Name: Mark Montgomery
DOB: August 30, 1990
Repertoire. Fastball, Slider, Changeup.
Fastball. Montgomery has really run the whole gamut on the radar gun as a pro, averaging an above average 92-94 mph during his dominant professional debut season in 2011 and seeing it dip down to averaging more 88-89 mph for the better part of two seasons after before getting it back up to the 92-94 mph range once again late this year. Whatever the radar gun has read, however, the fact is his fastball has always shown a lot of late life and deception, and it's a big reason why he was able to keep posting solid results on the mound despite the slipping velocities. While the deception allows his fastball to play one level higher than the velocity readings his rather average command does make throwing harder a bit more of necessity at times.
Other Pitches. What has also allowed Montgomery to post better than average results even with the mostly average fastball velocity is possessing one of the best sliders in all of baseball. A true plus-plus big league pitch, he can use it a multiple of ways. He can throw a harder sweeping slider out of the zone and get batters chasing wildly, he can throw a shorter one for called strikes in the zone, and he can even bottom it out like a plus changeup with a ton of fade. The fact is neither he nor the batters exactly know what the slider is going to do at times and barreling it up is an exercise in futility. Because he can bottom the slider out seemingly at will too he doesn't throw a changeup all that much even though he has a quality one; he just has too much confidence in the slider to get the big outs.
Pitching. Montgomery's plan on the mound isn't exactly difficult to figure out -- he's all about getting to his devastating slider early and often, and he attacks batters right from the jump because he has so much confidence in that pitch. He seldom ever gets beat on his slider, if ever. Where he hasn't been exactly overpowering in recent years has been with his fastball. In true 'use it or lose it' fashion he has often times shied away from throwing too many fastballs simply because the above power wasn't there and that hasn't really helped get his velocity back up where he wants it. He went back to throwing more fastballs in 2015 and the velocity, not surprisingly, started to creep back up. He doesn't need the fastball to get batters out but he does need it to keep them honest.
Projection. Montgomery's prospect stock has taken a bit of a nosedive on the national scene and it was mostly due to his dipping radar gun readings. While it's true he can be so much more dominating when the gun readings start with a 9 instead of an 8, the fact is he can still be very effective no matter how hard the fastball is coming in simply because of the deception he generates and the one-of-a-kind wicked slider he's armed with. Even at his lowest point he still projected to be a very effective big league middle reliever at minimum and that floor still remains to this day, but if the above average power that has shown up in spurts over the past few years remains a constant then the ceiling could be so much higher, perhaps as high as a setup man or closer. Think former Yankee hurler Tyler Clippard for a good comparison; role-wise Montgomery could help in a variety of ways too but instead of a changeup being the difference-making pitch it's his slider.
ETA. 2016. Whether fair or not, Montgomery's big league chances with the Yankees really hinge on how hard he's throwing at the time. Yes he has the stuff to be effective no matter how hard the fastball is but with the Yankees possessing so many hard-throwing bullpen options it may take a ton of things to go his way to get his chances if he's not routinely breaking 90 mph on the gun. He really has nothing to prove at the minor league level other than the power is completely back with his fastball.