The time has finally come.
As Travis G posted late last night, the Yankees have called catching prospect Jesus Montero up to the major leagues. While this move certainly doesn't come as a surprise, with roster expansion on September 1st and all, it's a joyous occasion that will begin to shed light on what this young man is capable of.
For those that have been hiding under a rock for the past seven months, Jesus Montero is the number one prospect in New York's farm system and one of the top hitting prospects in all of baseball. Here's our very own scouting report of him from back in May.
Much, much more after the jump.
Montero was definitely being eyed closely in spring training as the possible successor to Jorge Posada to start the 2011 campaign. However, Russell Martin and his "All-Star" caliber play ultimately won the battle and Montero was given more time in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. I don't think anyone was totally opposed to Martin getting the starting job, but any daily reader here at Pinstripe Alley knows well how the writers began to feel about the catching situation soon after the All-Star break.
In Scranton this season, Montero had a slow start but did very well considering he's one of the youngest players at the Triple-A level. Through 109 games, Montero hit .288 with 18 home runs, 67 RBI, .348 OBP, and 121 hits. His raw power to all fields has the potential to eventually make him a serious threat at the ML level. To quote the Wall Street Journal, "He projects as a DH replacement of Jorge Posada at worst, and the Yankees catcher of the future at best." His defense is slightly below-average to average, but I expect it to improve over time. Remember, he's only 21-years-old.
With that being said, I don't particularly put a tremendous amount of stock into what he shows us over the course of the next 28 games. Who knows how many games he'll actually see action in. Playing irregularly off the bench and trying to live up to sometimes unreasonable expectations could cause a dip in numbers. Adjusting to big league pitching will take time as well. I don't mean to come across as a downer, but what he shows this month won't necessarily be indicative of future performance.
However, he should be an improvement over Posada and Martin. Despite Posada's recent surge (.302/.362/.492 in 21 games), Montero could easily be just as productive as Posada has been this season in the month that he'll be around for. Russell Martin has been nothing to brag about all season with his .325 on-base percentage (.311 since April 24), either.
My advice to all the fans out there is to be patient with Montero. Regardless of what he does in September, it's a small sample size and we'll get a real idea of what he can do next year. It would be fantastic if he quickly adjusted and helped the Yankees take the American League East though!
If I had to give advice to Montero, it would be: play the game the way you know how to. Enjoy the month and play to the best of your ability when called upon. And all Yankee fans have your back.
Happy Montero-mas, folks (sorry if that's not PC). Here's to the beginning of something that could be very special.
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