Mark Montgomery was drafted by the Yankees in the 11th round of the 2011 draft out of Longwood University in Virginia. The right-handed relief pitcher had a 0.89 ERA and ten saves his junior year at Longwood while converting ten saves. Montgomery held the Longwood record for lowest ERA, most saves, and fewest hits allowed per nine innings his final year before joining the Yankees.
Montgomery excelled at every level of the Yankees' system in the 2011 and 2012 seasons, putting up a 1.91 and 1.54 ERA, respectively. Being untouched by opposing batters allowed Montgomery to fly through the system before making it to Double-A Trenton at the end of the 2012 season.
Heading into the 2013 season, Montgomery was ranked 8th in the system by MLB.com after an amazing season the year before. Struggles as a professional didn't really strike Montgomery until his first taste of Triple-A, when he showed up to spring training out of shape. That coupled with injuries hampered his production all season. In 40 innings for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Montgomery pitched to a 3.38 ERA. It was the first time his ERA had been even above 2.00 with the Yankees.
It seems reasonable to assume that Montgomery would have gotten a chance to make it to the big leagues if he hadn't struggled with injuries and an increased walk rate. Unfortunately, his first real problems surfaced at an inopportune time and he never got the chance to showcase his talent at the major league level.
If Montgomery shows up to spring training in good shape and has a strong showing in Tampa, there could be a spot for him in the Yankees' bullpen when the team heads north. It's possible that the team would like to see him prove himself against Triple-A hitters the way that he was able to against hitters in the lower levels of the minors before last season first, but a lot would have to go wrong in 2014 for Montgomery not to get his first taste of MLB.
The Montgomery that was able to fly through the system with ease would be a tremendous asset to the Yankee bullpen that is currently constructed with a number of question marks. His killer strikeout potential could put him in line to be the next sort of David Robertson-type reliever if everything breaks just right for him. It would be really surprising if he spent the entire year in Triple-A, but part of that will depend on how well he took care of himself this offseason.
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