Scouting Yankees Prospect #1: Jesus Montero

The Yankees signed top International signee Jesus Montero out of Venezuela on July 2nd of 2006. There have been two constants since that time - his batting potential is unquestionable and the debate as to whether or not he can remain a catcher continues to rage on.

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

He was hitting a combined .337 with 25 doubles and 17 home runs between high-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in just 337 at-bats last year until a broken middle finger on his left hand put him on the shelf for the remainder of the 2009 season.

"This [past] year was really good," Montero said. "For me, thank God, everything was good. I did everything I wanted to do offensively. On defense it went well too, I'm really happy.

"I worked really hard this year to be a catcher. I want to show people that I want to catch in the big leagues and I want to catch in the big leagues for this team."

Now a career .325 hitter with 65 doubles and 37 home runs in less than 1,000 at-bats, all before his 20th birthday, his bat is no longer a question mark even though some critics threw out the bust tag very early in his career.

"People were saying [bad] things about me but I've just been working hard and thank God everything has been going really well," he said calmly.

Lost on the pundits, however, is that as focused on his offensive game as he has been, he has been as equally committed on the defensive side of the ball.

"I think I just need to be more mature about the game," Montero said. "I've tried to play more and more, and learn how to play baseball more.

"Next year is going to be good for me because maybe I'll have a chance to get to the big leagues. I just want to play every single day, learn about the game, and next year I hope I make a big step to the big leagues."

His burning desire to reach the big leagues is only surpassed by his aspiration of doing it behind the plate, a strong sentiment not lost on his organization.

"We're certainly excited about the bat," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told PinstripesPlus.com. "We think the fact that he has a chance now to remain behind that plate, that's a whole different animal there, a guy who can do that in the big leagues."

While scores of doubters continue to line up to give their reasons why he won't cut it at the catcher's position, team insiders insist he has what it takes to remain there.

"He can be a big league catcher," Yankees catching coordinator Julio Mosquera opined. "We've been doing some tweaking here and there with his footwork to make him quicker. He does have a great arm but sometimes he's a bit longer [on pop times].

"We've changed some stuff. To be honest, when he got up to Double-A he made great, great improvement in his receiving and game-calling. He started playing everyday and he's been building up.

"I think he can do it and he's working really hard at it. We can see something in the future there."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2009 Trenton .317 167 10 9 33 19 0 14 21 .370 .539
2009 Tampa .356 180 15 8 37 26 0 14 26 .406 .583
2008 Charleston .326 525 34 17 87 86 2 37 83 .376 .491
2007 GCL Yankees .280 107 6 3 19 13 0 12 18 .366 .421


Batting and Power. There isn't much he can't do with the bat. He not only has plus, plus power to all fields, he actually uses the entire field. He has elite bat speed that allows him catch up to any fastball, even on the inner-half of the plate, and the kind of patient approach to sit back and wait on offspeed offerings too. If there's a weakness in his offensive game it's his lower walk totals, but don't let that disguise the fact that he has excellent strike zone discipline. He is simply an impact hitter.

Base Running and Speed. Montero has no speed at all and has zero impact in the running game.

Defense. Montero isn't a great defensive catcher by any means and it's because his lack of foot speed and agility limits him when making throws to second base. His power arm helps offset that problem somewhat. But while he is lacking mobility behind the plate, he is actually pretty solid in the other areas. He blocks balls pretty well, not because he is quick but because he is big, and he is a solid receiver. He has also tirelessly worked to learn English and there isn't much of a language barrier anymore, so he works well with pitchers. His best asset is the big target he provides, a factor lost on his critics. He isn't a defensive standout, but he can handle the position.

Projection. Montero is a special hitter across the board, one who has perennial All Star offensive talent who could flourish in the heart of a big league lineup for years to come. While he won't win any defensive awards for his work behind the plate, the fact is he can do the job. And quite frankly, his lack of foot speed limits him other positional opportunities anyway so the only other choice is either first base or designated hitter. Because of that lack of speed and immense offensive potential, while being able to handle the other defensive duties of the catcher's position, he is pretty much a carbon copy of Mike Piazza skills-wise. Like Piazza, Montero's defense will continue to be criticized and will be quickly overlooked when he steps to the plate.

ETA. 2010. Montero's bat is big league ready right now and he could be up in the Bronx at anytime. He'll most likely begin the year in Triple-A Scranton, but it will be tough for the Yankees to keep his bat down much longer than this season.

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\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\nHe was hitting a combined .337 with 25 doubles and 17 home runs between high-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in just 337 at-bats last year until a broken middle finger on his left hand put him on the shelf for the remainder of the 2009 season.
\r\n
\r\n\"This [past] year was really good,\" Montero said. \"For me, thank God, everything was good. I did everything I wanted to do offensively. On defense it went well too, I'm really happy.
\r\n
\r\n\"I worked really hard this year to be a catcher. I want to show people that I want to catch in the big leagues and I want to catch in the big leagues for this team.\"
\r\n
\r\nNow a career .325 hitter with 65 doubles and 37 home runs in less than 1,000 at-bats, all before his 20th birthday, his bat is no longer a question mark even though some critics threw out the bust tag very early in his career.
\r\n
\r\n\"People were saying [bad] things about me but I've just been working hard and thank God everything has been going really well,\" he said calmly.
\r\n
\r\nLost on the pundits, however, is that as focused on his offensive game as he has been, he has been as equally committed on the defensive side of the ball.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think I just need to be more mature about the game,\" Montero said. \"I've tried to play more and more, and learn how to play baseball more.
\r\n
\r\n\"Next year is going to be good for me because maybe I'll have a chance to get to the big leagues. I just want to play every single day, learn about the game, and next year I hope I make a big step to the big leagues.\"
\r\n
\r\nHis burning desire to reach the big leagues is only surpassed by his aspiration of doing it behind the plate, a strong sentiment not lost on his organization.
\r\n
\r\n\"We're certainly excited about the bat,\" Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told PinstripesPlus.com. \"We think the fact that he has a chance now to remain behind that plate, that's a whole different animal there, a guy who can do that in the big leagues.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile scores of doubters continue to line up to give their reasons why he won't cut it at the catcher's position, team insiders insist he has what it takes to remain there.
\r\n
\r\n\"He can be a big league catcher,\" Yankees catching coordinator Julio Mosquera opined. \"We've been doing some tweaking here and there with his footwork to make him quicker. He does have a great arm but sometimes he's a bit longer [on pop times].
\r\n
\r\n\"We've changed some stuff. To be honest, when he got up to Double-A he made great, great improvement in his receiving and game-calling. He started playing everyday and he's been building up.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think he can do it and he's working really hard at it. We can see something in the future there.\"
\r\n
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\r\n

Year

\r\n

Team

\r\n

AVG

\r\n

AB

\r\n

2B

\r\n

HR

\r\n

RBI

\r\n

R

\r\n

SB

\r\n

BB

\r\n

SO

\r\n

OBP

\r\n

SLG

\r\n 2009\r\n Trenton\r\n .317\r\n 167\r\n 10\r\n 9\r\n 33\r\n 19\r\n 0\r\n 14\r\n 21\r\n .370\r\n .539
\r\n 2009\r\n Tampa\r\n .356\r\n 180\r\n 15\r\n 8\r\n 37\r\n 26\r\n 0\r\n 14\r\n 26\r\n .406\r\n .583
\r\n 2008\r\n Charleston\r\n .326\r\n 525\r\n 34\r\n 17\r\n 87\r\n 86\r\n 2\r\n 37\r\n 83\r\n .376\r\n .491
\r\n 2007\r\n GCL Yankees\r\n .280\r\n 107\r\n 6\r\n 3\r\n 19\r\n 13\r\n 0\r\n 12\r\n 18\r\n .366\r\n .421

\r\n
\r\nBatting and Power. There isn't much he can't do with the bat. He not only has plus, plus power to all fields, he actually uses the entire field. He has elite bat speed that allows him catch up to any fastball, even on the inner-half of the plate, and the kind of patient approach to sit back and wait on offspeed offerings too. If there's a weakness in his offensive game it's his lower walk totals, but don't let that disguise the fact that he has excellent strike zone discipline. He is simply an impact hitter.
\r\n
\r\nBase Running and Speed. Montero has no speed at all and has zero impact in the running game.
\r\n
\r\nDefense. Montero isn't a great defensive catcher by any means and it's because his lack of foot speed and agility limits him when making throws to second base. His power arm helps offset that problem somewhat. But while he is lacking mobility behind the plate, he is actually pretty solid in the other areas. He blocks balls pretty well, not because he is quick but because he is big, and he is a solid receiver. He has also tirelessly worked to learn English and there isn't much of a language barrier anymore, so he works well with pitchers. His best asset is the big target he provides, a factor lost on his critics. He isn't a defensive standout, but he can handle the position.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. Montero is a special hitter across the board, one who has perennial All Star offensive talent who could flourish in the heart of a big league lineup for years to come. While he won't win any defensive awards for his work behind the plate, the fact is he can do the job. And quite frankly, his lack of foot speed limits him other positional opportunities anyway so the only other choice is either first base or designated hitter. Because of that lack of speed and immense offensive potential, while being able to handle the other defensive duties of the catcher's position, he is pretty much a carbon copy of Mike Piazza skills-wise. Like Piazza, Montero's defense will continue to be criticized and will be quickly overlooked when he steps to the plate.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2010. Montero's bat is big league ready right now and he could be up in the Bronx at anytime. He'll most likely begin the year in Triple-A Scranton, but it will be tough for the Yankees to keep his bat down much longer than this season.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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