Baseball America has been rolling out some of their minor league postseason awards with the end of the season in sight. Yesterday, they named Byron Buxton their MiLB Player of the Year, and they released their Minor League All-Star team this morning. BA handed out first and second team honors, with Rafael Montero being the lone Met prospect to be honored. The Triple-A pitcher grabbed the final starting pitcher’s slot on the first-team. Here’s what Matt Eddy had to say about the young right-hander:
Minuscule rates for walks (35 in 155 innings) and home runs (six in 27 starts) allowed Montero to survive a second half spent pitching in the hostile environs of Las Vegas, where he managed to go 3-2, 2.87 in nine home starts. Signed out of the Dominican Republic at age 20, Montero mastered all four levels of the full-season minors in two years and struck out more batters this season (150) than more-heralded Mets pitching prospects Noah Syndergaard this year or Zack Wheeler in 2012.
While Montero did strike out more hitters this season than Syndergaard (133 Ks), his fellow top pitching prospect only threw 117.2 innings between St. Lucie and Binghamton. That’s almost 40 innings less than what Rafael threw in 2013. So, it’s still something to note, but Thor would have easily surpassed Montero in the strikeout department if he wasn’t closely monitored for his innings limit throughout the month of August.
However, comparing Montero’s 2013 to Wheeler’s 2012 season is a little more apples-to-apples. Zack threw 149 innings between Binghamton and Buffalo last season, striking out 148 hitters, while walking 59. As you can see above, Montero struck out 150 and walked 35 in 155.1 innings pitched between Binghamton and Las Vegas.
That’s not to say that Montero is going to perform better than Wheeler in the big leagues, but it’s a testament to how polished and refined Montero is at this stage in his development. As Eddy noted, it’s only taking the Dominican hurler two full years to rise through four levels of the minor leagues — an incredibly impressive feat.
What the Mets decide to do with their big league rotation in 2014 will largely depend on Matt Harvey‘s visit with Dr. James Andrews on Monday, but Montero should be in the conversation, regardless of Harvey’s immediate fate.
He impressed in spring training last year, and adapted very well to the Pacific Coast League, continuing the solid season he was putting together in Binghamton. He was also the starter for the World Team in the Futures Game last July.
I’m excited for Montero to get his chance in the big leagues; his control and poise are two things every rotation needs to be fortified for any type of run at the playoffs.