There is no doubt that Jesus Montero is ready for Double-A ball in the batter's box. He has gone 5 for 8 in his last two games with a home run in Saturday's game against the Stone Crabs to secure his eighth one this season.
He is aggressive at the plate and feels that he is ready to handle Double-A pitchers.
"It's the same thing you know," he said, "just a little more difficult as you go up. Everything's in your mind though. If you want to play hard, nothing's different."
Manager Luis Sojo also agrees that Montero has been hitting well enough for the next level, but admits that he won't know until he gets there whether he is properly prepared or not.
"We don't know until he gets there, but you continue to become a good hitter your whole life," Sojo said. "He's been playing for three years and every year he improves, so I don't see why he can't do that over there too. Time is going to tell."
But even in his own opinion, it is Montero's catching that needs improvement before moving up.
"I need to work on the inside pitch and need to work hard behind the plate and try to be focused the whole time," Montero said. "I'm working hard with my coaches and that's what they tell me — catch, catch, catch. That's what I try to do all the time."
Currently, Montero and Romine are splitting the catching time for the Tampa Yankees, both working with every pitcher on the staff.
"I've caught all the pitchers already," Montero said. "I feel good with all of them. Sometimes we have problems in the game, but anything can happen in the game. It's hard to be that good all the time.
"I feel like I need to work behind the plate, catching," said the nineteen-year-old Venezuela native. "I try to do the best I can. I need to work on some things — move my feet, get quicker—try to do little things to try to move me up real quick."
Sojo feels that with time behind the plate and more work in several specific areas of his defensive game, Montero will continue to move in the right direction.
"Well you know he's been working real hard about game situations, men on-base, breaking balls," Sojo said, "things like that. He's been great for the past three weeks to a month.
"Defensively is the only thing for him to work on to move up and he's working hard day in and day out. His release point has gotten a lot better and he's really blocking balls good. The whole package is really coming along and hopefully it's going to be okay."
Montero Nearly Ready For Promotion
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