As MMN continues to shift into winter mode, we welcome another weekly feature, called Prospect Face-Off. Each week, our writers will be given a match-up of two Mets minor league prospects, and will have to state their case as to why they prefer one over the other. In our inaugural edition, our staff was posed with this question:
Who would you rather have start the season in the Mets’ rotation come 2014: Jacob deGrom, or Rafael Montero?
This summer I had the opportunity to watch both deGrom and Montero pitch in Binghamton. Although Montero was lights out, they both impressed. From an organizational perspective, it might make more sense to use deGrom as a rotation this year, allowing an additional year in Triple-A for Montero to develop, thus providing a clearer picture about how best to use his talent. Yet, the way I look at it, a weary fan base needs reasons to get excited about the 2014 Mets. Starting pitching is our cause for hope and we need to assemble the best cadre of young arms to serve in that capacity. Montero might not have the near triple-digit heat of a Harvey or Wheeler but the kid can top the radar at 94 mph, has a good pitching mix, and most importantly, can locate his pitches with pinpoint accuracy. Verdict: Montero
I agree with John on this one. I’d rather have Montero because he’s more apt to control the strike zone on a consistent basis. After a rough start in Las Vegas, Montero figured things out and settled down quickly to post a 3.05 ERA in 88.2 innings pitched with the 51s. While he doesn’t consistently throw in the upper-90s, he knows how to use his talents to be successful. His career K-rate stands at 8.4 per every nine innings, while his BB/9 for his minor league days stands at 1.7. He profiles as a middle or back-of-the-rotation kind of pitcher, and I want to have someone with his kind of control in that position. If he consistently goes deep into games, it in turn takes pressure off the bullpen and keeps them more rested than in years past. Out of these two, I think deGrom needs a little more seasoning because he’s still new to pitching and lost a year due to Tommy John surgery. Verdict: Montero
Even as a big fan of the jump and success deGrom had when he got the emergency promotion to AAA, the edge goes to Montero. While deGrom started off hot and Montero cold, the reverse happened in their final ten or so starts. The argument of “Oh, well, deGrom was getting tired” can’t particularly be used considering Montero pitched about 10 more innings than deGrom. For me, it’s how they finished their season. While both Montero and deGrom’s final 10 gms featured 15 walks each, the biggest sign of their successes is in the following: Montero gave up 14 ERs in those final 10 starts to deGrom’s absurd 32 ERs; Montero gave up only 46 hits to deGrom’s 66. deGrom began to falter and get smacked around more, despite being pretty good at pounding the strike zone as evidenced by his 15 BBs over 10gms. It’s Montero’s stats that shined over the final 10 when compared to deGrom– and they both pitched similar amounts of time in Vegas. Edge easily goes to Montero, as I think deGrom was less equipped for the leap to AAA than Montero initially was. That is to say, we’ll definitely see them both next year. Verdict: Montero
This is a much tougher question today than it would have been coming into the 2013 season. While Montero is widely considered to be the better prospect, deGrom has certainly catapulted himself in to the Mets’ plans. Both pitchers strengths is their ability to limit walks while missing a respectable amount of bats– although Montero has a slight edge in both departments. Also, while deGrom is the older of the two, he’s younger in pitching age, having not pitched full time until his senior season of college and missing more than year due to Tommy John. In the end I’m going to take Montero because I think he has the higher ceiling and better chance of shouldering the innings load in 2014. Verdict: Montero
While deGrom is a solid prospect, Montero is the clear choice here. Montero is a better prospect than deGrom and I believe he’s ready for the majors. Montero was phenomenal this season for Las Vegas and Binghamton. He finished the season with a 12-7 record, and owed a 2.78 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 155 innings pitched. Conversely, deGrom was not as dominant going 7-7 with a 4.51 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 147 innings pitched. Verdict: Montero
There you have it; the staff unanimously selects Montero as the prospect they’d like in the 2014 starting rotation for the New York Mets. Who would you rather have: Jacob deGrom or Rafael Montero?