Montero 5th on BA's Top Prospect List

From John Manuel:

Why he’s here: The minors’ best hitter, Montero gets compared to Mike Piazza as a catcher whose hitting tools far outstrip his defense. The Yankees don’t see him as Jorge Posada’s heir because his defense is on par with Piazza’s or worse.
What he’ll be: Because he’s likely to move out from behind the plate, Montero should be a first baseman or DH primarily. Other ex-catchers with premium bats such as Paul Konerko and Carlos Delgado leap to mind.
When he arrives: New York’s offseason moves will dictate whether Montero spends all season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or moves up to the big leagues as a part-time catcher and DH.

For more on Jesus, here is BP’s Kevin Goldstein:

The Good: Simply put, Montero is one of the best offensive prospects in the game, and possibly the best. He’s a massive slugger with the contact skills of a batting champion, with one scout classifying his ability to put the middle of the barrel on the ball “almost supernatural.” His raw power is at or near the top of the charts—and he’s just starting to tap into it. He has the potential for 30-40 home runs annually. He’s a hard worker who puts as much work into his defense as his hitting, and he’s made great strides behind the plate.
The Bad: Montero remains a well below-average catcher, despite his improvements. His big, thick build doesn’t provide much agility defensively, and he’s only expected to get bigger, which will almost assuredly mean a move to first base. His approach is good for his age, but it could use some improvements, as he swings at a lot of bad pitches, making up for it by often crushing them.

BP seems a bit more sanguine about the possibility of Montero sticking at catcher than BA does, which makes the #5 ranking an even greater statement about the quality of his bat. He ranks ahead of Buster Posey and Carlos Santana, both catchers with all-around games, as well as Justin Smoak and Pedro Alvarez, sluggers with greater certainty about their defensive future. Quite simply, Montero is probably the best hitter currently in the minor leagues, a pure hitter with strong power, good plate discipline, and a tireless work ethic. All of this adds up to the kind of big bat that the Yankees have not developed since….well….I really cannot think of anyone. Does Bernie Williams qualify? Regardless, I hope the Yankees hold onto him. With the offensive core of the club aging, Montero would be a perfect fit for the Yankees no matter where he ends up defensively.

0 thoughts on “Montero 5th on BA's Top Prospect List

  1. Montero, how I love thee.

    • EJ Fagan

      We’ve heard the big prospect pundits finally get on the Montero bandwagon in the last few months. My favorite was BA calling him an 80/80 hitter/power guy. Huge praise.

      I’m willing to bet that if Montero was already a 1st baseman instead of a questionable catcher that he would be #1 over Heyward and Stanton for hitters. Of course, I’d rather have the below-average catcher.

  2. 72TBraga

    Reading this post and several other articles all over the internet just raises a number of questions in my mind, about this guys future. Everybody seems to agree that he is just a (at best) average catcher, and that his future seems to be at 1st Base.
    It’s also sayed that Montero is already good enough to be the backup catcher, at least in the end of the season, making the 40 man Roster.
    The thing is, that IF (and that is a big if) he’s already good for the big leagues, or if he’s going to be good enough next year, I just don’t know where he’s gonna play!
    I must be honest: I’ve never seen the guy play. What I know about him, I have either read or seen in the internet or through videos. So maybe you guys could answer some of my questions.
    -Catcher: Montero’s not good enough to be an everyday catcher, so even with Posada turning in to a DH and, in the near future, retiering, we could be almost 100% sure that Montero is not gonna be the franchise catcher for the ’11 and ’12 seasons. Right?
    -1st Base: I don’t see him playing here either. With Teixeira going in to only the 2nd year of his long and rich contract, we shouldn’t expect Montero to bench him, and become the starter at 1st. Plus Tex’s fielding is great. Is Montero better than him fielding 1st? I doubt it.
    -Whats left for a 6’4 big Catcher besides C and 1st? LF?
    Does Montero have the speed and arm to play an OF position? Like I sayed… I’ve never seen him play. Could anyone answer this question?
    -IF: Does Montero have the ability to play an IF position, like 3B? That is: if A-Rod becomes a “DH-only” type?
    -DH: Like I sayed. A-Rod, Posada, even Granderson could be guys who are becoming our DH in the future. Are we going to let theese guys walk, or trade them, to make space at DH for a kid, just coming up from Scranton? I don’t see that happening.
    I hope you guy could answer some of the questions. Thanks in advance! Oh… and sorry if my comment is too long… =/

    • Moshe Mandel

      I think they try him at LF. If that doesn’t work, he can split time at DH, C, and 1B as Teixeira ages. He’s so young that he will still be just entering his prime when Teixeira’s contract finishes. If C and LF do not work out, he could be the backup catcher, backup 1Bman, and regular DH until Tex vacates first base.

      • Worse case scenario with Montero is having one of the best DH’s in the league, is that really that bad a fall back plan?

        He will work on staying at C if they give up on that he will move to LF and if they exhaust all possible options they will settle at DH once he is 28 or so but to give up on a position before then is kind of silly.

    • EJ Fagan

      My money is on catcher. Piazza was well-below average on defense too. He’s going to the Hall of Fame.

      • EJ Fagan

        It should be noted that Montero’s defensive ability behind the plate has dramatically improved for three straight years. I’m willing to bet that this time next year he wouldn’t be the worst defensive catcher in the majors.

        • If he can be as good as Posada is now he would be one of the most valuable catchers in the game

  3. 72TBraga

    And sorry for the spelling mistakes too! I’m posting this via my cellphone, with a extremely small keyboard, like only the guys at Motorola think us humans are able to use, so…

    But I hope I made myself understandable!

  4. Mo, the inconvenient truth about Jesus Montero is that unless he can stick at Catcher for at least a few years or do a decent job in LF, we’ll be better off dealing him for a big piece. His natural landing spot is 1B, and that aint happening.

    I’ll hold out hope that he can be stay at Catcher while he’s young (until his mid 20s) and then move to 1B when Tex’s contract expires. But there are all sorts of issues surrounding Catchers with his size and lack of flexibility.

    • Moshe Mandel

      I think the plan I outlined above makes sense- he can be the backup catcher (50 games), backup 1B (20), primary DH (80). You shouldnt trade “the best bat in the minors.” Hitting prospects have a much higher success rate, and I just cannot fathom a trade that the other club would agree to that makes sense.

      • Yeah, I just read it after my post went up. It makes some sense, but I just wonder when/if a big pitcher (re King Felix or Josh Johnson) becomes available if the pull will be too strong to build a deal around Jesus, since he effectively has nowhere to play on the Yanks and you have to create a role for him.

        • How is having one of the best DH’s around not a valuable role? It’s not as good as him playing catcher but does anyone complain that David Ortiz was a beast between 2003-2008 because he couldn’t play defense? They won 2 world series rings in a 5 year span and he had a huge hand in that.

          Would you not take a David Ortiz model in Jesus Montero?

  5. 72TBraga

    Steve S. (kinda…) sayed what I was trying not to:
    Maybe the Yankees should look into all the obstacles between Montero today and Montero as a big-leaguer and decide if it makes sense to hold on to him, or if we could involve him in a big trade.
    Imagine if he had been part of the deal for Halladay. Or for Cliff Lee. We could be looking into the best rotation for a Ballclub in, I don’t know, 10, 20, 30 years?! CC, AJ, Andy, Cliff Lee or Halladay and Joba/Hughes/Vazquez/whoever….

    Anyway… Now it’s too late.

    • So you are saying getting a 33 year old or 31 year old starting pitcher makes us the best rotation for 10-30 years? It would give us the best rotation for 3-5 years until they all got old at the same time and fell apart while being paid out the nose.

  6. Peter

    Just because he doesn’t fit into a specific Defensive position right now, doesn’t mean he should be traded!

    Who knows what can happen in a couple years time but he will, as Moshe said, have to learn how to play LF and 1B to transition his way into the majors. Give him another full year in AAA, then bring him up next year as DH and platoon player. A player like this will receive plenty of attention from Yankee coaching staff to help him become future 1B or LFielder. I can’t wait to watch him crush baseballs over monument park and the green monster.

    Trading Montero for a 33 year old Halladay or 32 year old Lee is utter nonsense.

  7. 72TBraga

    Replying “The Other Chris H.”
    (Sorry… For some reason I can’t use the link to reply, on this cellphone)

    Im not saying that if we got a 30-31 year old, we would have the best rotation for 30 years. What I sayied is: If we were able to land either Cliff Lee OR Roy Halladay, the Yankees would have the best rotation, not only in todays league, but in the last 10-30 years.

    About the idea of making him a DH:
    I sort of ruled that out because I can’t see the Yankees trading Jeter, A-Rod or Posada in the near future, HOWEVER they are all very close of becoming “DH-only” players, (age, injury, surgery, etc…) just like that big fella some like to call ‘Big Papi’ up in Boston. Or players that will have to spend more and more time starting as DH and not on the field. So saving the DH spot for a 28 year old sound like waste to me.
    But that’s just my oppinion.

    • Mark Da Rosa

      There is still time for this kid to develop into a catcher, as stated he has become better defensively at that position. What makes people think that he can’t improve even more to a point where he could be what Jorge Posada has been for the Yankees, an offensive minded catcher? His bat behind the plate is a lot more valuable than his bat in the outfield, at 1B or at DH. I think that the Yankee organization is making the right move and trying to stick Jesus Montero behind the plate until it is shown that he can’t play that position. This player is only 20 years old and has been excelling with the bat which has made him rise through the Yankee farm system. At his age he shouldn’t be in AAA but because he isn’t being challenged with the bat at the lower levels he is in Scranton. If he has another year to develop into a catcher, what makes everybody believe that he won’t become better at the position. This person happens to be a once in a lifetime prospect and moving him from the catcher position decreases his value.

      There is still time for him to improve behind the plate and currently there is no reason to move him from that position as he has shown improvements in his defense shown by his caught stealing rate. He needs to improve on his lower body movement and try to stop so many wild pitches and passed balls. He is not a finished product and there is still plenty of time before it can be decided whether or not he can play catcher. Catcher is the premium defensive position for a reason, it is difficult to learn. The corner outfield spots and first base are considered the worst defensive positions. Let those be a last resort not the first options for this player.

  8. jeremy

    why would you want him, if needed, to play left field??? way too big of an outfield for a guy that isnt all that speedy. right field seems to make more sense to me, again, if needed though. he’s a catcher now, so wouldnt his arm be better suited for right AND right field at yankee stadium is obviously significantly smaller than left field so he wouldnt have so much ground to cover. i still am optimistic he can find a way to be a decent enough defender behind the plate though. comments?

    • I think RF fits better than LF in Yankee stadium but we are 2 or 3 years away from even going there though as you stated he still has time to be a catcher.

  9. 72TBraga

    I do hope he becomes a great fielding catcher. Let’s remember that when Posada first came along he was known much more for his bat than for his glove, and even playing in the big leagues, he developed every year, to be the good catche he is today.
    However one has to hope for the best and plan for the worst, and it would make sense to me if he got some starts in the OF corners. ‘Jeremys’ point makes sense: RF at Yankee Stadium is much less ground that he would have to cover, if he did got moved to the OF.
    About trading him for Lee or Halladay… this ship has sailed. I was just speculating and making projections. This obiuosly no longer a possibility.

    One other thing bothers me with Montero at Catcher:
    We all know that Cash is saving… cash (sorry for that joke) to try and land Joe Mauer if he reaches the FA Market. Thi is why he’s not going after Bay, Holliday, etc… and not even considering paying Damon more than $5 Million. And he’s right. If there is a chance to aquire Mauer (I don’t really think there is, but some do…) Cash should do everything in his power to catch him. And if Mauer is wearing pinstripes this time next year, Montero can kiss catching for the Yankees goodbye.

    • EJ Fagan

      Personally, I wouldn’t sign Mauer to the mega-deal that he will require. I’m not sure if he’s a catcher going forward. He’s already having yearly injury concerns. Like Montero, he’s a really big guy behind the plate.

      For the same reasons that Montero might end up at 1st base, Mauer might too. But Montero should at least have some years before that happens.

  10. leftylarry

    Moshe Mandel: I think they try him at LF. If that doesn’t work, he can split time at DH, C, and 1B as Teixeira ages. He’s so young that he will still be just entering his prime when Teixeira’s contract finishes. If C and LF do not work out, he could be the backup catcher, backup 1Bman, and regular DH until Tex vacates first base.  

    O.K let’s be crazy creative here.
    Montero 1st base.
    AROD ss
    Teixiera 3b
    Jeter cf/lf/rf

    no good?

    How about:
    Montero 1b
    Jeter SS
    Tex 3b
    Arod lf/rf.
    Ain’t happening but fun anyway.

  11. bornwithpinstripes

    i say tell montero don;t bring a glove, just bats..edgar martinez with much more power. just let him hit so what he is young for dh.. what is it reserved for 35 and up?? so we have a 21 year old hitting as the dh . next year behind arod .. hold on to your hats american league pitchers..

  12. jeremy

    i’m a little puzzled as to how people are saying “when tex’s contact is done montero can play first” HUH??? is tex not good enough!!! we have him for the next 7 years people, dont start thinking 7 years in advance like royals/pirates fans would! i agree with a post earlier that i hadnt even thought of “We all know that Cash is saving… cash (sorry for that joke) to try and land Joe Mauer if he reaches the FA Market” now, personally, i feel mauer is 99% likely to stay in minnesota BUT if that 1% turns out to be that he DOES hit the FA market, NYY will have a lot of payroll flexibility by not spending so much this offseason. what a lineup that would be huh? i can just picture it now:
    SS jeter
    C mauer
    1B tex
    3B a-rod
    DH posada
    RF montero
    2B cano
    CF granderson
    LF swish
    that would be the scariest offense a pitcher would ever face lol and of coarse the rotation would have cc aj and others heck! even igawa MIGHT be able to win a game with that offense behind him! its a stetch i know but he could. point is, any pitcher with that type of offense could legitamately win a LOT of games. i’ll keep dreaming though lol

    • Moshe Mandel

      The idea is to find a spot for Montero if the OF doesnt work out. When Tex’s xontract is up, Montero is just 27. No one is looking to replace him, just to find a place for Montero to spend the bulk of his career.

      • jeremy

        so its more in lines of meaning not nessasarily what the yankees need, as to just where montero will end up then right? ok then, now i can get it a little more. i was just thinking “wow they want montero over tex… ALREADY?!” lol

        • Moshe Mandel

          Exactly.