Montgomery Wraps Up Breakout Year

TAMPA, FL – Starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery has finished up a successful first full season for the Yankees organization by posting a combined 2.95 ERA this year between starts for Charleston and the Tampa Yankees. In doing so the big southpaw is getting some attention as a player to keep track of going into next season.

Drafted out of the University of South Carolina in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, Jordan Montgomery had the benefit of pitching in the toughest baseball conference in all of college, the SEC, which could make him a fast riser in the organization. At 6-foot-4 he’s a big towering pitcher with the experience, moxie, and pitches to excel as he moves up, especially if his 2015 performance is any sort of indication.

He was nothing short of brilliant earlier this season in the South Atlantic League, posting a 2.68 ERA for the Charleston RiverDogs and striking out 55 batters in just 43.2 innings.

Coming up from Charleston his best pitch that worked for him early on was his changeup but as the season went on, especially in high-A Tampa, his curveball became his-go to pitch.

“My curveball got a lot better this year," Montgomery said. "The changeup has always been there but I lost it for a good amount of starts in a row so I kind of leaned on my curveball more, fixed that, and got it a little sharper.”

Consistency overall was big for him according to Tampa pitching coach Tommy Phelps. He has watched him progress and get better as the season went on, watching as all three of his pitches become more consistent, and allowing him to attack hitters in different ways.

“He got better as the season progressed. His curveball got really good," Phelps noted. "It started to become his go-to pitch, which use to be the changeup, and he was able to start throwing it for strikes which helped him put some hitters away when he really needed to get outs.

"His fastball command got way better [too]. He just got more consistent.”

With 134.1 innings this season, there will be no extra ball playing this offseason for him either. He will be going back home to South Carolina instead of the Arizona Fall league or winter ball, where he will work on trying to improve even more for his second full season in 2016.

“I want to get a lot stronger this offseason, put on some weight in my legs and come back bigger next season. I’m also going to be taking some college classes," Montgomery said of his offseason plans.

Getting stronger in his legs and using his legs more in general are keys for him to improve his delivery for next season, which not only will make him a better player but also reduce the risk of him getting an arm injury. After being healthy all season and throwing a career-high in innings, they want to make sure he doesn’t feel the dreaded dead arm next season.

“The delivery stuff he’s been working on lately is using his legs more and keeping his upper body back just a little bit longer so he’s able to stay behind his pitches and drive them there, as opposed of getting too forward too early and then coming off using mostly all arm," Phelps said.

"So that’s something he’s going to work on in the offseason. 150 innings was our target for him so that next year we’ll be able to bump him up to 180 or 190, somewhere in that range.”

Manager Dave Bialas has been more than impressed with Montgomery too, citing how well he’s been able to make in-game adjustments and the only thing he needs to see from Montgomery is just a little more consistency in his all-around game.

“When he’s off he’s been able to make some adjustments. He’s struggled a bit with first innings but he was able to adjust to that and really started to pitch well," Bialas said, noting that nearly 40 percent of Montgomery's earned runs this season in Tampa were served up in the first inning of his starts.

"I’d like to see [more] consistency in the strike zone, keeping the ball down, and working both sides of the plate. That’s what he really needs to do to move up."

While the smart money says Montgomery should find his way to Double-A next season, where he begins next season is a discussion for another day. What we do know now with the 2015 regular minor league season now over is that he’s become a guy that has solidified himself as one of the better pitching prospects for the Yankees after his breakout season this year.

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