As baseball fans, there may be no other pleasure that excites the mind and brews curiosity than that of the long awaited call up of a top prospect.
Certainly, nothing is as thought provoking.
While single A, AA and AAA are all stepping stones to the big club, the gap between them and the MLB is a very large one, and has been known to eat up a player's talent in the transition.
From this we learn that all that glitters ain't gold and the difference between a top prospect and a Major League failure is just a plane ride.
This being said, we cannot condemn all prospects for the saturated talent that we've seen in many of their peers, as many do live up to the hype and many do become stars.
While New York Yankees highly touted prospect Jesus Montero has defied many skeptics in his first seven games in the big leagues, with a line of .347/.423/.739, three home runs and six RBI in seven games, the flame in my skeptical mind has still yet to be extinguished.
Here are five reasons why Montero still has a lot to prove as a Major League Baseball player.
Before I go on, I want to make clear that I know a seven game sample size is simply too small to make any conclusive statements about the future of Montero's performance.
However, as the postseason looms, I want to analyze what he's done to this point and see if he deserves to play in the postseason. What I have gathered from the seven games Montero has played with New York is that he loves the home fans, and the popularity he has at such a young age in such a prestigious organization.
I have also learned, however, that when the fans in the stadium are unaware, or less aware of who he is, the confidence that made him such a successful minor leaguer, and same confidence that allowed for his quick and easy start in the majors, is absent.
In his seven games, four have been in Yankee Stadium and three have been on the road.
While at home, Montero has played to the tune of .462/.533/.923 with two home runs, five RBI and three strikeouts.
On the road, he's been quite a different player, performing at a clip of .200/.273/.500 with one home run, one RBI and zero strikeouts.
The difference in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage makes it clear that Montero has a lot more trouble making contact or drawing walks away from Yankee Stadium, but what can be said of his strikeout comparisons?
What I propose is that Montero is still immature as a hitter.
With the poor performance he has put on on the road, his zero strikeouts as compared to three at home tells me that he is a more free swinger in Yankee Stadium, and is simply trying harder to give the home crowd what they want.
While this has resulted in exceptional performances from Montero in New York, it only makes his real shortcomings as a player more obvious when he is unable to perform at the same calibre on the road.
Montero needs to carry the same mindset he has in Yankee Stadium to every stadium he plays at, while maintaining the same hitting principles he has at home.
It is obvious that Montero has what it takes to be the real deal, but in order to reach that status, he'll have to post better home/away splits.
In nine at bats with runners on base, Montero has brought home four runs.
Not bad, right?
While four RBI in nine AB's is respectable enough, they came on the only two hits he had in those AB's.
Montero is currently hitting .222/.300/.556 with runners on base, a line that isn't terrible by any means, but when compared to his stats with no one on base, poses as another indication of his immaturity as a big league player.
With the bases empty, his line looks like this: .429/.500/.857.
He posted these stats in five more at bats, while striking out zero times and walking twice.
This is a depiction of how tame of a hitter Montero is when more things are expected from him.
With the bases empty, he feels more comfortable knowing that he represents a run at most, and if he makes an out, no one gets left on base.
On the other hand, he becomes a completely different hitter, with far less discipline when something is on the line.
Montero needs to start playing with his raw talent and ability—that's what got him his ticket to the big leagues—and not his head.
If Montero has trouble hitting with men on base, I don't know what you'd call his ability to hit with men in scoring position.
.167/.167/.167 is how Jesus Montero swings the bat with RISP.
This is a huge problem, and a huge reason why Montero could hurt the Yankees in the postseason.
It is unnatural and concerning to see a player, with the season averages Montero has, producing such ghastly performances when it matters.
You might think attributing his poor performance with men on base or RISP to his tendency for over-thinking his at bats is crazy. If that's the case, this may be a more convincing statistic.
In three AB's with RISP and two outs, Montero hasn't hit the broad side of a barn.
With zero's all across the board, and two strikeouts, he has been completely unable to produce when he has the last opportunity of the inning to bring runners home.
Postseason baseball calls for clutch hitting, an ability that has yet to manifest itself in the extremely talented Montero.
I just mentioned Montero's inability to hit with RISP and two outs.
While he has done next to nothing in this scenario, he has fared worse when you add his at bats in which there are two outs and no one on base.
In seven total at bats with two outs, Montero has posted a line of .143/.143/.143 with a single hit.
Not surprisingly, with one out and less pressure on him in the batter's box, Montero has produced slightly better numbers.
The difference of one out has yielded a line of .200/.333/.800, with a home run and two RBI.
Even less surprisingly, with zero outs and far less pressure on him, Montero's numbers become monstrous.
In this situation, he hits an astounding .545/.615/1.091 with two home runs, four RBI, two walks and zero strikeouts.
I'll be damned if there isn't a pattern emerging here.
In the seventh inning or later, Montero has had six at bats.
In these at bats he's has a single hit, a home run that cashed in two runners.
Aside from the stats generated from his home run, Montero has done very little in these late innings, hitting only .167 with a walk.
As the game wears on, Montero gets more and more conservative in the box which, although is the route to success for some hitters, is the opposite of Montero's batting style.
He is a relatively free swinger, and his natural raw abilities with the bat allow him to make good contact, and hit the ball hard.
In order for him to transfer his success into pressure situations, he'll have to maintain this free swinging style.