#4 Jesus Montero
By EJ Fagan | February 19th, 2008
Weight: 225 lbs
Scouting Report: He’s got power. Lots and lots of power. Depending on who you ask, he’s somewhere between Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard on the power scale. We don’t know a whole lot about his other defensive abilities, but he appears to have no major strikeout issues on the horizon, and at least is reputed to be a patient hitter. Translation? He won’t hit .260, and he should take more walks than Ivan Rodriguez. Beyond that, its all speculation. Defensively, Montero is big for a catcher, but not significantly larger than a guy like Matt Wieters. As long as he doesn’t get much larger, he should be alright. Reports are scant, but for now it looks like fans can breath a little easier compared to last year with hope that Montero will remain behind the plate.
History: The Yankees signed him last year at the age of 16. When Chase Wright was drafted, Montero was 10 years old.
This Season: Sent to the Gulf Coast League, Montero hit .280/.366/.421, with 3 HR, 6 2b, 18 strikeouts, and 12 walks in 33 games, before belting 2 HR and a double in the playoffs, which with equivalent playing time is about equal to 23 HR over a major league season. Montero then started to completely rake against the big boys in winter ball. He hit .358/.448/.630 with 14 strikeouts, 14 walks, 6 HR and 4 doubles in 23 games - 40 HR power. I couldn’t find the actual number, but Montero also nailed a ton of base runners. He missed part of the beginning of the season with an ankle injury, which could explain why he finished much stronger than he began.
Outlook and Movement: Montero is still very young - he doesn’t turn 19 until next November. Priority #1 for the Yankees has to be to continue to settle him in to catching. He’ll head to Charleston to start the year, but there is a very real possibility that he absolutely rakes and forces a quick promotion to Tampa. I’m sure the Yankees wouldn’t mind this too much, since it would open a spot for Austin Romine in low-A, and would allow them to keep Jesus closer to their coaching nexus. 2010 is the earliest that I can see him on the cusp of the majors.
Ranking: Since 2003, no catcher has hit more than 25 home runs. Only three catchers (McCann, Posada, and Barrett) have slugged .517 or higher. Montero can do both. Every year. Eric and I both have Montero at #5. He’s not really in the realm of the big 3 (Kennedy, Jackson, and Tabata) due to proximity to the majors, but he easily has a higher ceiling than any of them. The age at which his power is appearing is significant: remember that we’re all waiting for that development to occur for Jose Tabata, and he’s nearly two years older. He’s already shown 25 HR power, but that could easily double as he ages. If he remains at catcher without any injuries, there’s little doubt in my mind that Montero will top this list next year. All of that said: Jesus Montero shares a quality with Dellin Betances. He does not have to fulfill all of his potential to be a major league star. If he’s *only* a .280/.360/.480 catcher, he’s a great replacement for Jorge Posada, or if he’s *only* a .280/.360/.560 1st baseman, he will be one of the better players at his position in the game. His skillset is not entirely different from Prince Fielder at the same age.