Keith Law looks at Montero, Banuelos

Keith Law’s top 100 prospects list is finally out and the Yankees are represented by none other than Jesus Montero (C), who comes in at number 10, as well as Manny Banuelos (LHP), who rounds out the list at number 96.

Here’s Law’s take on Montero:

Montero is really a “CINO” (catcher in name only), as few people outside the Yankees organization believe the giant player — listed at 6-4, 225 pounds, although he’s bigger than that now — can stay behind the plate, even with the improvement in his throwing in 2009. Montero’s ticket to the big leagues is his bat, and his hitting style is similar to that of another big guy who spent a lot of his career at DH: Frank Thomas. Montero transfers his weight early and hits off his front foot, but he generates tremendous bat speed and is so strong that he hits and hits for power regardless of the fact that he’s on that lead foot. Behind the plate, he has arm strength and has improved his accuracy, but he’s so big that he doesn’t move quickly enough to catch in the big leagues, and his receiving has never been a strength. His bat is so far ahead of his glove anyway that it might end up making sense for the Yankees to employ him as a major league DH soon rather than wait for him to develop as a catcher, knowing that there’s a good chance the latter won’t happen.

Defensive concerns are always the shackles to which Montero is bound. If defense was not an issue – well, as Law points out, his size is actually the biggest issue – he would be much higher on the list. For instance, in Jonathan Mayo’s recent top 50 prospects list for, Montero was surprisingly pegged at number 19 because of defensive doubts. However, being ranked as the 10th best prospect in baseball is certainly nothing to complain about.

Here’s Law’s take on Banuelos:

Banuelos and Zach McAllister are both pretty close and I could have put McAllister on the list instead, but I’ll roll the dice on Banuelos’ age and chance for a little more velocity as he matures physically. He sits 90-92 mph right now as a starter with a solid-average changeup, and a chance for both pitches to improve to above-average in time. His curveball remains his weakest offering, soft without much depth, although he has the arm speed to throw a good breaking ball; it just may turn out to be a slider or cutter instead of a true curve. He has good feel and tremendous mound presence, which helped him survive as an 18-year-old in the full-season Sally League. He’s also one of the best Mexican prospects in the minors, as the Yankees are one of the few teams to still scout Mexico aggressively for amateur talent. His ceiling is probably just a No. 3 or No. 4 starter, but given his youth and feel he’s got a good chance to get there.

Banuelos, in his first full season, worked on his curveball considerably and it seemed to improve later on in the year. “I’ve worked on grabbing the ball on the seams and so far I have made that adjustment, and my curveball has been working well,” he noted in mid-July. Banuelos is just 18, so he has a lot of time to figure out his breaking stuff.

Law goes on to rank the Yankees prospects in order:

1. Jesus Montero, C
2. Manny Banuelos, LHP
3. Zach McAllister, RHP
4. Austin Romine, C
5. Slade Heathcott, CF
6. Jose Ramirez, RHP
7. Gary Sanchez, C
8. Andrew Brackman, RHP
9. David Adams, 2B
10. JR Murphy, C

When Jesus Montero is eventually promoted, I wonder how the Yankees’ farm system, as a whole, will be ranked…

Photo via Jim McIssac/Getty Images

5 thoughts on “Keith Law looks at Montero, Banuelos

  1. It may make sense to begin working with Montero as a corner outfielder, still much more valuable than a DH. A rightfielder in Yankee Stadium doesn’t need great speed, and a catcher usually has a strong enough arm to be decent in the outfield.

  2. When Montero graduates, i’m going to hope against hope that Brackman demonstrates enough consistency in his stuff to warrant a return to the top 100 in style. i believe Klaw had brackman on last year’s last at 100. i think…

    If not, Heathcott and Murphy have definite shots, and Heathcott only needs to put a season on par with what Kalish put together in order make a big splash. McAllister just isn’t going to get any prospect love from Klaw so whatevs. Jose Ramirez could & should make a big splash at Low-A , just like Arodys did.

  3. When Jesus Montero is eventually promoted, I wonder how the Yankees’ farm system, as a whole, will be ranked…
    Given that Law ranked the Yanks 25/30, it’ll take a good showing by Heathcott, Murphy, Sanchez and some of the sleepers (Heredia, Mitchell) for the team to be ranked higher, post-Montero graduation.

    Then again, Law’s rankings are so logically inconsistent — rewarding high-ceiling talent in the low minors for some teams and ignoring it for others — it’s impossible to predict what Laws rankings will look like next year.