"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Catch as Catch Can

Pitchers and catchers don’t officially report for a few days still, but Russell Martin and Jesus Montero are already working out in Florida. Here’s John Harper, writing in the Daily News about the kid Montero:

Baseball America editor Jim Callis, who ranks minor-league prospects based on seeing them himself and talking to more scouts and minor-league evaluators than just about anyone, says he would have a hard time dealing Montero.

“To me he’s the best all-around hitter in the minor leagues,” Callis said recently. “He might be another Mike Piazza, the way he hits for average and power. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t have a great career as a hitter.”

…But can Montero catch? Callis says the answer might be a matter of how much a team is willing to sacrifice defense for offense at the position.

“It’s not like he’s a total butcher back there,” Callis said. “He has a strong arm, but his transfer when he throws is slow, and he’s not the best receiver in the world. He’s not real athletic, but he has worked hard to become more flexible behind the plate.

“Overall he’s a little below average defensively, and I’m not sold that in five years Montero will be a catcher.

Yeah, the Yanks have issues with their starting rotation but there is plenty to be excited about and it starts with the Jesus.


1 Jon DeRosa   ~  Feb 9, 2011 9:21 am

al, how many games will montero play with the yanks this year? and does he get traded by the july deadline?

2 rbj   ~  Feb 9, 2011 9:41 am

I'm willing to risk one or two steals a game if Montero knocks in a run.

3 monkeypants   ~  Feb 9, 2011 9:45 am

("...he’s the best all-around hitter in the minor leagues" + "...another Mike Piazza") - "Overall he’s a little below average defensively" = starting ML catcher.


("...he’s the best all-around hitter in the minor leagues" + "...another Mike Piazza") - "Overall he’s a little below average defensively" > Francisco Cervelli

4 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 9, 2011 9:45 am

2) Good question. You don't want to waste a bat like that but sounds like they don't have the confidence to let him catch too much. Good problem to have, but since Jorge and Martin are short-timers, looks like the Yankees' patience will be tried. If he's as good as Callis suggests, I wouldn't trade him unless you are getting an ace in return.

5 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2011 10:05 am

When considering Montero, I really think we all need to even forget the fact that he is a catcher for a moment and focus in on his unique hitting ability for a man (boy) his age. When you start hearing names like Manny Ramirez, Mike Piazza, and Frank Thomas thrown around as comps, you can't help but get excited. If he does turn out to be a catcher, great, but if not, his bat alone could be incredibly valuable, so unless you are getting someone like Felix in return, I can't see a trade that makes sense.

6 Jon DeRosa   ~  Feb 9, 2011 10:06 am

it's still a massive game of chicken. can the yanks get "catcher" value for him without proving he can play catcher at the big league level? and if they yanks prove he can catch, why on earth would they trade him?

i think the mariners rejecting the yanks offer last july set montero on a collision course with the yanks starting catching job. the only way to deviate course is for cashman to trade him for sub-catcher value, which i'm sure he is loathe to do.

7 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2011 10:06 am

[1] I think the more games he plays in the majors, the less likely it will be that he gets traded.

8 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2011 10:07 am

[6] Speaking of the Mariners, I have a feeling there decision to take Smoak over Montero will wind up being what most people remember about the events of last July.

9 Jon DeRosa   ~  Feb 9, 2011 10:07 am

[5] Where do you play him? Send into the AAA outfield and see what happens? Start a young kid at DH? How would the Yanks get him in the lineup?

10 Jon DeRosa   ~  Feb 9, 2011 10:12 am

[8] Hope so, though if the Rangers won the Series, nobody would soon forget that Lee singlehandedly shifted the balance of power in MLB. But they didn't and he lost twice in the series, so Montero could still be the big news.

11 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2011 10:26 am

[9] I think he should start the season catching 2 of 5 games and DHing 1 or 2, but it seems as if the Yankees are locked into Martin and Posada, respectively. Maybe they can still work him into that arrangement, but I would prefer having him break camp than spend more time in AAA.

12 Jon DeRosa   ~  Feb 9, 2011 10:30 am

[11] I would definitely sign up for that. If/when he goes to AAA, part of me will feel like the Yanks got their bluff called. That they really don't think he can catch and the other teams know it.

But if he gets an assignment like you described, Iwould be so psyched, because it would show the yanks actually think it might work out.

13 rbj   ~  Feb 9, 2011 11:16 am

To me, what's more important for Montero as a defensive catcher is his ability to call a game. If you know the players on the other teams and know your pitchers and are able to keep the two aligned to put you in position to win, it means fewer men on base so you don't have to worry about the running game.

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