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Yankees 2014 Roster Report Card: Mark Montgomery

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Mark Montgomery seemed to go backwards this season, both figuratively and literally.

USA TODAY Sports

Grade: D

2014 Statistics: (AAA) 3.03 ERA,  3.96 FIP, 10.3 K/9, 5.5 BB/9, 29.2 IP
(AA) 0.83 ERA,  3.63 FIP, 7.1 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 21.2 IP

2014 Level/Roster Status: Trenton (AA)/Non 40-man

Any season where the single most noteworthy moment was getting demoted from Triple-A Scranton to Double-A Trenton to make room for Heath Bell is likely a season to be forgotten.

The hope for Mark Montgomery this season was that he would return to elite relief prospect status after a tough 2013 fighting off shoulder injuries and twin troubles of losing velocity and control. Unfortunately the rebound didn't happen this year; Montgomery stayed healthy but the fastball velocity from 2012 never returned.

The below is  a quote from Brian Cashman (source: The Trentonian)

He used to have much bigger velocity, and now its settling at a lower level. He still has the performance behind it, its just not the power stuff it was before. He’s still someone that’s on our radar.

It does sound like Montgomery's prospect status has taken a hit with the front office. Considering that bullpen depth in the organization currently, a prospect losing shine in his age-24 season has an uphill road towards making the big league team.

That said, Cashman did specifically say that Montgomery is still on the team's radar. I'm personally hoping the demotion was more about Montgomery than it was about clearing a spot for Bell. A quick look at the gaudy ERA in Trenton, and two fewer walks per-nine innings might tell a positive story about the way Montgomery handled the demotion, but it's concerning that his velocity never returned while the strikeout rate fell off and that his FIP told a very different story compared to his ERA.

All told, there doesn't seem to be much reason for optimism at this point with Montgomery, but it appears safe to say he will receive at least one more shot to impress in 2015. Hopefully for his sake, some of that fastball-life returns now that he is a full year removed from his shoulder trouble. Montgomery is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft at this point, so the Yankees will have to decide very soon if they think enough of him to protect him on the 40-man roster, or if they want to risk losing him a la Tom Kahnle. If he does stay, he'll also need to continue to work on that control, which might suggest he'll remain at Double-A at least at the beginning of the year where he will be given a chance to earn his way back to Scranton and perhaps a shot with the big-league club in September.