Jesus Montero: Where Does He Project?
When you see Jesus Montero step to the plate, you see more of an NFL linebacker than a baseball player. The 6'4'', 225 pound, 20-year-old catcher hails from Guacara, Venezuela. Signed as a 16-year-old by the New York Yankees in 2006, Montero was tagged as the heir to Jorge Posada—high standards for just a teenager.
Declared the best player and hitter of all international signees in 2006, Montero joined the Gulf Coast Yankees in 2007 at the age of 17. The following spring, Montero was invited to Spring Training. In his only plate appearance, Montero hit a home run, but was later sent back down to the minors to the Class A Charleston Riverdogs. He finished the Minor League season with a .326 batting average, 17 home runs, and 87 RBI.
The following season in 2009, Montero began with the Tampa Yankees of the Class A Advanced Florida State League, but was shorty promoted in early June to Double A Trenton. He earned All-Star honors and was featured in the Futures Game for baseball's top minor league prospects. In 2009 with Tampa and Trenton, Montero finished with a combined .337 batting average, 17 home runs, and 70 RBI.
Entering 2010, Montero is listed by Baseball America as the Yankees' No. 1 prospect, and the fourth best in all of baseball. Montero will not begin the season in the Major Leagues, and his expected time of arrival in the MLB is in 2011.
Montero's strength is obviously hitting ability. His numbers have grown with each promotion in the minor leagues, and his plate discipline shows maturity years in advance. He has power to all fields and is a consistent .300-plus hitter.
Being only 20 years old, many see Montero's body filling out even more. He could grow another inch or two and add even more muscle to an already powerful frame.
However, Montero's weakness is his defensive ability. Although his work behind the plate has improved, it is still considered below-average for the position.
It is clear, however, that Montero would like to stay behind the plate for years to come.
"[I like] being the leader, being in charge, being able to run a pitching staff. I like to be one of the guys who runs the game," said Montero in a recent interview.
That being said, Montero's massive, growing frame, and his insufficient defensive ability beg the question about his future place with the Yankees.
Defensive ability is making a comeback in MLB these days, with teams placing increased emphasis on defensive players over offensive players. New statistics are behind fabricated to show the effects of great defensive players and their impact on a full season.
Some believe Montero will start catching once Jorge Posada retires, and then will eventually move to first base. But with Mark Teixera locked up at first base for the next decade, Montero will be trapped behind the plate, or he will become the modern day Edgar Martinez.
The Designated Hitter position is also becoming a dying trend. Teams are using that role now for everyday players, instead of sticking an inadequate fielder in that spot. Players such as David Ortiz are becoming a dying breed and a liability in the American League, although the guy can still produce.
With this said, what will the Yankees do with Jesus Montero? Certainly he will break into the league within the next two years, but what position he will be playing five or seven years down the road?
You can follow Gavin Bedell on Twitter @ twitter.com/gavinbedell
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