If you’re a fan of the New York Yankees you know the name Jesus Montero. If your a fan of Major League Baseball you’ll know the name soon enough. Montero had the N.Y. hype machine behind him all spring, but he didn’t make the Show in 2011. But you better believe his time will come.
When I refer to the minor league catcher as the next big thing I do so literally and figuratively. The 6’4″ Montero has talent as big as his frame. After signing in 2007, he’s ascended the minor league ranks at a Superstars pace. Rookie ball in ’07 as a 17 year old, hitting .280 with a .366 OBP. He played A Ball in ’08 with .326/.376, and his power started to develop with 17 home runs in 132 games. In ’09 he split time between A+ and AA and hit 17 more HR’s in just 92 games. In 2010, while in AAA, he knocked out 21 homers and hit .289/.353, not too shabby.
Not making the Yankees at the start of the 2011 season is looked at as a failure to some, but it’s probably the best thing for Montero. Few 21 year old kids are ready to contribute at the MLB level. And really, what good could come from playing sporadically behind a capable veteran in Russell Martin and long time Yankee Jorge Posada.
It’s probably a stretch to call his defense average for a catcher, so the time in AAA, catching everyday, will serve him well. But a more likely option for his long term success could be a switch to 1st base. At his size the wear and tear on his body behind the plate could cut time off his career. And the Yankees are fairly stacked at catcher in the minors with another star in the making in teenager Gary Sanchez.
It’s bad enough that the Yankees have the kind of cash flow where every free agent is a potential New Yorker, and that they have the kind of stroke to pull off any trade at any time, but to have such good prospects down on the farm is just overkill. An embarrassment of riches.