BA Checks In On Montero and DeLeon

Baseball America’s Ben Badler recently penned a brief writeup on some Yankees minor leaguers after watching a spring MiLB game. His words about Jesus Montero’s defense and Kelvin DeLeon’s plate discipline were far from encouraging:

Jesus Montero doesn’t have too many doubters about his abilities at the plate. On Friday Montero showed excellent bat speed that allows him to let balls travel deep into the hitting zone, power to all fields and a knack for putting the barrel to the ball.

While there aren’t too many 19-year-olds who can hit like Montero, the industry consensus is that the young Yankees’ prospect will likely have to move off of catcher down the road. Yesterday Montero showed all the reasons why scouts question Montero’s ability to stick at catcher. His arm strength is just OK, and he’s not especially good at throwing out base stealers.

More problematic was his receiving, as Montero committed three passed balls in one inning. Tall catchers—Montero is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds—can provide a big target, but they sometimes have trouble getting down low enough to block balls in the dirt, which Montero showed on Friday. He’s not particularly agile, which allowed a ball in the dirt just to his right to get by him. The third passed ball was an inside pitch to a righthanded batter that just bounced off his glove…..

It’s easy to see why De Leon commanded a $1.1 million signing bonus because his skill set is ideal for a workout. He takes a good BP, he crushes a fastball with plus power to all fields, his arm strength is plus and he’s a good athlete. De Leon also struck out in more than one quarter of his plate appearances last year in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League—74 strikeouts in 281 PAs—and he showed why on Friday by looking completely lost against breaking balls.

While I hate to read stuff like this, Badler is just echoing comments that have been made by a multitude of scouts. Montero is unlikely to stick at catcher, and DeLeon is primed to be Wily Mo Pena unless he can learn to deal with the breaking ball. The Yankees really need Kelvin to improve, as he would supplement the team in a department where they are really weak: power hitting outfielders. In regard to Montero, the ideal situation would be for him to improve as a catcher. However, it would not be the worst thing in the world if he ended up in LF or at 1B, as he has the bat to play anywhere. Furthermore, Austin Romine provides the Yankees with an alternative option for the catcher of the future.

0 thoughts on “BA Checks In On Montero and DeLeon

  1. Romine is the catcher of the future with Cervelli as his back-up. I don’t think there is much chance of Monti improving as much as he needs. We also have Higashioka in the system, (I’ll see him this summer) they say he is a natural.
    Good article again, Moshe…agree with most of your points, maybe all of them.

  2. The Scout

    The NY Times magazine yesterday contained an interesting piece on Dominican baseball that observed how little actual playing the prospects there do. They spend endless hours in drill. That makes evaluating them problematic. The skill set is there, but so much more than raw tools is required for success at the highest level. DeLeoon probably has not had all that much game experience, and I doubt he’s seen very many breaking pitches at this stage. The scout is correct — DeLeon will need to figure it out — give the kid time in real game situations. No need to rush to judgment so soon.

    • Moshe Mandel

      Definitely no rush. However, it is important to note that he lacks a skill that he is going to need to suceed. Not saying he cant learn it, just saying that it is something to keep an eye on.

  3. StandingO'Neill

    Isn’t DeLeon 18 years old? Sorry but I just can’t get worked up over his scouting reports yet. Besides he hasn’t even played in the GCL, I’m curious to see how he adjust once he receives some professional coaching. And if he sucks, well then he sucks, lol. He’ll just join the line of many many bonus babies who weren’t all tha great.

    I do agree however that Montero won’t stick at catcher. Still if his bat is as special as some say that shouldn’t be a huge problem.

    • KGsturnz0r217

      Yea, and Venezuelans play even less organized ball than Dominicanos. Keep that in mind when evaluating Jesus. I will reserve judgment when Jesus is at possible debut age, but i saw him a few times in Greenville, Rome, Charleston. I saw an above average arm, relatively slow release and many line drives. Hope DeLeon gets the Rdogs gig.

  4. leftylarry

    WITH a TALENT like Romine at catcher, the quicker Montero learns how to play the OF or first base the better off he’ll be.Elston Howard anyone?