Blocked Prospects: Jesus Montero

In 20-year-old catcher Jesus Montero, the Yankees have what is arguably their best offensive prospect since Derek Jeter. But there's a problem: they don't have an obvious place to put him.

Both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein ranked Montero as the 4th best prospect in the game, while ESPN's Keith Law had him 10th. He is clearly one of the game's brightest young minor leaguers, but as Baseball America said in their 2010 Handbook, "the Yankees no longer talk abut him as an every day major league catcher" because he "is somewhat stiff and lacks agility behind the plate." Despite his defensive woes, Montero hit .337/.389/.562 with 17 homers in 92 games across two levels last year. His season ended prematurely because of a broken finger suffered while he was behind the dish.

In most other organizations, Montero would simply move out from behind the plate and learn how to play first base. Of course, the Yankees already have Mark Teixeira penciled into the position for the next seven years. A corner outfield spot may be a possibility, but scouts are skeptical because his lack of athleticism might not allow him to be anything better than below average out there. Designated hitter is less than ideal since he's so young, not to mention that they'll need the spot for some of the older players on the team's roster.

If they so choose, the Yankees could look to trade Montero for a piece to help the big league roster, something they're known to do with their prospects. In fact, they offered Montero to the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay straight up last year. Jorge Posada is under contract through 2011 and isn't getting any younger, so they could try to ease Montero in as a back-up catcher/part-time DH at first. Montero started the season at Triple-A, and it's worth remembering that he'll be just 27-years-old when Teixeira's contract is up.


36 Responses to Blocked Prospects: Jesus Montero Leave a Reply

  1. Guest 5 years ago

    I don’t know if I would really call him a ‘blocked prospect’. He would have no clear spot on the roster now, but in 2011 when he should be up in the majors, Posada won’t be able to catch that much I assume, so I agree that he could be a part time DH/catcher.

  2. TytheSportsGuy 5 years ago

    Why not DH him?

    • Guest 5 years ago

      The Yankees would rather use those spots for aging veterans, so they don’t have to play the field everyday.

  3. tcnjsteve 5 years ago

    maybe swap him for that twins catching prospect? Twins are entrenched at catcher, but might might need a 1b depending on Justin Morneau’s situation. Yankees get a guy who can actually catch

    • andrewyf 5 years ago

      The Yankees have plenty of guys in their system who can ‘actually catch’. In fact, they may have the deepest stable of catching talent in all of baseball.

      I don’t even know if the Twins could come up with something to trade for Montero that would satisfy. And I don’t know that they would even want to. The perfect recipe for a trade never happening.

  4. Rich_in_NJ 5 years ago

    Everything I read from the Yankees this spring has been contra to BA’s assertion. If they really feel that way, he should be getting time in RF. That they haven’t, done that, casts doubt on the veracity of what BA has asserted.

  5. jobathehut 5 years ago

    3b anyone ?

  6. andrewyf 5 years ago

    “it’s worth remembering that he’ll be just 27-years-old when Teixeira’s contract is up.”

    This is a great point. Concerns about Montero not being able to catch late into his career can be quelled because he’ll be entering his prime as soon as Mark Teixeira leaves.

    Whatever Baseball America seems to think they know about internal Yankee discussions, most other reports (even from external scouts) are impressed with Montero’s work behind the plate, and questions about his defense diminishing instead of increasing.

    Besides, the Yankees have lived with Posada’s below-average receiving skills for years, and have dealt with plenty of pitchers who don’t like his game-calling. Montero’s bat is so good that they will likely be able to live with his below-average catching skills as well. Would they like to have an above-average defensive every day catcher behind the plate? Sure, but it’s more valuable to have a good-hitting, below-average defensive backstop. Offense is still the more important and valuable part of a player’s skillset, no matter whatever renewed focus there is on defense these days.

  7. ltdibo020 5 years ago

    See now, I also heard from some scouts that he has an above average arm and the only question was could they speed up the release to second. He could improve behind the dish also, he is only 20. I think hes the starter next year or maybe him and Romine/Cervelli combo. His real deficiency I heard was working with pitchers. I hope to get up to Scranton in May and check him out. Scouts also said Mattingly had no power and would only be an average hitter. Its hard to judge scouts opinions sometimes, they seem to vary from team to team. I heard some say he was too big too catch, but Mauer is huge and he does fine, Montero is smaller than Mauer. Lance Parrish was h a big dude, he also did fine…We will see….

  8. mattchu12 5 years ago

    Let Montero and Posada play 50/50 at catcher and DH in 2011, bring up Romine in 2012 to be the everyday catcher with Montero mostly being the DH. And if we don’t keep Teixeira when his contract expires, we look at Montero as a first base option. We’ve talking a lot about needing the DH for older players, but look at their team. Only Jeter and A-Rod are going to be around long-term and have defense concerns. Even at the end of his contract, I think Teix would be more than capable at first base.

  9. BaseballFan0707 5 years ago

    Before Brett Gardner, the last time the Yanks had an above average outfielder defensively that mattered was…when? Granderson’s range has fluxed over the past few years.

    If Montero’s bat lives up to the hype, who cares if he can’t play the outfield all that well. Hell, Bernie had a UZR of -21.2 in 02 and posted a WAR of 4.5. And Montero’s bat is supposed to be far better than Bernie’s ever was once it reaches full potential. And, unless Montero is Adam Dunn un-athletic (which he isn’t), then yeah.

    I still think that his offense is far too valuable to trade away. Either give him a chance to learn how to play the catcher position at a near average level, (I’m still waiting for Posada to do so.) or stick him in a corner outfield spot. Preferably right field, which is probably not so brutal in Yankee Stadium to play since there’s not as much ground to cover. I prefer the latter of the two, because I really want to see Romine break out with the club and be a good player.

    • andrewyf 5 years ago

      “And Montero’s bat is supposed to be far better than Bernie’s ever was once it reaches full potential.”

      Stop it.

      Bernie Williams’ bat from 1997 through 2002:

      .326/.411/.538, 146 OPS+

      Bernie Williams was an outstanding player, probably the best offensive player on the Yankees during that period.

      • couldn’t agree more… Bernie is an all-time Yankees great. If you are setting the bar that high for Montero, you will be disappointed. He may or may not turn into a Bobby Abreu with no speed… Most players sadly do not reach their power ceiling.

        I remember when everyone was ranting and raving about Hermida’s power ceiling. Raw power is still just that… raw power. Unless a guys blasing 20+ in the shortened minor league season, I would still never call him a sure thing. Probably still wouldn’t. And I sure as hell would not call them Yaz…

        • andrewyf 5 years ago

          Well, the thing about Montero that so many other prospects lack is that he combines very good power with elite contact skills. Montero is not an elite power hitter like Jay Bruce or Ryan Howard, he’s on a tier below that, but he’s going to be able to make more consistent and solid contact than they do, which can make up for the power difference.

          Miguel Cabrera is a high bar to set, but it’s realistic given Montero’s skillset as a hitter. Montero is a completely different hitter than Bernie Williams, he doesn’t (yet, at least) have his patience or his speed.

          • That’s exactly what I’m saying. There are certain skills that simply take time to develop. Some guys such as Werth have those skills, but take a long time to learn the disciplines of being a MLB hitter.

      • BaseballFan0707 5 years ago

        I love Bernie, don’t get me wrong, but Montero’s power is suppose to profile far better, and he will hopefully last longer than Bernie.

  10. There are so many different opinions on his defense, i have read multiple articles on him, and each say very different things. One said he had a great arm, and he doesn’t need to work on throwing, another said that his arm was awful, and i remember another one where it was about how his blocking and was bad. I’m not sure what to believe at this point until I see him play i guess. But I would keep him at catcher until it’s proven in the majors that he cant play there successfully.

    Also the point about Teix’s contract was a very good point. I never really thought of that until now, but now that i realize it, they could potentially have him catch for a few seasons, then by the time Romine has really emerged as the dominant overall player (which might not ever happen) this would probably be around the time teix is done with his deal or close to the end of it, they can not resign him, then move montero to first and make Romine the starting catcher.

    • General consensus from someone who has watched Montero live in Trenton (NJ Red Sox fan here) and reads a lot about him, he has a ton of raw power and not just a great arm… this guys got a cannon… However, if you watch him live just once, you can see that his mobility behind the plate doesn’t look like its something thats going to improve. I haven’t heard any big complaints over him gamecalling ability, but thats something very few catchers are good at. That is what sets aside your Pudge Rodriguez, Joe Mauer and Jason Varitek. Look at the job Mauer has done with that Twins pitching staff. He has them turning in quality outings, and they have no true ace. The Yankees are going to have to rely on some young pitching tied down by big contracts to their top guns. They will need a catcher 2011 and beyond who calls a good game and is very agile behind the dish, as young pitchers are usually a bit wild.

      I’m not saying Montero won’t, but I’m saying as someone who has watched him live and on MiLB.tv, he is more than likely not going to fulfill the needs the Yankees will have behind the plate. If they can move him for a strong corner outfield bat that isn’t too costly, say maybe even a Carl Crawford type should the Rays fall out of contention, then Cashman really must consider putting a package together surrounding Montero. That one more strong bat to fill the hole made by Gardner and Swisher (who while are off to good starts likely wont hit for average) would put them as clear cut favorites for the World Series repeat.

      • andrewyf 5 years ago

        The only kinds of players the Yankees would (or should) move Montero for are top-of-the-line ace pitchers (like Halladay), or top-of-the-line hitters like Sizemore or Ramirez, who are not going to be FA any time soon.

        Crawford, who almost certainly will be a FA at the end of the year, is not a guy anyone is going to trade a top prospect for. Especially Cashman, who has proven to be one of the greatest deal-makers in the game.

        The Yankees’ needs behind the plate are a guy who can replace Posada’s production, which Montero conceivably can. They don’t suddenly have a need for a top defensive guy who can handle an all-rookie pitching staff, or a staff filled with retreads or mediocrity who need all the help they can get. Look at what happened this year, they only had room for one young guy, the rest is filled by veterans, and will be for a very long time. Let’s not start making things up.

        Also, Pudge Rodriguez is actually well-known for his horrendous game-calling. He won’t be held out of the HOF, but it’s widely known that he calls for predominantly fastballs just so he can up his CS%. He’s a selfish, egotistical player who pretty much every pitcher hates to throw to.

        • johnsilver 5 years ago

          Still can’t fault Riccardi for not moving the best pitcher in the game, for a prospect who has never seen a pitch above AA ball, great prospect or not. Too much than can go wrong when Philly knew there would be good offers coming during the off season from all quarters for Halladay.

        • johnsilver 5 years ago

          Still can’t fault Riccardi for not moving the best pitcher in the game, for a prospect who has never seen a pitch above AA ball, great prospect or not. Too much than can go wrong when Philly knew there would be good offers coming during the off season from all quarters for Halladay.

  11. ZeroZeroZero 5 years ago

    A masher like Montero is never ‘blocked’. When hes ready they will find a spot for him.

  12. levendis 5 years ago

    Jesus Montero is a beasttt, i really doubt the Yankees are going to trade him away. He could probably spend a few years as a catcher before he transitions to a RF or DH.

    • ELPinchy 5 years ago

      From what everyone else is saying I highly doubt he will ever see RF.

      Yet it does sound idiotic to think of trading him for a while.

  13. richatmilehigh 5 years ago

    The kid can rake no doubt, but iv’e seen him behind the plate enough to know that he will not be a Major League Catcher. He is very stiff, and though his arm is strong, he has a little hitch when he throws, and his footwork is bad. He should be played in the OF, Right Field specifically… I mean he can’t be as bad as Swisher right? The kid has the goods when it comes to the bat, DH him or have him play the OF!

  14. MackNorth 5 years ago

    Don’t the Yankees have about 3 other legitimate catching prospects as well

    • Rich_in_NJ 5 years ago

      Yup, Romine, Sanchez, and Murphy, all among their top ten prospects, but only Romine is close to the ML.

  15. yankeepride3 5 years ago

    I think Montero and Posada will do a platoon DH/C thing next year. If the Yankees are going to go after Crawford and/or Lee this offseason, they’re going to need cheap options to fill out the line-up. I think thats how this is going to play out.

  16. dickylarue 5 years ago

    The Yankees aren’t trading this guy. I’ve heard that he will be a step above Piazza behind the plate which if you hit 30-40 HR’s as a catcher, is good enough. If he’s worse than Piazza that’s a problem, but Piazza started at catcher for a long time and helped his team win a lot.

    Montero is coming up to a team with Girardi and Tony Pena on the staff. I’m not worried about him if they aren’t worried about him. If anyone can turn him into a catcher, it’s those two plus Posada.

    With Jorge pushing 40, he’s simply not a blocked prospect.

  17. Taskmaster75 5 years ago

    Yeah, that Chris Carpenter guy is awful….

    I hate the guy.

  18. andrewyf 5 years ago

    And Montero is arguably the best hitter in the minor leagues. He’s also been compared to Miguel Cabrera by many scouts. It’s for a good reason.

  19. andrewyf 5 years ago

    No one is saying he’s 100% going to be. But Miguel Cabrera is a realistic outcome for a hitter like Montero. Not likely, but realistic. Completely different than some guy comparing Fernando Martinez’s swing to Ted Williams. Not the same situation at all. Montero is a similar hitter to Miguel Cabrera (not just some rather meaningless trait like his swing, but his actual production and talent level), with actually more advanced results in the minor leagues. There is still a long-shot that he reaches the heights Miggy has, as with any prospect, but he Miggy is a realistic projection for the type of hitter Montero can become.

  20. andrewyf 5 years ago

    No one is saying he’s 100% going to be. But Miguel Cabrera is a realistic outcome for a hitter like Montero. Not likely, but realistic. Completely different than some guy comparing Fernando Martinez’s swing to Ted Williams. Not the same situation at all. Montero is a similar hitter to Miguel Cabrera (not just some rather meaningless trait like his swing, but his actual production and talent level), with actually more advanced results in the minor leagues. There is still a long-shot that he reaches the heights Miggy has, as with any prospect, but he Miggy is a realistic projection for the type of hitter Montero can become.

  21. andrewyf 5 years ago

    If he isn’t capable of handling the catcher’s position at all, whatsoever, 100% incapable of doing it (which, quite frankly, is not that likely to happen, since Montero is still catching in the highest level of the minor leagues and by all accounts has improved his receiving skills, so clearly he has some actual ability), even in that worst-case defensive scenario, then the Yankees will still find at-bats for him, because his bat is that good.

    In the more likely scenario, Montero will simply be a below-average catcher a la Victor Martinez until such time a situation comes along where it is more valuable for his team to play him at another position. This is why it’s important to note that Teixeira is gone right when Montero will be entering his prime as a hitter.

    He’s not going anywhere unless he’s bringing back an elite player.

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