The Daily News had an article about Yankees catching prospect Jesus Montero and the offensive struggles that he is experiencing for the first time in his career this season.
In it the article’s author, Wayne Coffey, has a quote from Yankees senior VP of baseball operations Mark Newman about Montero’s improved defense and in an article focusing on his current offensive struggles it was almost an afterthought. However I think his improved defense is the real story here.
Coming into this season almost everyone who had seen catcher Jesus Montero hit had praised him and the general consensus was that his bat would make him a future star. What was highly contested though was his defense.
Many said that his bat was major league ready, but the Yankees ultimately decided that his defense needed work. So early this spring the Yankees proclaimed that no matter how well Jesus hit this season he would spend the entire season in Triple-A for defense reasons.
So naturally I have not been worried about Montero’s bat. He’s 20 years old, which is extremely young for Triple-A so naturally he’s going to struggle from time to time. No, this year I have had my eye open for things written about his defense.
Here is what the Daily News said about his defense:
Both Newman and (Butch) Wynegar are thrilled with the progress Montero has made behind the plate – in his game management, his throwing, his pitch-blocking. Not long ago there was widespread speculation that Montero would have to change his position, but Newman says “he has come light years (defensively) since the middle of last season,” and Montero agrees. “I think I improve every time I catch,” he says.
This to me is the big news in this entire story. Baseball players slump, that’s what they do. Big deal. The fact that the Yankees are thrilled about his improvements defensively are a big deal.
If Jesus Montero can make these strides defensively and he can stay behind the plate, that will be huge for the Yankees. Nobody likes young DH’s, but a catcher capable of putting up an OPS of .900 or better while being at least average defensively really gives the Yankees an edge over other teams (except of course the Twins).
Let’s remember not to get too excited though. These are quotes coming directly from the Yankees who, if they were looking to build up his trade value, would say nothing less than what they are saying. So while this does make me happy to hear it doesn’t mean the Yankees quite have a future gold glover on their hands.