Jesus Montero, Future Toronto Blue Jay?
Is Jesus coming to Toronto?
According to the New York Daily News Jesus Montero is a key component of a deal for Doc Halladay
… a slugging catching prospect, is the key element of any deal with the Yankees as far as the Jays are concerned. Montero is the best hitter among the Yankees’ plethora of catching prospects – some scouts believe he has the potential to hit 40 home runs.
Jesus Montero (Born November 28th, 1989) was signed as a 16 year old by the Yankees during the 2006 international signing period for $1.6 million. Even then the prospect community was raving about Jesus. From a 2006 Baseball America article;
One director of international scouting for a National League club rated Montero’s power as an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and raved about his approach at the plate. “He was hitting home runs to center field in Valencia, which is pretty tough to do,” the scouting director said. “The question is where does he play? The body is pretty maxed out. He looks like Travis Hafner at age 16.”
Jesus got his first taste of organized ball in 2007, playing 33 games in the rookie level gulf coast league. He hit .280 in 120 plate appearances, with 3 HR, 6 doubles and 12 BB vs 18 K.
He advanced to Low A in 2008 and as a 19 year old he posted the following stats;
The following season he ranked #38 on the Baseball America pre-season prospect list.
2009 was nothing short of a breakout year. Montero started the season in the High A Flordia State League (FSL) and proceeded to destroy opposing pitchers to the tune of a .356 batting average and 8 HR in under 200 plate appearances. To put this into perspective this stat line is as good as Jay Bruce‘s breakout 2007 FSL campaign and Travis Snider‘s short 2008 FSL stint.
Montero then moved on to the stat happy Eastern League (AA) and hit 9 HR in about 180 plate appearances, all while improving his BB/K rate (14/21) and hitting .317.
By mid-season Montero jumped up to the #3 prospect in baseball (ahead of fellow catcher Buster Posey). His season ended early after breaking a finger while catching. This injury is not expected to be an issue going forward.
As we’ve seen, the book on Montero is extreme power potential, which still ranks as 80 on a typical 20 – 80 scouting scale. 80’s are rarely thrown around, with even masher Travis Snider’s power potential rating at only a 70 in past reports.Scouts are projecting 40+ HR per season. He also controls the strike zone at an extremely young age, with a strong BB/K in AA.
The only real knock on Jesus is his body type, which also brings into question his future behind the plate. Montero is already 225 LBs at 20 years old and is 6’4. His ability to control opponents running games is poor, although reports indicate that his movement, pitch handling and blocking ability are all improved. Regardless, many feel that even a position change to 1st or possibly DH still allows Montero to retain his lofty prospect rating due to his special bat. His lack of foot speed rules out a move to a corner outfield spot. If ever a lofty comp, many prospect followers are projecting Montero to be a Mike Piazza like backstop (ie his defence will be a negative but his huge batting run production will still give him strong overall value as an MLB catcher)
Montero should start the season in AAA if he remains with the Yanks. If he’s traded to Toronto there is a possibility that he could start the season at the major league level. It’s hard to believe the Jays would be able to command Montero and a Hughes/Joba type pitcher after the market setting Johan Santana trade of a few years past (a collection of B level prospects). Saviour jokes aside, Jesus would make a nice addition to the Jays roster and future plans, even if it costs us Doc Halladay