Some people believe that we were put on this planet to serve a purpose. They believe that we were all put here for a reason. Well if that is the case, Rafael Montero was put on this planet for one reason: to pitch.
Montero was going through the Trenton Thunder lineup with surgical precision tonight, prompting this tweet from Trenton’s beat writer and former MMO Alumni Matt Kardos:
In my three seasons of covering minor league baseball, tonight’s effort by Rafael Montero is the most impressive that ive seen
— Matt Kardos ⚾ (@mattkardos) May 8, 2013
Montero was incredible over six innings of work, striking out five consecutive hitters at one point. Montero was painting the corners and was working quickly. He was in a rhythm, and the Trenton hitters were doing very little to break that rhythm. They let Montero work at his own pace, and it was a major advantage tonight. The difference in the major leagues, when Montero gets there, will be that hitters will step out of the box to break his rhythm.
Through his first six innings of work, Montero had thrown 74 pitches, 55 for strikes. He gave up one hit, one walk, while striking out eight. It wasn’t until the seventh inning where Trenton started to get to Montero. Montero started the inning off by giving up a lead off walk, and it seemed to spiral after that. He ended the game giving up three hits and three earned runs.
The most impressive thing about this start by Montero is that it came off the heels of his worst start of the year. As I stated in this morning’s morning report, this game was an important test for Montero. The entire Mets organization was watching to see how he would respond after last week’s start where he gave up ten runs. Paul DePodesta commented recently that Montero needed to face some adversity. This was Montero’s first taste of adversity, and he passed this test with flying colors. How these young pitchers bounce back after bad starts is a big step in their development. Montero showed everyone that he was for real tonight.
Montero is special. Watching him work through those first six innings was a sight to see. I know most people were watching Matt Harvey dominate the Chicago White Sox, but this kid Montero, he’s pretty good too. I try to avoid comparing prospects to established superstars and all-time greats. I know Montero has drawn some comparisons to Pedro Martinez. I have tried like heck not to accept that comparison, but the truth is, I’m starting to see it.
He knows how to pitch, and he knows how to get batters out. The way he works the ball on the corners is completely masterful. The way he gets hitters to chase pitches out of the zone is equally impressive. Montero is scary good right now, and he’s only going to get better.
Here are some quotes from Matt Kardos’ post game interviews after yesterday’s game:
Montero on bouncing back strong after a bad start last week: “I feel happy because I am progressing as a pitcher and that is big for me.”
Montero on if he ran out of gas in 7th: “I haven’t gotten tired so far this year. I just have a pitch count and that’s why they took me out.”
Montero on the go-ahead hit by Slade Heathcott: “I don’t think it was a bad pitch, he just put it in play and you have to give props to the hitter.”
Thunder Manager, Tony Franklin, on Montero: “Montero is very good, the kid has some very good mechanics that allows him to throw the ball well.”
Slade Heathcott on Montero: “He filled the zone up. That’s the toughest thing. I think at one point he had something like 60 strikes and 20 balls. I think he was anywhere from 90-95. Nothing overpowering, his slider was decent but he filled the zone up & worked both sides of the plate.”
I really can’t stress enough how impressive Montero was yesterday. It was easily the best start I saw from a pitcher this year. Most people were busy watching Matt Harvey, and didn’t get to watch Montero, and the box score doesn’t give Montero any justice.
Watching Montero attack the hitters and be able to put the ball where he wanted made it look like he was a man among boys — he just looks like he doesn’t belong (in a good way). He has fluid and smooth mechanics that almost seem to lull the hitters to sleep at the plate. Before they know it, Montero’s 94 mph fastball just went by and nipped the black ever so slightly…Strike Three! This guy is the goods.