Jul
29

From the Archives: Doubts about Montero

By

Jesus Montero has become a household name among Yankee fans who follow the minors. He’s 19 and utterly mashing at AA. On Sunday, he hit his fourth home run in his last nine games, and on the AA year, he is hitting .306/.363/.529.

The Trenton numbers, though, represent just half of Montero’s season. Looking at both his Tampa and Trenton numbers, the kid is an utter beast. He is hitting .332/.386/.558 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs. He is now one of the game’s best prospects — number three overall, according to a recent Baseball America update — and the Yanks’ clear number one prospect. He could be up in the Bronx by mid-2010 but will probably not arrive until 2011.

He wasn’t always this well-respected. A 2006 Baseball America column by John Manuel cast some doubt on Montero’s future. Wrote the prospect expert:

The Yankees reportedly gave another international player $2 million this year, but reports on Jesus Montero have not been good ever since the Yankees signed him for that amount in July. Montero has been dogged by rumors that he fudged his age or worse, and sources had indicated for weeks that his contract was under review by the commissioner’s office at the Yankees’ request.

Newman confirmed that the Yankees and Montero, a Venezuelan catcher with prodigious power potential, had “long, involved” negotiations. He would not comment on the value of Montero’s signing bonus, but said one source’s information–that Montero’s bonus had been restructured to $1.3 million–was not correct. His only on the record comment was that “there is no age issue” with Montero, who struggled in the Yankees’ fall mini-camp.

Those “not good” reports have since vanished into thin air. Everyone loves Jesus Montero, and he has emerged as one of the Yankees’ “untouchable” prospects. What the future holds for Montero no one really knows. It’s always amusing though to relive the past. Once upon a time, BA wasn’t sure about Jesus. Now, he’s one of the game’s most heralded young hitters. Funny how that works.

Categories : Minors

72 Comments»

  1. Jersey says:

    Nobody [bleeps] wit da Jesus

  2. Tony says:

    “Montero has been dogged by rumors that he fudged his age or worse”

    That’s an impressive “or worse.” So many possibilities!

  3. From the Archives: Doubts about Montero
    By Benjamin Kabak

    Looks like someone loaded up some posts in the hopper before he went to go see the Western Wall and the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs.

  4. Arman Tamzarian says:

    It seems like there has been less made about his defense as he has moved up. It may be that everyone with an opinion has weighed in already, and aren’t looking to beat a dead horse. With what’s been made of his defense you would assume it’s of Angelini like proportions with multiple passed balls, guys stealing left and right, a 5% caught stealing rate, etc.

  5. DreDog says:

    Why do you say these things about him when you know he will kill you for them.

  6. Baseball America = doubting Thomas.

    • Well, to be fair, I remember the signing-bonus stuff being really weird with Montero. There were all kinds of rumors flying around about the Yanks lowering the bonus because there was some sort of problem.

    • ChrisS says:

      In all honesty, if there was a report released tomorrow that Jesus was really 23, I wouldn’t be surprised. Kids that big with that talent at 17/18 are rare.

      He’d still be a heckuva prospect, though. Think about that.

  7. For all the dings the Yanks have taken from fans/media over their player development system (whether accurate or not), their development of international signees has been really strong and probably deserves more positive attention. In this area obviously they get dinged for the Igawa signing, but their MLB and MiLB rosters are littered with successful international signees.

    In fact… One could say they are utterly littered with successful international signees. (I’m sure it’s just me noticing something random, but it seems like that word is crazy-popular around here.)

  8. Reggie C. says:

    Just throwing this out there …. Jesus Montero for Matt Cain.

    • Hmm… interesting, but… no. For optimal roster construction issues going forward.

      That’s the closest I’ve gotten to saying yes yet, though.

      • Jacob says:

        It would only lead to optimal roster construction if Montero indeeds stays at catcher.

        • Jacob says:

          *indeed

        • No, it would lead to optimal roster construction because we have a much larger need for elite young bats than for elite young pitchers. We already have CC, AJ, Joba, and Hughes at minimum right now as rotational cornerstones for the foreseeable future. Cain would be a great addition but another pitcher is not a necessity, just a luxury.

          Having a bat to replace the production of Matsui/Damon/Posada/Jeter as they age and disappear is a much larger need going forward. Regardless of where that bat plays (be it C, DH, or LF).

      • Reggie C. says:

        Jacob’s right.

        Assuming Montero could play a Piazza-esque catcher behind the plate, then a 1-1, Montero-Cain trade kinda..sorta screws us in the long run given the fact that Joba and Hughes MIGHT be as good as Cain.

        So you’re saying: Potential .900 OPS catchers > 1.25 WHIP starters.

        • No, I’m saying:

          Potential .900 OPS catchers > 1.25 WHIP starters

          but

          1.25 WHIP starters > Potential .900 OPS DH’s

          UNLESS you already have 2 1.25 WHIP starters, 2 potential 1.25 WHIP starters, and numerous other good starter prospects in the minors

          Montero’s bat, anywhere on the field >>> Adding Cain to a roster that already includes CC/AJ/Joba/Hughes

          • Reggie C. says:

            That’s the definitive argument against trading Montero. However, you said it yourself that AJ Burnett is unlikely to live up to his contract. We all know CC can opt out in 3 seasons. Hughes has demonstrated dominant stuff in the relief role, but I need to see that confidence translate as a starter. Joba’s gonna be at least a middle-of-th- order starter , even though I have dumped on him.

            Matt Cain would be optimal return , and since we could always trade/sign Outfielders.

      • “That’s the closest I’ve gotten to saying yes yet, though.”

        Agreed… And if you wouldn’t make this deal, you just wouldn’t deal the guy, right? Is there another player out there you deal Montero for, in a one-for-one deal? Actually, I think I might make the Cain deal.

        This question is torturing me, damn you Reggie C.

        • Jacob says:

          There are several that I would deal Montero for straight up. I understand the sentiment of not wanting to deal Montero right now because of the value of his bat. But at the same time there is something to be said for the fact that Montero’s value will probably never be as high as it is right now. If you can get a proven front line starter who is under twenty five for a double-a catcher who may not even stay there, regardless of his upside as a bat, I probably do it.

          • Ed says:

            But at the same time there is something to be said for the fact that Montero’s value will probably never be as high as it is right now.

            Why? You’re basically saying you expect him to regress from here.

            A AAA catcher who may not stay there with great upside with the bat would be worth more than a AA one.

            • Jacob says:

              I don’t expect him to regress at all. I’m just saying that for a minor league player that hasn’t proven to hit in the bigs, I don’t know how much higher his value will be in AAA as a 20 or 21 hitting like we expect him to than it is as a 19 year old carving up AA like he is.

              • Ed says:

                I think the difference is as a AAA player he could headline a deal, but while he’s still in AA (and not even there for that long yet), you’d still need Hughes or Joba as the headliner.

                • Jacob says:

                  I don’t think that’s the case if you can get Matt Cain for him straight up, which is where we began.

                • Ed says:

                  But no one is saying we actually could get Cain for Montero straight up. It’s just us talking about whether we’d do it or not if we could.

                  The Giants have Posey, so they wouldn’t do it. Even without Posey, I think it’d still have to be Monetero + 1 until he gets close to getting promoted to the majors.

    • jsbrendog says:

      only if they throw in mincecum and sandoval

      • jsbrendog says:

        lincecum obviously

      • Reggie C. says:

        Heh. Mike A. has said it before: Montero’s trade value will never be higher than it is now.

        I’m just trying to figure a way of bridging the current front-line (CC & AJ) to the future (Phil and Joba). I think Matt Cain could be that piece. Matt Cain could help secure the present and future awesomeness of the Yankee rotation.

        • Agreed. But we still need to field a lineup of good hitters as well.

          Montero is probably one of the best 10 pure hitting prospects of the past decade. I love Matt Cain, but not enough to give up that bat. If I had a few other elite bats and didn’t have Joba or Hughes, maybe. As our roster is currently constructed, no.

          • Reggie C. says:

            The Yanks could replenish the lineup with a series of trades or signs.
            1. Joe Mauer (via signing)
            2. Matt Holiday (via signing)
            3. Luke Scott?…

            There are any number of available corner OF bats , and its possible to DEVELOP Heathcott, kelvin deleon into major leaguers.

        • Ed says:

          Mike A. has said it before: Montero’s trade value will never be higher than it is now.

          That doesn’t sound like Mike to me… I’d expect him to downplay the trade value of guys below AAA (and to really downplay the value of guys below AA).

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      I say yes.

    • Tony says:

      Sabean would be murdered in the street if he traded his #2 starter (Who is a #1) for a 19 year old.

  9. Tank Foster says:

    You’re all going to roast me for it but Montero as LF is better than Montero as C. Yes, .900 OPS catchers are worth their weight in gold. Career homerun leader, Catchers, Piazza, 427. Next, Bench, 389.

    It’s a tough position.

    How about we teach the guy to play LF and have him hit 600 HR in the majors. I like that better.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Because Montero at C + lg avg LF >>>> Montero in LF + lg avg C

      • JMK says:

        Doesn’t his bat project to be a bit better than league average at even left field? I don’t disagree at all–his value increases ten-fold at Catcher. Just curious.

      • Tank Foster says:

        Because Montero at C + lg avg LF >>>> Montero in LF + lg avg C

        Ok. But not always. It depends on how much better the guy hits as a LF than he does as a C. There is also the career matter. If you get 10 very good hitting seasons out of a good hitting catcher, you are doing well.

        You can probably expect to get 15 good hitting seasons out of a good hitting outfielder.

        I suspect, over the course of a career, it’s much closer to being even-Steven.

        If Montero is not at the very least an average defensive catcher, I would argue it’s better to move him to LF. Catcher’s defense is very important. LF, not so much.

    • AndrewYF says:

      Clearly Posada should have been kept as a middle infielder. Imagine how much more awesome he would be!

    • Drew says:

      Interesting question: if we knew we could get the on field performance (and let’s set aside off field issues), who would you rather have: Manny Ramirez or Mike Piazza? Both great hitters (though Manny was much better), both bad defenders. LF defense is much less important, and while both were defensive liabilities, they still provided serious net value to the team.

      Hmmm…

      The problem is that while Montero is a great hitting prospect, we’re still not saying if we were to move him off of catcher that he projects as Manny Ramirez or Albert Pujols at the plate (i.e. a best of the decade level elite hitter). Sure, he COULD be that good (say a 1% chance which is a way better chance than most minor leaguers have). But we’re much more likely to see a hitting star on the order of Magglio Ordonez or Pat Burrell. These have been valuable hitters, but if they could have played marginal defense at catcher they go from being well thought of players/sometime all stars to HOF level performers.

  10. 27 this year says:

    well we can cross off Snell as a target, the Mariners just traded for him and Wilson.

    • Tony says:

      Bonuses:

      1. Jeff Clement is a bigger prospect than anyone here was willing to move for Snell

      2. I assume this means Washburn won’t be going anywhere. Sure doesn’t look like a seller to me.

      • JMK says:

        I can’t believe Pittsburgh received Clement. The Mariners are nuts!

        • AndrewYF says:

          Not that nuts. They just acquired Jack Wilson, a very valuable shortstop, and Ian Snell, a starter with upside.

          • JMK says:

            Wilson’s D is pretty good but nothing special. Snell’s upside? He’s had one pretty good year and otherwise, is a decent 5th starter.

            Clement’s defense is shaky and he’s had a knee injury so he will not likely be able to stick around at catcher. Good bat though.

            I guess when factoring in that the M’s now have a shortstop (Cedeno is awful) and a starting pitcher, in exchange for a guy that likely will be an average DH, you’re right Andrew, it’s not that crazy.

      • Klemy says:

        Perhaps getting a pitcher to replace a vacated spot in the rotation?

  11. Matt H. says:

    I hate hearing untouchable and prospects in the same sentence.

    • V says:

      Montero is as untouchable as a prospect can be. He’s a Joba in 2007 prospect. He’s a Phil Hughes in 2006 prospect.

      Players you trade him for:

      Lincecum, Pujols, Braun, Longoria, Felix Hernandez, etc.

      Not happening.

      Nope, he’s untouchable.

      • Bo says:

        Untouchable?

        If he was offered straught up for Halladay Montero would be packing his bags for Torontos Double A team.

        There is no untouchable prospect out there

  12. Klemy says:

    Obviously not likely, just saying.

  13. Bo says:

    It’s real easy with Montero.

    If they think he can catch full time they won’t trade him.

    If they think he is a DH-1b and not a catcher he should be traded while his value is highest which is now.

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