interview since joining his new club following a seven-year run with the Cubs.

ITW: How many other clubs offered you a contract?

Luis Montanez: There was a lot of interest early on. The first day I became a free agent, a lot of teams called, but we were kind of picky with who we wanted to go with. Baltimore was one of the teams and they gave me a good deal.

ITW: What, in particular, was appealing about Baltimore?

Luis Montanez: The opportunity to go to big league camp. Also, the fact that their spring training in Ft. Lauderdale is right next to my hometown of Miami. So, it‘s just a short drive up and I‘m there with them.

ITW: Do you know anybody in the Baltimore system?

Luis Montanez: I think they signed two former Cubs; Brandon Sing and Jon Leicester. So there are guys coming over from the Cubs organization that I know.

ITW: [2005-6 Ottawa Lynx Manager] Dave Trembley was your manager in 2002...

Luis Montanez: Yeah! I was asking people about Trembley because he used to manage me back when I used to play shortstop. I haven't stayed in touch with him over the years, but I know he'll recognize me when he sees me. Maybe not in the outfield, though {laughs}.

ITW: Speaking of your defensive conversion, how do you like playing in the outfield?

Luis Montanez: Oh, I love it. It fits my personality. It's more laid back and relaxed and I have a good time out there. I think I‘ve adapted to it pretty well.

ITW: Well I know one thing the Orioles could use is a right-handed hitting outfielder. Do you feel you have an advantage hitting against left-handers?

Luis Montanez: Yeah, absolutely. And I did see on their 40-man roster where most of their outfielders are left-handed. And that ballpark is more built for right-handers, so it does make it more convenient for me.

ITW: This past season, you were off to a terrific start in AA but struggled when promoted to AAA. What do you attribute that to?

Luis Montanez: I was in a groove in AA and everything was going well. When I got promoted to AAA, I started off well but then I was platooning with another guy. That might be a normal thing in AAA, but it was the first time I was ever coming off the bench and I didn't get used to it as quick as I should have. Splitting time with another guy was tough. It was touch to not play a game and it was all a bit difficult for me.

ITW: Well what kind of adjustments do you feel you'll need to make in order to contribute to the Orioles next season?

Luis Montanez: More versatility in my game, you know, maybe steal some bases, maybe play some other positions. Maybe I need to play second base. I play all the outfield positions. And I need to be more consistent. If I play more consistent, like I did at the beginning of the year, they'll find a place for me to play.

ITW: Do you have any specific goals in mind for 2007?

Luis Montanez: I just want to make a good showing at Baltimore and show them they made a good investment. And I hope they consider me one of their next prospects.

ITW: Any final words for Orioles fans?

Luis Montanez: Yeah, I just want to be another former Cubs success story. I know it worked out for Corey Patterson and I just want to be the next one in line.

*Michael Hollman and John Kazlo contributed to this story.

Questions? Comments? Send them to Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com

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