Baseball America awarded Rafael Montero the distinction of best control in our system — surprising? Not at all.
If you’ve been keeping tabs on my crazy rambling, I love pitchers that work by commanding their arsenal with expertise. It seems that as the days go on, more and more players are able to throw the ball hard — but can they pitch? The ones that can, of course, turn out to be pretty good — see Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.
Of course, not everyone is gifted with a 98 MPH fastball and some guys will never throw that hard in their life. That doesn’t discount them however — and guys like Rafael Montero and Gabriel Ynoa go a long way in proving that. I’ll save my rambling on Ynoa for another day, and stick to talking about Montero today. Montero is knocking on the door to the major leagues at this point and if this team were contending, I’d pencil him in as part of our rotation from the beginning of the season. I know it would mean sacrificing a year of having him under “team control”, but that kind of stuff goes by the boards when you’re trying to build a contender and not trying to only save money.
Montero’s low walk numbers are well documented — a 1.7 BB/9 mark in almost 350 MilB innings, including a 2.0 BB/9 last year across Binghamton and Las Vegas. Although he struggled early in Triple-A, Montero adjusted to the atmosphere and began to pitch as dominantly as he did in Binghamton, finishing his ’13 tenure in Vegas with a 3.05 ERA in 88.2 innings.
It’s certainly possible for a pitcher to get by on his command — but Montero has the benefit of a pretty sick arsenal as well. I know that scouts are sometimes down on his breaking pitches, but I think he is one of those players that will be able to transcend all that. He has sometimes reached back to get his fastball into the mid 90s, but it’s the late life and his ability to throw it anywhere in the strike zone that makes it effective. His strikeout rates were always healthy at any level of baseball — his worst mark was a 6.8 K/9 in Savannah — and there’s a lot more to Montero than the numbers will show. His bulldog mentality on the mound gives a lot of Mets fans hope that they’ve found a future stud in this one.
If all goes well, we’ll see him in Flushing during the 2014 season, and I’ll drink to that.
(Photo Credit: Gordon Donovan)