Rafael Montero is MLB’s most underrated prospect

Michael Baron, Contributor

Sam Dykstra of MiLB.com says Mets RHP prospect Rafael Montero is the most underrated prospect in MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list.

“Any talk about Montero, who owns a plus fastball with an improving breaking ball and changeup, starts with his control,” Dykstra said. “I’m not saying Montero deserves a top-50 spot, but I’d take him over [Brewers' Jimmy] Nelson and [Cleveland's] Trevor Bauer at this point.”

Montero is ranked as MLB.com’s 85th best prospect for 2014.

Rafael Montero 1 (BARON)

The organization has been particularly impressed with Montero’s command over the last couple of seasons. They’ve generally felt Montero has been ahead of the curve in the developmental process, as he’s showed impressive command of not only his fastball, but his secondary pitches as well. While his off-speed looked electric, it was still a little raw when I saw him pitch in camp last year, but it greatly improved over the course of the season.

Montero has accumulated enough innings above Double-A to qualify for a promotion. In fact, I’ve heard over the course of the offseason he had been considered for a spot in the rotation on Opening Day, as they feel he is big league ready right now. However, since they’ve signed John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka, it appears that’s a long shot (and might’ve been anyway considering the “Super Two” issue), but that could be a good thing. Montero only came to the organization in 2011, so he does lack years of experience in the minor leagues. Another few months at Las Vegas, with the possibility of enjoying more success before getting here, can only serve as a benefit in the final stages of his development.


Read more: Rounding The Bases: Top 100 talk (MiLB.com)




63 comments
Devor de Pascalis
Devor de Pascalis

Finally. I've been saying this forever. He has better numbers in AA than Thor and in AAA than Wheeler AND Harvey. Now, I get that he doesn't have a blazing fastball, but come on, neither recent HOFers Maddux and Glavine did. Pitching is all about command. The kid can spot his fastball. Let's give him a fair chance in spring training and let's start cutting him some slack!

joebloe
joebloe

Baron once again shows his lack of baseball knowledge. From what scouts have said Montero is probably better than Lannan or Dice-K right now...therefore shoudn't be close to a "long shot"...what's said is the front office tends to think like Baron and Cerrone at times...hopefully Montero is in the rotaiton to start the year...he's earned it.

Herb Goldstein
Herb Goldstein

I totally agree that Montero is seriously underrated. I believe that he is major league ready right now, and will wind up as a solid #3 in someone's rotation in the not too distant future. Having a solid #3 pitching in the #5 slot in the Mets rotation bodes well for the team.

The fact that he and Thor are supposedly on the same track poses problems for the Mets, unless Sandy is willing to trade off a starter or two in July or Mejia has health problems or both. Assuming Jenrry wins the #5 spot in the rotation and remains healthy through the summer, w3e have a rotation of Colon, Niese, Wheeler, Gee and Mejia. If all are pitching to form, who is the odd man out? If Mejia is 8-5 at the All Star break, can you then move him to the pen? Do you trade Colon with a year and a half left on his contract, if he is having success? Or Niese? Or Gee? Could they possibly go to a 6 man rotation? 

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

"While his off-speed looked electric, it was still a little raw when I saw him pitch in camp last year, but it greatly improved over the course of the season. "

With a statement like that, I think we either need to know your legitimate talent evaluation background or who else is giving that information.

eric88
eric88

The Mets have plenty of pitching now. Time to trade Neise for a SS. He is the weak link in our rotation.

eric88
eric88

Once again a Mets Baseball Decision is instead over ruled by money. Montero is ready, but we have to lose games with the two Minor league contract guys they signed due to Montero's service time. Shawn Markham [1-10] type situation all over again.

Tom Ardese
Tom Ardese

I've been saying this forever.Guys who throw hard and more importantly throw strikes always win over and over again. Look at Dillon Gee. He throws 89-91mph and he's a winner. Why?  He throws strikes consistently. Montero has a real shot to be big time. He has impeccable control. I see him as a number 2 starter type with the ability to put the other team on lock down. I'll say it again, show me a Met prospect with better pitching stats at AAA (Las Vegas) than Montero. Harvey(Buffalo), Wheeler and anyone else you can think of don't compare. This guy is for real!!

Robby Johnson
Robby Johnson

I'd hope Montero could be one guy this team looks past the Super-2 with if he winds up being the best #5 in camp.  If you're going to call it a competition, truly make it a fair one.  Unfortunately that's not always the case.

I can also see Montero being a guy moved in a trade within the next year, which complicates things as well.  He could always be lights out from the get-go and have that much more value, or he could potentially tank it and lessen his value.  A team might value him more with less service time as well.

There's interesting factors at play, but at the end of the day I'd like to see him win it if he truly has the best camp out of the lot.

jlga
jlga

Great. He's a top pitching prospect. I hope he gets used to losing a lot of 2-1 games. This club had no offense in 2013 and this year they'll be just as bad.

5 of their starting eight will be lucky if they hit .240, and that's not counting Lagarres, who could hit .300 or hit .185.

They are pathetic.

Carlos Sanchez
Carlos Sanchez

Nelson cruz and some bullpen tejada lets see one more for him

Phil Mancini
Phil Mancini

Over 76% of Mets fans think the club is moving in the right direction? I didn't know the Wilpons had that many employees and relatives. 

Macacawitz
Macacawitz

If this is the case you wonder why they're playing Weekend at Bernie's, bringing in stiffs like Lannan and Dice K. 

Mr. SERCH
Mr. SERCH

i have been a huge fan of this kid since we started hearing his name. He is DEFINITELY very underrated, and i feel he is ready to be our number 5 starter. He will earn the job out of ST, but i'm sure they won't give it to him right away, which, as mentioned in the post, isnt necessarily a bad thing since hes not had a lot of innings yet. 

But In March, when we see him whiffin and bafflin batters in exhibition games, there's gonna be a great clamoring to get this kid up to the bigs asap, im tellin you

I'm excited about all of the organizational pitching depth...but where are the bats? I can't be optimistic about the direction of the organization until I know we can score some runs. I'm sick of 2-1 losses, and I'm not convinced Granderson and Chris Young will cure our ills. 

hankincolo
hankincolo

I'm eager to see what he does during ST. I know he impressed David Wright last ST.  David singled him out for praise when asked about the prospects.

paqza
paqza

@Herb Goldstein  Mejía is not a reliever. He has repeatedly stated that he prefers starting due to the routine; he feels uncomfortable coming out of the pen and the numbers bear it out. He's always been much better as a starter.

joebloe
joebloe

@BringBackDaveTelghe His backround baseball knowledge comes from being a photographer....that counts right?!?!?!? But seriously Baron has no clue what he's watching when he watches a baseball game.

paqza
paqza

@eric88 Niese arguably has the best combination of stuff, young age, and veteran experience on the staff. He has more experience than Wheeler, has been healthier than Mejía, has better stuff than Gee, and is what, 14 years younger than Colón? I think it's hilariously misinformed that you think Niese is the weakest link, especially considering his performance since coming up. Not much of a stats/results guy, are you?

mike23
mike23

@eric88 let's not get to crazy too soon, these are still prospects and Niese although not great has shown to be a pretty dependable lefty starter with room to still get better. 

zoddie
zoddie

So you don't want to see Gee, Wheeler, Colon, Niese, and Mejia? What does that have to do with money? They SPENT money in Colon so they wouldn't have to rush these kids.

mike23
mike23

@eric88 I think sandy has said that their prospects are about ready to be up with the mets so if they out pitch those minor league contract guys in spring training I think they have a chance to come up with the club, if they show they still need some work they will be called up at some point this year. 

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

Dillon Gee is a "winner"?

Besides maybe getting a smiley face sticker on your scorecard or something, I'm not sure what that's based on. He's been a mediocre guy coming off a tremendous half season that we absolutely need to see more of. As much as I am rooting for Gee I expect his era to be much closer to 4 then 3.

Mark Kelly
Mark Kelly

@Tom ArdeseI'd like to disagree. Show me the top 50 pitchers in baseball who are Right Handed. Then indicate what their average fastball velocity was last year. 


Just take a look at the average fastball velocity by pitchers last season:

http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=sta&lg=all&qual=y&type=4&season=2013&month=0&season1=2013&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=4%2cd


There is a Direct correlation between Fastball and Good Pitcher, but there is obviously more needed.


A lefty can get away with a lower MPH Fastball.

paqza
paqza

@Robby Johnson  Another example of Baron not knowing what he's talking about. The Mets will likely not have a problem going Super Two with Montero due to the type of pitcher he is; however, we will absolutely not give up the extra year of control (which we shouldn't). If the player comes up in April, we get the player for 6 years. If the player comes up after April, we get the player for an extra year. Period. Super Two deadline is much later - sometime in June, most likely.

Tarheel11
Tarheel11

@Robby Johnson Everybody needs to open their eyes. This team has proven to be run first and foremost by financial considerations. No way they let Montero break camp unless all the other options are hurt. They'd rather get that extra year of control at the end than give him the 2/3 months at the beginning of the year. That's the new norm for this franchise. 

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

I'd say the bigger problem is the lack of OBP guys in the lineup. It's fine having a couple .240 guys in the lineup if you make up for it with either them getting walks or other people in the lineup having a higher then average Obp.

paqza
paqza

Nelson Cruz? A guy who can't play defense who could only hit because he was on PEDs and playing in Arlington? NO THANK YOU.

tommets
tommets

@Phil Mancini If you've paid attention every time they've put that poll up since the end of this year it's been the same percentages every time.

Sylvan Migdal
Sylvan Migdal

@Macacawitz Injuries. Most teams wind up using 8 or 9 different starting pitchers in a season. It'd be foolish to go into a year with just your starting five and a couple prospects for depth.

Christopher Soto
Christopher Soto

@Macacawitz Competition is camp is always good. As long as we don't BREAK camp with Lannan and Dice K I'll be ok.

The Feels band
The Feels band

@Mr. SERCH I'd rather have Mejia. As much as I think Montero is good, Mejia's got better stuff than Montero. He just does. 

mets2014
mets2014

@Mr. SERCH I don't think he will see the majors until the summer...they have brought in competition for mejia in the form of lannan and dice-k, which pretty much guarantees it...they pretty much stay the course in terms of promoting their young pitchers

hankincolo
hankincolo

Keep rooting for the young pitchers to succeed. If they do, and they should, the Mets will deal them for some better hitters.

nagel100
nagel100

 trading pitching for bats is clearly the answer in the long run.  i was impressed with Mejia  last year when he started and that was with chips in his elbow.  at 100% he is a keeper.


add in Noah and Montero and if Harvey returns to form we could have 8 starters.  Plus we have other projects below them in DeGroom, Matz and Fullmer.  Trade pitching for offense next year or this year at the deadline.

The Feels band
The Feels band

@mike23 @eric88 I Like Niese, too, but him and Gee are finna leave when and if these young guys step up. I'm ready for Steven Matz to be our lefty ace. :) 

Robby Johnson
Robby Johnson

@Tarheel11 @Robby Johnson I guess we'll see.  I won't be too mad if Mejia earns it either though.  He's had his injury concerns, but he pitched well enough last year for me to have confidence in him.

Mark Kelly
Mark Kelly

@BringBackDaveTelgheThey were 23rd in the majors in Runs Scored last year and 10th of 15 in the NL. You have to believe that they will be better this year offensively then last. 


Granderson will equal Byrd and then some because Byrd only played 117 games for the mets. LF and CF will be as good. Murphy and Wright are there. 1st and SS while gigantic ? can't be worse. And D'Arnaud should be better. 


Overall i'd say they will end up in the middle of the pack.

Mr. SERCH
Mr. SERCH

@mets2014 @Mr. SERCH yeah, i agree...im sayin though i think he will "DESERVE" the spot, but they wont give it to him regardless. I agree, sounds like they're set on mejia competing with dicek and lannan...


i think it's a good thing though too, cuz the PCL and Vegas is tough for pitchers, but he showed he can handle it last year, and if he goes out and dominates, it'll prove he's ready for the big show and can make an immediate impact

Mr. SERCH
Mr. SERCH

@nagel100 I think that's the plan. I dont think Sandy goes out and trades noah, montero, etc without first showcasing them in the majors. Then, if they come up and succeed, we will have such an advantage---a handful of young kids who are cheap and have proven they can pitch in the ML, then another handful of young but veteran pitchers (Niese, gee), as well as a proven older one (colon) to package and trade for almost anyone.


If Mejia does well, along with Noah and Montero, you can create any package with those 3, niese, gee, harvey, wheeler, colon, degromm, etc....not saying that i want to trade wheeler or harvey, but im saying that if we WANTED to build a strong package for virtually any hitter, we have the abilty..

fourwedges
fourwedges

@nagel100 I agree with most everything you said, but I do believe DeGroom is a bit overrated.  I think we hear his name too much considering his fairly average minor league numbers.

mets2014
mets2014

@nagel100 I'm hoping they trade away the likes of Colon, Gee & Niese and hold onto the young arms...there will be plenty of teams interested in major league pitchers come the trade deadline and that's when alderson is at his best

paqza
paqza

@The Feels @mike23 @eric88  Let's not forget that Niese pitched more innings in 2013 with a shoulder injury than Matz has pitched, combined, in the 5 seasons since getting drafted. I'd love to see Matz in the rotation but let's let him take it level by level while showing good health before putting him ahead of Niese.

Robby Johnson
Robby Johnson

@tommets Yup, totally agree.  I want to see Montero or Mejia in that 5th spot, with Lannan hopefully at AAA and used as a possible fill-in starter or swingman lefty down the road.


And I agree with competition being good as well.  Unfortunately the best pitcher doesn't always win the job, though.