Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): Absolute masher with elite level hitting ability and power.
The Player: Jesus Montero (C, New York Yankees) – The Yankees gave Montero $2 million (the bonus was late reduced) as a 16-year old out of Venezuela and he has done nothing but hit since the minute he signed. He hit .280/.366/.421 as a 17-year old in the GCL and then raked to the tune of .326/.376/.491 as an 18-year old in full-season ball in 2008. He moved through High-A and Double-A in 2009 and moved on to Triple-A in 2010 where he smashed 34 doubles and 21 home runs in just 453 at-bats. He returned to Triple-A in 2011 before making his MLB debut with a .328/.406/.590 line in 61 at-bats and earning a spot on the Yankees post-season roster.
Body: Huge body that gets a bit soft at times and must be monitored to maintain conditioning. Body invokes some comparisons to Miguel Cabrera at the same age and he has tightened it some in recent seasons. He’ll never be pretty in a uniform but if he works to maintain his body it shouldn’t pose a problem long term.
Makeup: Has put in the work to improve his defense from really bad to just below-average and continues to put in extra time to refine his offensive game. Some scouts believe he was discouraged at another trip to Triple-A in 2011 and it showed in his effort level, but he rebounded well and earns generally high marks for his makeup.
Hit: A natural hitter he has excellent hands and amazing hand-eye coordination that enables him to square balls routinely. He can drive any pitch in any part of the strike zone. Has refined his approach to reduce the number of pitches he chases out of the zone. Has a quiet load and good balance throughout his swing. Uses all fields well and is willing to take a walk. Should be a true plus-plus hitter. Grade – 70/80
Power: Generates power from outstanding bat speed and innate ability to square the ball. Some scouts would like him to stay back more and really turn on the ball on the inner half. His natural power is to right-center field and he has the strength to drive the ball out from pole to pole. Could add more loft to swing to increase home run output but should be a high doubles, high home run slugger as it stands now; peaking at 35+ doubles and 30+ home runs. Grade (raw power) – 70/70
Arm: Best defensive tool but the raw strength plays down because of his lengthy release and poor footwork. Grade – 50/50
Fielding: Poor defender in every respect. Doesn’t receive well, boxes many pitches and is prone to passed balls, particularly on breaking balls in the dirt. Has a slow transfer and release on throws and his footwork is messy in every regard. Game still moves very quickly for him. Will never be better than below-average behind the plate and really isn’t a viable defensive catcher for more than 30-40 games a year. Grade – 30/40
Speed: Poor runner that ranges from 20-grade to 30-grade home-to-first times and could slow down as his body completes maturation and he gets older. If he catches regularly in the big leagues he could slow down more rapidly. Has solid instincts on the bases but still gets in trouble and clogs the bases at times. Grade – 30/20
Summation: Offensive potential carries the profile. Should hit .300+ with plus-plus doubles and home run power and will be a run producer in the middle of any lineup. Catching has not progressed as much as the Yankees suggest at times and he profiles best as a DH or might handle first base if given the opportunity. Truly elite offensive talent with All-Star potential.
Relative Risk: Low. With the appropriate understanding that he is a hitter first and anything else a distant second, Montero carries very little risk at this point. He has raked at every level he has played and he is ready to do the same in the big leagues.
Future: With the departure of Jorge Posada, the door is open for Montero to become the everyday DH in New York. He should hit from Opening Day forward and though he likely won’t be required to, he could hit in the middle of the lineup immediately. He extends the Yankees lineup even further and could be pushing for All-Star births by 2013.