Friday, December 29, 2006

Prospect Profile: Jesus Montero (#9)

Age: 16
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 220
Drafted: Signed out of Venezuela in 2006 for 2 million dollars
Position: Catcher (for now)
Bats: Right

Batting: Jesus Montero is 16 years old. Jesus Montero's bat is now. His bat is among the best to come out of Latin America in history. He has 80 power on a 20-80 scale, which means he has the potential to hit 40+ home runs at the major league level. He has an advanced approach at the plate, meaning that he knows how to select his pitch. We are unsure about his strikeout and walk potential due to his lack of professional experience to this point. It is very difficult to judge too much about Montero at this stage in his development. The Yankees are already adjusting his swing to allow him to hit for power to all fields, which is something usually reserved for prospects much older than Montero.

Defense: Montero is a catcher. We know that. He probably will not remain a catcher. Montero has a few things going against him. First off, he is a big guy. At 16 years old, he will probably be larger than 6'3" 220 lbs by the time he reaches the majors. Catchers simply cannot survive at 240+ lbs. Second, he is no Joe Mauer. His defensive abilities are extremely raw and may or may not develop in to a good defensive catcher, but right now he doesn't show a lot of finesse behind the plate. The Yankees plan to keep him at catcher now, but Montero could end up a 1st baseman when all is said and done. If he does remain a catcher, his offense will be magnified tenfold.

Performance: Montero has not played any serious professional ball so far. He did hit a home run in his first professional game though.

2007 Outlook: There are two options for Montero. He could go to Charleston as a 17 year old, or he could be sent to the Gulf Coast League. I believe that Montero will not end up in Charleston. He is still learning English and the catching position, two traits that you do not want handling prize prospects such as McAllister and Betances. Montero is so incredibly young that rushing him could have poor effects. He will probably be sent to extended spring training and the GCL Yankees, where his bat will dominate. All of this said, if the Yankees decided to move him away from the catcher position, he will almost certainly be sent to Charleston. It seems a little early to do that though. When you hear things in interviews like "He hits like a big leaguer right now", you do expect prospects to be a little more rushed than expected.

Health: Montero is so young that nothing substantive can be said about his health. Incomplete.

Ceiling: The sky is the limit for Montero (a phrase that will certainly come up a lot with the next few propsects). I don't care what position he plays, because his bat has enough power to play him anywhere. A+.

Reaching his ceiling: He is so damn young that again nothing substantive can be said about it, except that power is traditionally the last tool to develop in a prospect. If he already has major league power, he is in good shape. Plate discipline will determine a lot for Montero. 20% Chance of reaching the majors.

Comparison: Again, it is way to early to compare him to anyone. He certainly has the ability to match or beat Javy Lopez's 2003 or some of Posada's best years.

My take: Some people would rate Montero a bit higher. I certainly agree with them that his ceiling is unlimited, but I cannot rate a 16 year old who never has played in the minor leagues higher than some of the guys on this list. He could very well be the #1 prospect in the Yankee system a year from now. He probably has more potential than even Tabata.