Jan
06

Prospect Profile: Jesus Montero

By

Jesus Montero

Jesus Montero | C

Background
Montero grew up in Guacara, Venezuela, not far from the capital of Caracas. He was signed by Carlos Rios, the Yankees’ director of Latin American scouting, on the first day of July 2nd international signing period in 2006 for $2M, however the deal was later negotiated down to $1.65M. Rumors popped up that Montero lied about his age, however those were eventually shot down and the reason for the bonus cutback has never been officially disclosed. For what it’s worth, Rios was fired two years later for his role in a bonus skimming scandal, in which he forced several players to kick back some bonus money.

Pro Career
A year after signing his first professional contract, Montero made his debut with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2007, hitting .280-.366-.421 with three homers and six doubles in 33 games, 23 as a catcher. He led the charge as the GCL Yanks took home the league championship by driving in six runs thanks to a 7-for-17 performance with three doubles and a homer in four playoff games. Playing at home in Venezuela after the season, Montero hit .358-.453-.630 with four doubles and six homers in 23 winter ball games.

Prior to the 2008 season, Baseball America ranked Montero the sixth best prospect in the organization. The Yankees challenged him by assigning him to a full season league as an 18-year-old, and Montero responded by leading the South Atlantic League with 171 hits and finishing in the top ten in runs scored (86), doubles (34), runs batted in (87), and total bases (258). His 17 homers were good for twelfth in the league, and he also appeared in the Futures Game. With fellow catching prospect Austin Romine also playing for the River Dogs, Montero spent just 71 of his 132 games played behind the dish. Following the season, Baseball America rated Montero as the club’s second best prospect.

Sent to High-A Tampa to begin the 2009 season, Montero lasted just 48 games there before being promoted to Double-A Trenton. In his short time with Tampa, he hit a whopping .356-.406-.583 with eight homers in 180 at-bats, catching 26 games in another platoon with Romine. As a teenager in the Double-A Eastern League, Montero hit .317-.370-.539 with nine homers 167 at-bats, catching 33 of 44 games. He was named to the Eastern League All Star Team and again participated in the Futures Game, though his season was cut short when he suffered a broken middle finger on his left (glove) hand in early August while catching. Overall, Montero hit .337-.389-.562 with 17 homers in 92 games in 2009.

After the season, Montero again played winter ball in his native Venezuela, though he struggled to shake off the rust and played in just nine regular season games. Every reputable scouting publication named Montero as the organization’s top prospect following the season, plus John Manuel of Baseball America called him the minor’s best hitter while Keith Law said he was in the top ten.

Scouting Report
The first thing everyone talks about with Montero is his bat, and rightfully so. He has an uncanny ability to get the fat part of the bat consistently on the ball, and he can go out and get pitches on the outer half just as well as he can turn on stuff inside. Montero’s power is truly top of the line, and while his swing isn’t textbook – he gets out on his front foot a little early – his ability to recognize pitches and raw strength still allow him to hit everything with authority, even breaking balls when he gets out in front. Montero’s bat is truly special; it’s not crazy to expect him to hit around .300 with 30 homers or so annually.

As good as his offense is, Montero’s defense is a major question mark. At 6′-4″ and 225 pounds and just 20-years-old, he’s already too big to catch, and he lacks the athleticism to make up for it. While he works hard at his craft and has improved his throws, he’s not long for the catching position. Given his general lack of athleticism, first base is next logical option. A corner outfield spot could also be a possibility, though he’s sure to be a liability out there. Given his bat, the team will find a way to get him in the lineup every day.

Here’s a clip of Montero taking batting practice, and another of him working behind the plate in Spring Training.

2010 Outlook
Farm director Mark Newman has already confirmed that Montero will start the 2010 season as the every day catcher for Triple-A Scranton. There’s a slim chance he hits his way into a spot with the big league club as an injury fill-in at some point, though that’s unlikely. A September call-up is far greater possibility.

My Take
Well, I’m always skeptical of prospects fresh off the international market, especially when they come with the purported hitting ability Montero possessed when he was signed. There’s just too much bad information out there on those players, but Montero is one of the rare players that has made good on those scouting reports. It’ll sound like hyperbole, but Montero is the organization’s best hitting prospect since Derek Jeter, and the best power hitting prospect since who knows when. The only problem is finding a spot to play him, but that’ll work itself out. It always does.

Photo Credit: Mike Ashmore

Categories : Prospect Profiles

150 Comments»

  1. This explains why nobody besides Andre Dawson got into the HoF:

    All the ballots had only two names on them: Dawson and Jesus Montero. He’s already in the Hall, they’re just delaying the announcement until after he officially retires.

  2. pat says:

    HOLY CRAP a Jesus Montero Shamrocked Trenton Thunder Jersey.

    That might be my Holy Grail.

  3. jsbrendog says:

    getting his autograph at the aa allstar game was the highlight of my season. now he has to be a hall of famer.

    i told him i’d remember that day when he was inducted lol

  4. danny says:

    all hail.

  5. Jon in Residential Port Orange says:

    In Tampa earlier this year, I pleaded with my girlfriend to get Montero to autograph a ball. Not only did he autograph it but he asked for her number. Score!

  6. Tampa Yankee says:

    This made my day Mike. Thank you!

    Say he does hit well enough to warrant a mid-season call up. Do you think it’s in his best interest to spend the whole year down at AAA working on his defense? I mean. he’s never had time as the everyday catcher so, besides working on his defense, this will also show how he handles a full season behind the dish as well.

    • RollingWave says:

      I guess that we’re running under the assumption of a Nick Johnson injury (which seems both most likely to happen and where Montero would make the most sense to call up) . I’d say yes. the chances of him sticking as a legitimate C seems meh, and if he’s the new Edgar Martinez you really don’t want to waste his bat for as long as the Mariners did.

  7. Steve H says:

    while his swing isn’t textbook – he gets out on his front foot a little early

    I’m guessing this is where some of the Frank Thomas comps come from, besides just production.

    • RollingWave says:

      Thomas showed massive patience in the minors, it was almost Nick Johnson level absurdity, and basically it took him less than 700 PA before he tore down the doors to the majors literally. of course, he was also older than Montero when he was drafted (and i expect Montero to be in the majors in less than 700 additional PA)

      At this point, Montero appears only above average patience wise, there’s a little Robinson Cano in him (swing at bad pitches but also hits bad pitches) though he’s also got a lot more power and isn’t quiet as indifferent to pitches as Robbie.

      His best case as a hitter would seems something like Miguel Cabrera. though it’s always hard to say, Miguel didn’t hit THAT much in the minors until his age 20 season and then he was up in the majors for good

  8. pat says:

    If he doesn’t stick at catcher I’d imagine RF or perma DH is his landing spot. He doesn’t have the mobility to man LF in YS and he has a cannon for an arm that would be well suited for RF.

  9. the artist formerly known as (sic) says:

    posting in epic thread

  10. Mike Pop says:

    Adam Foster gave him a Miguel Cabrera comp to me on Twitter when I asked. If that’s the case, I’d be happy ;)

  11. A.D. says:

    Best prospect profile ever?

  12. A.D. says:

    Wonder if they give him reps in LF, especially as “off days” from catching.

  13. AndrewYF says:

    How valuable would Miguel Cabrera be if he were just a DH?

  14. Who’s this guy? Jesus Montero? Never heard of him. He’s no Casey Kelly.

    /Gammons’d

  15. Ban Bud says:

    “nd the best power hitting prospect since who knows when”

    Since Dan Pasqua!

  16. AndrewYF says:

    What’s the chance Montero pulls a Lars Anderson and completely collapses at the plate? Are there fatal flaws in his swing that could be exposed?

  17. Rockdog says:

    I think this should be remain just under the RAB masthead until Jesus is in the Show.

  18. Steve says:

    “It’ll sound like hyperbole, but Montero is the organization’s best…power hitting prospect since who knows when.”

    Hensley Meulens? Let’s hope he pans out a little better than that. I’m excited about this kid.

  19. themgmt says:

    The coming of The Carpenter.

  20. johnny says:

    I wonder if he can be convinced to chanfe his last name to Fuckingchristinpinstripes

  21. themgmt says:

    Pretty disappointed to see the ‘non-catcher’ theme perpetuated on here though.

    He’s a catcher until he’s not.

    • Rod says:

      Seriously, if Mike Piazza and Jorge Posada can stick at catcher, this kid surely can at least until 1b is open again.

      • AndrewYF says:

        Jorge Posada is actually an athlete, who started at 2B.

        Jesus Montero, IIRC, was a DH/1Bman until the Yankees converted him to catcher.

        I agree with the Mike Piazza part, but as good a prospect as Montero is, comparing him to the best-hitting catcher of all time is more than a little unrealistic.

      • Jack says:

        Jorge Posada isn’t the best defensive catcher, but I don’t think it’s really fair to put him in the same sentence as piazza. He’s not that bad.

        • johnny says:

          I could be wrong, but I think the greater concern is what the catching position could do to a body that size, as opposed to how well montero can do the job. he’s a good 40 pounds heavier than a typical catcher(next time you go to the gym add 40 pounds to your squats then imagine doing that all year), and his bat may prove too valuable to shelve for weeks at a time when his knees start barking.

  22. JobaWockeeZ says:

    Jesus a September call up? I’ll be psyched if he is. Can’t wait for the stud.

    • pat says:

      If he stays healthy I would think September is the latest you’d see him.

      • Brooklyn Ed says:

        MO forbid if Posada goes down on injury, would be the first call up or Mike Rivera? Most likely Rivera, right?

        • pat says:

          I would think they go with the vet to sit on the bench while Cervelli starts. I think at this juncture it is much more important for him to log innings behind the plate to determine if he really can hack it there longterm than it is for the big league team to have another bat.

          • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

            Montero is moving up very quickly, no? As much as I’d like to see him as our opening day anything, I’d like to think the Yanks have so few injuries and such a large lead, that he finishes his AAA season with accolades then joins us for 10 games in September.

            Then proceeds to make the post-season roster going 13-18 with 6 HR and 20 RBI to nearly match the awe-inspiring 31 IBB…

  23. Peter says:

    For what it’s worth (found some stats, thought they’d be interesting to note):

    Montero— 979 career ABs, .325 avg/.379 OBP/.509 SLG/.888 OPS

    In high-A at 19, Montero hit .356 with a .583 OBP and a .989 OPS; Bonds at 20 in A ball hit .299 with a .547 SLG

    Hit 50 points high than Fiedler at same level even though Montero was a full year younger (AA)

    At age 20 and Level AA: Fielder averaged a home run every 21 ABs; Age 21 and Level AA: Manny averaged 1 HR for every 20 ABs; Age 19 and Level AA: Montero 1 HR for every 18.

    10 more career MiLB home runs for Montero in 3 seasons than Miguel Cabrera (4 seasons)

    In minor league career, has hit 40 points higher than Cabrera and has a 94 point higher OPS

    Alex Rodriquez career .327 MiLB hitter; Montero .325 avg

    A 22-year-old Wieters averaged a home run every 17 ABs in Eastern League; Montero averaged a home run every 18 ABs in same league and was 3 years younger.

    50+ point higher OPS than Mauer’s AA season vs. Montero’s AA season

    I’m not saying he’ll be better or equal to a Bonds, Mauer, or A-Rod. He probably won’t and he’ll certainly never provide the defense capabilities as Mauer or Alex. He could be a LF, DH, or stay at catcher. It probably depends on Mauer’s MN extension or potential free agency. If Mauer stays in MN, Montero’s defensive future will likely rely on the development of another top minor league catching prospect, Austin Romine.

  24. Nick says:

    I’ve heard of this guy before…..

  25. larryf says:

    He IS the next Pujols. Some bulk/some baldness…..we just can’t move Tex from 1B however….

  26. king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

    NICK SWISHER to left, Jesus to Right, Miranda bats for Granderson against lefties late in the game, and if he’s on base, Gardner runs for him and takes over in CF.

    Next.

  27. larryf says:

    Cervelli and Montero. We sure have a Caraca catchers :-)

  28. Hughesus Cristo says:

    The talk about his defensive future amuses me. How many people actually know what he’s like at C? We can’t get any kind of consensus on Jorge Posada, who has been the starting catcher for the New York Yankees for twelve years, but people watch a 40 second YouTube video and think they have a bead on Montero’s long term prospects at the position.

    You don’t have to be Yadier Molina to stick behind the plate.

  29. Beamish says:

    Montero will be 27 when Tex’s contract is up and 28 when Alex’s contract is up. The Yankees can “suffer” with him in a C/DH role before moving him to 1B permanently (which is as close to a “natural” position as he can have) – assuming they never “trade high” on him as a Catcher.

  30. nycornerstone says:

    put jesus in lf this year and pray <+

  31. pete says:

    I’m assuming that we’ll have a Messiah Watch on the sidebar this year? or is that not PC?

  32. Riddering says:

    This week’s prospect profile is secretly subtitled “Future MVP, seven time World Champion, and Hall of Famer”.

  33. Mike says:

    These guys are putting Montero at 2 and Romine at 3 for catchers under 26 in the AL East.

    Sounds good to me.

    http://camdendepot.blogspot.co.....art-1.html

  34. anon says:

    I am emotionally invested in this person.

  35. Stryker says:

    i have faith in the yankees getting him to be at least serviceable at catcher. you have 3 high profile catchers of both the past and present. i have every ounce of faith in girardi, pena, and posada being able to help him or at least show him what he has to do to get by at the major league level.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

      …if Romine is all we think he’ll be, all Montero has to do is be his backup!

      yikes!!!

  36. This PP kind of makes up for the shitty HOF day. Praise be to El Carpentiero.

  37. jsbrendog says:

    The Yankees are more likely to go out and get Joe Mauer then Albert Pujols, but a guy can dream…

    did you read til the end there? it is just the irresponsible rumor monering ramblings of some dude with a blog. it means absolutely nothing. jesus (kept it on topic)

  38. Bryan says:

    “At 6?-4? and 225 pounds and just 20-years-old, he’s already too big to catch” ? Interesting that Joe Mauer is 6′-5″ and 225 pounds yet he isn’t too big to catch ? Will be interesting to see where he lands up as all of the “blog experts” seems to think everywhere except catcher yet the NYY’s paid baseball experts see him as a catcher !

    • Mike Axisa says:

      There’s a big difference in athleticism between Montero and other big catchers like Mauer and Wieters. And there’s also this from Baseball America’s write up this year:

      The Yankees no longer talk about him as an everyday major league catcher.

      But go ahead and rant, God forbid we say something less than flattering about a Yankee.

    • NYY “paid baseball experts,” by which I assume you mean Mark Newman, given your previous comments, are also paid to say the right thing. If you’ve followed Chad Jennings for a while, you know that Newman often says one thing, and then the Yankees do another. He can’t go out and say that Montero won’t be a catcher. That’s not good business. I’m not saying he won’t, but don’t think that just because Newman says it, that it’s true.

    • Tom Zig says:

      I don’t care if he becomes a catcher or not. If he becomes a permanent DH that’s fine by me, that means he’ll be more likely to stay healthy.

  39. Salty Buggah says:

    I know I’m late to this thread but a I had to leave some type of comment in this holy thread.

    Hopefully, he gets his number retired by the Yanks, meaning everything will have gone right

  40. Rod says:

    Ok, how about A-Rod to RF, Teix to 3B and The Carpinter to 1B?

    • Rod says:

      Swish to DH/RP

    • JAG says:

      I think that actually makes our defense worse at all three of those positions (maybe A-Rod and Swish are a wash in RF, maybe A-Rod has better range). I’m not sure why exactly Tex moved to 1B from 3B (was it Blalock?), but the Yankees didn’t even seem to consider moving him to 3B for a month last year when A-Rod was down so that Tex, Nady, and Swish would all be in the lineup. Doesn’t really bode well for him playing 3B, and no way is Montero a superior 1B to Tex.

      I realize i probably just wasted 2 minutes of my life responding seriously to what’s probably a joke post. I do that sometimes.

      -JM

  41. steven says:

    Is it fair to say that Nick Johnson was actually a better hitting prospect than Derek Jeter, re: the last paragraph?

  42. RollingWave says:

    Well, adjust for era context there is a lot of similarity between him and Don Mattingly.

  43. [...] the original here: Prospect Profile: Jesus Montero | River Avenue Blues Tags: 2010-at-353-pm, january-6th, minors, montero, Pictures, prospect-profiles, season, sunny, [...]

  44. Chuck says:

    Montero proved he is an All Star guy this summer. The Thunder came to NH to play and he was on the field for an hour before the game signing autographs. My son and I got him to sign a ball and when I told him we have been waiting to meet him since he signed, he insisted we take a photo with him. He hit a couple homers on that stand right before he broke his finger. I think we will see him this year, no way Posada stays healthy all year. I hope they give him some time in RF, how bad could he be. I bet he would show a great arm.

  45. [...] do these moves leave the Yanks’ system? Surely you’ve heard of Jesus Montero, so I’m not going to waste any more of my limited words on him. Beyond Montero, the system [...]

  46. [...] do these moves leave the Yanks’ system? Surely you’ve heard of Jesus Montero, so I’m not going to waste any more of my limited words on him. Beyond Montero, the system [...]

  47. [...] everyday catcher while Montero is the designated hitter or a corner outfielder. Montero is said to be too big and not athletic enough to be a full-time catcher on the major league [...]

  48. [...] Prospect Profile: Jesus Montero Few Yankee prospects of the past 20 years have had the buzz about them that Montero does. [...]

  49. [...] Scouting Report projects him as having 80 power on a scale of 20 to 80. Even our own Mike Axisa has speculated that we shouldn’t be surprised to see him eventually hit .300 with 30 homers on a regular basis, [...]

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