Scouting Yankees Prospect #4: Jesus Montero

The Yankees signed top international signee Jesus Montero out of Venezuela on July 2nd last season for $2 million. Possessing special raw power, Montero's bat already makes him one of the more intriguing catching prospects in the game and the Yankees believe he has the defensive abilities to be the complete package behind the plate. Here's a scouting report on Jesus Montero.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jesus Montero
Position: Catcher
DOB: November 28, 1989
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 225
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

"Montero is a catcher with a power arm and a power bat," Yankees Latin American Coordinator said upon signing the Venezuelan slugger. "I think he'll become a receiver. He's got the intelligence to learn the game better and he's got 'now' power. We believe he'll be behind the plate in the future."

"His flexibility needs some work," he continued, "but he has good enough hands to catch. He just needs to work on his lower half, on his footwork. A lot of teams were on him but we were very aggressive and we got incredible support from Brian Cashman."

Unable to play in an official game last season, the Yankees had Montero adjusting to pro ball in the Gulf Coast League by participating in workouts and in batting practice and he quickly impressed team officials.

"I'll tell you what, he hits it like a big leaguer right now in batting practice," Gulf Coast League Yankees Manager Matt Martin told us over the summer. "I've thrown BP to big leaguers and he's no different. When he's locked in, he compares to those guys and that's definitely a good thing. He's a man-child. But again, that's in batting practice only and that's maybe 15 percent of the game."

"He's big and he's so strong. He can hit it as far as anybody. What I liked about him though is he would help out anyway he could when he was there and he was supportive of the team even though he wasn't playing. It's tough to judge and make a quick decision off of just batting practice, but I definitely like what I saw."

Even with tremendous power, the Yankees sent him to the Dominican Instructional League to get more work in, both defensively and offensively as they began to de-construct his swing in an effort to quickly advance his approach at the plate.

"I feel very grateful for signing with the Yankees," Montero told us through the help of Livio Oleaga translating. "I tried real hard in the Dominican Republic [Instructs]. They sent me there to make progress."

"My batting is really good, and they're working with me hard on receiving the ball behind the plate, but I still think I have a lot to learn about batting at the professional level."

One of the flaws the Yankees quickly recognized in his swing was his propensity to pull his head up in his swing to see just how far he hit the ball.

"We're working with him on some of the techniques of hitting," Rios admitted. "The power is still there. He's got a good attitude about it. We're trying to put a lot on his plate right now to get him going. That's something we also have to be careful about how we do it."

"The whole package is still there. That's what we want to continue to do. It [catcher] is a difficult position to deal with, especially as a Latin catcher. He's trying to do a lot in a short period of time."

Still just 16-years old during the Dominican Instructional League, all Yankees officials realize his power is special and they are just taking the necessary steps in ensuring his success at the higher minor league levels and beyond by making changes now.

"Jesus Montero has a lot of power," said Yankees Dominican Hitting Coordinator Freddy Tiburcio, "very good power, but he needs to work on mechanics, a lot of work. He needs to stay with the ball longer and keep his balance. His head is moving too much right now."

"We want to get the guy to be a different hitter, a completely different hitter. Right now all we see is a good power hitter. He has to adjust his swing more up the middle and to the opposite field. He's not doing that right now but we're going to get him to that point."

While some of Montero's critics are quick to throw out the bust tag, mostly not cognizant of the changes being implemented to his swing, everybody in the Yankees' organization has little concern over his offensive potential.

"Montero can go 500-feet. I've never seen a guy with that kind of power," said Yankees Latin American Field Coordinator. "He's got to learn the use of power in the game. He needs to keep his head down and hit the ball to centerfield more because he opens too soon in the batter's box."

"He tries to see how far he hits it and he's not keeping his head down. Right now he can hit the ball from middle-in, but middle-out, he has no chance right now, but we'll get him there."

A big reason for the problem Montero has had adjusting to his new approach at the plate was he had never received professional coaching before, and after dominating the amateur ranks, it is literally the first time he has had to make adjustments of any kind.

"I'm trying real hard to keep my head down," said Montero. "It's not something I was ever told about or taught before, that I need to keep my head down. I'm trying really hard because I've noticed it's really important to my swing."

"To be honest, it's not easy at all. I've got a lot of competition with the Yankees but I'm trying to be the best with the best team."

A huge presence behind the plate, the Yankees have also been working with refining his defensive game, mostly on his footwork and receiving skills.

"Before I signed with the Yankees, they knew there were going to be some changes needed to my game to be the best defensive catcher possible," added Montero. "My bat is always going to be there, but with my catching I've been real satisfied with the progress I've made with the changes. I still have a lot of things to learn and some things I need to change physically, but I'm ready to do it. I will do it."

Realizing making adjustments are a necessary part of the developmental process, both Montero and the Yankees believe he will not only be a special offensive player, but a very good defensive catcher to boot.

Getting set to officially begin his Yankees career in 2007, the burning question remains, where will he start?

"Well we're hoping that he might," Rios said of Montero possibly starting his career in the South Atlantic League in 2007. "I just think that's a big push for a catcher, especially in that position with the language barrier."

"I think the tools are there, but we also want to give him some success in his first year. Those are the things we have to consider. I think he's going to play a long time. Yeah, you want to rush guys, but I think the rush has to be at the right time. Right now we're building a foundation and if we don't build it right with success, coaching, and time, it might crumble at the end."

"I think we're probably going to go that same route," Rios said of employing the same plan they had for Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano, both of whom started in the short-season leagues. "We don't have a great need for a catcher tomorrow or anything, just two or three years down the road."


Batting and Power. At 6-foot-4 and a rock-solid 225 pounds, Montero is an imposing figure at the plate. He has special power, grading out not only an 80 on the scout's 20-80 scale for future potential, but grading out as an 80 right now. While he and the Yankees are working more on commanding the outside part of the plate, learning to drive the ball more from center to right field, the fact is his opposite field power is already as impressive as it gets. It's true he has had struggles changing his mechanics at the plate so far, but Yankees officials believe he will be a high-average hitter once he learns to become comfortable with the changes.

Base Running and Speed. As expected from a big-time slugger, and not to mention from a catcher, Montero is not fast at all. While he shows some agility in his immediate area, he doesn't have 'catch-up' speed and his impact on the bases projects to be minimal. He is more of a station-to-station runner.

Defense. Montero's power is not just with his bat. He has a very strong arm behind the plate and he has already made incredible strides in improving his release times on throws to second base. Towards the end of the Dominican Instructional League, Montero had three straight sub-2.00 second throws to second base and he has shown a very accurate throwing arm. He is also very adept at blocking balls in the dirt and has shown nimble feet behind the plate for a big catcher. Montero's biggest weaknesses are in his framing of pitches and ability to work with his staff, both of which are expected of a young player who has yet to play in the United States.

Projection. Montero is a big player behind the plate but it's not like there isn't a precendent of big receivers. Mike Piazza (6-foot-3) and Joe Mauer (6-foot-4) are two examples of big-bodied catchers who have had great success at the position. Like Piazza, Montero's natural power is very special and he too has tremendous opposite field power. And like Piazza, Montero is a solid defensive catcher, but he possesses a better arm with a quicker release. However, it's highly unlikely that neither Mauer nor Piazza were Montero's size at 17-years old. If he doesn't continue to grow too much, Montero projects as a future big league clean-up hitter and catcher whose power compares favorably to some of the elite sluggers in the Major Leagues. The Yankees love his makeup and his willingness to do whatever it takes to be the best.

ETA. 2011. Offensively, Montero seems ready for the South Atlantic League, his bat is that special. However, with the language barrier still a problem and with the added demands of playing catcher, it would appear more likely that the Yankees are going to ease him into the professional game with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2007 before putting too much on his plate too soon. Even if he begins his career at the rookie level, it might not take Montero long to advance from there.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n \r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Jesus Montero
\r\nPosition: Catcher
\r\nDOB: November 28, 1989
\r\nHeight: 6'4\"
\r\nWeight: 225
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\n\"Montero is a catcher with a power arm and a power bat,\" Yankees Latin American Coordinator said upon signing the Venezuelan slugger. \"I think he'll become a receiver. He's got the intelligence to learn the game better and he's got 'now' power. We believe he'll be behind the plate in the future.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"His flexibility needs some work,\" he continued, \"but he has good enough hands to catch. He just needs to work on his lower half, on his footwork. A lot of teams were on him but we were very aggressive and we got incredible support from Brian Cashman.\"
\r\n
\r\nUnable to play in an official game last season, the Yankees had Montero adjusting to pro ball in the Gulf Coast League by participating in workouts and in batting practice and he quickly impressed team officials.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'll tell you what, he hits it like a big leaguer right now in batting practice,\" Gulf Coast League Yankees Manager Matt Martin told us over the summer. \"I've thrown BP to big leaguers and he's no different. When he's locked in, he compares to those guys and that's definitely a good thing. He's a man-child. But again, that's in batting practice only and that's maybe 15 percent of the game.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"He's big and he's so strong. He can hit it as far as anybody. What I liked about him though is he would help out anyway he could when he was there and he was supportive of the team even though he wasn't playing. It's tough to judge and make a quick decision off of just batting practice, but I definitely like what I saw.\"
\r\n
\r\nEven with tremendous power, the Yankees sent him to the Dominican Instructional League to get more work in, both defensively and offensively as they began to de-construct his swing in an effort to quickly advance his approach at the plate.
\r\n
\r\n\"I feel very grateful for signing with the Yankees,\" Montero told us through the help of Livio Oleaga translating. \"I tried real hard in the Dominican Republic [Instructs]. They sent me there to make progress.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"My batting is really good, and they're working with me hard on receiving the ball behind the plate, but I still think I have a lot to learn about batting at the professional level.\"
\r\n
\r\nOne of the flaws the Yankees quickly recognized in his swing was his propensity to pull his head up in his swing to see just how far he hit the ball.
\r\n
\r\n\"We're working with him on some of the techniques of hitting,\" Rios admitted. \"The power is still there. He's got a good attitude about it. We're trying to put a lot on his plate right now to get him going. That's something we also have to be careful about how we do it.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"The whole package is still there. That's what we want to continue to do. It [catcher] is a difficult position to deal with, especially as a Latin catcher. He's trying to do a lot in a short period of time.\"
\r\n
\r\nStill just 16-years old during the Dominican Instructional League, all Yankees officials realize his power is special and they are just taking the necessary steps in ensuring his success at the higher minor league levels and beyond by making changes now.
\r\n
\r\n\"Jesus Montero has a lot of power,\" said Yankees Dominican Hitting Coordinator Freddy Tiburcio, \"very good power, but he needs to work on mechanics, a lot of work. He needs to stay with the ball longer and keep his balance. His head is moving too much right now.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"We want to get the guy to be a different hitter, a completely different hitter. Right now all we see is a good power hitter. He has to adjust his swing more up the middle and to the opposite field. He's not doing that right now but we're going to get him to that point.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile some of Montero's critics are quick to throw out the bust tag, mostly not cognizant of the changes being implemented to his swing, everybody in the Yankees' organization has little concern over his offensive potential.
\r\n
\r\n\"Montero can go 500-feet. I've never seen a guy with that kind of power,\" said Yankees Latin American Field Coordinator. \"He's got to learn the use of power in the game. He needs to keep his head down and hit the ball to centerfield more because he opens too soon in the batter's box.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"He tries to see how far he hits it and he's not keeping his head down. Right now he can hit the ball from middle-in, but middle-out, he has no chance right now, but we'll get him there.\"
\r\n
\r\nA big reason for the problem Montero has had adjusting to his new approach at the plate was he had never received professional coaching before, and after dominating the amateur ranks, it is literally the first time he has had to make adjustments of any kind.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm trying real hard to keep my head down,\" said Montero. \"It's not something I was ever told about or taught before, that I need to keep my head down. I'm trying really hard because I've noticed it's really important to my swing.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"To be honest, it's not easy at all. I've got a lot of competition with the Yankees but I'm trying to be the best with the best team.\"
\r\n
\r\nA huge presence behind the plate, the Yankees have also been working with refining his defensive game, mostly on his footwork and receiving skills.
\r\n
\r\n\"Before I signed with the Yankees, they knew there were going to be some changes needed to my game to be the best defensive catcher possible,\" added Montero. \"My bat is always going to be there, but with my catching I've been real satisfied with the progress I've made with the changes. I still have a lot of things to learn and some things I need to change physically, but I'm ready to do it. I will do it.\"
\r\n
\r\nRealizing making adjustments are a necessary part of the developmental process, both Montero and the Yankees believe he will not only be a special offensive player, but a very good defensive catcher to boot.
\r\n
\r\nGetting set to officially begin his Yankees career in 2007, the burning question remains, where will he start?
\r\n
\r\n\"Well we're hoping that he might,\" Rios said of Montero possibly starting his career in the South Atlantic League in 2007. \"I just think that's a big push for a catcher, especially in that position with the language barrier.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I think the tools are there, but we also want to give him some success in his first year. Those are the things we have to consider. I think he's going to play a long time. Yeah, you want to rush guys, but I think the rush has to be at the right time. Right now we're building a foundation and if we don't build it right with success, coaching, and time, it might crumble at the end.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I think we're probably going to go that same route,\" Rios said of employing the same plan they had for Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano, both of whom started in the short-season leagues. \"We don't have a great need for a catcher tomorrow or anything, just two or three years down the road.\"
\r\n
\r\n
\r\nBatting and Power. At 6-foot-4 and a rock-solid 225 pounds, Montero is an imposing figure at the plate. He has special power, grading out not only an 80 on the scout's 20-80 scale for future potential, but grading out as an 80 right now. While he and the Yankees are working more on commanding the outside part of the plate, learning to drive the ball more from center to right field, the fact is his opposite field power is already as impressive as it gets. It's true he has had struggles changing his mechanics at the plate so far, but Yankees officials believe he will be a high-average hitter once he learns to become comfortable with the changes.
\r\n
\r\nBase Running and Speed. As expected from a big-time slugger, and not to mention from a catcher, Montero is not fast at all. While he shows some agility in his immediate area, he doesn't have 'catch-up' speed and his impact on the bases projects to be minimal. He is more of a station-to-station runner.
\r\n
\r\nDefense. Montero's power is not just with his bat. He has a very strong arm behind the plate and he has already made incredible strides in improving his release times on throws to second base. Towards the end of the Dominican Instructional League, Montero had three straight sub-2.00 second throws to second base and he has shown a very accurate throwing arm. He is also very adept at blocking balls in the dirt and has shown nimble feet behind the plate for a big catcher. Montero's biggest weaknesses are in his framing of pitches and ability to work with his staff, both of which are expected of a young player who has yet to play in the United States.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. Montero is a big player behind the plate but it's not like there isn't a precendent of big receivers. Mike Piazza (6-foot-3) and Joe Mauer (6-foot-4) are two examples of big-bodied catchers who have had great success at the position. Like Piazza, Montero's natural power is very special and he too has tremendous opposite field power. And like Piazza, Montero is a solid defensive catcher, but he possesses a better arm with a quicker release. However, it's highly unlikely that neither Mauer nor Piazza were Montero's size at 17-years old. If he doesn't continue to grow too much, Montero projects as a future big league clean-up hitter and catcher whose power compares favorably to some of the elite sluggers in the Major Leagues. The Yankees love his makeup and his willingness to do whatever it takes to be the best.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2011. Offensively, Montero seems ready for the South Atlantic League, his bat is that special. However, with the language barrier still a problem and with the added demands of playing catcher, it would appear more likely that the Yankees are going to ease him into the professional game with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2007 before putting too much on his plate too soon. Even if he begins his career at the rookie level, it might not take Montero long to advance from there.
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