Danny Knobler of ESPN writes that while Noah Syndergaard is the New York Mets pitching prospect that everyone has wanted to talk about, it is Rafael Montero who is the one most prepared to pitch in the major leagues now.
“His maturity is beyond his years as a pitcher,” Mets manager Terry Collins said as he anxiously awaited Montero’s big league debut on Wednesday night at Citi Field against the New York Yankees.
Montero isn’t just any kid just up from the minors, says Knobler, who scouts agree is most polished and ready to go with nothing left to prove in the minors.
The 23-year old righty, made 24 Triple-A starts at the very cruel Las Vegas, and amazingly defied the odds by posting a 3.25 ERA and a 1.212 WHIP with 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings pitched in the notorious hitting haven.
Knobler adds that there is also Montero’s personality which was on display when he arrived in the Mets clubhouse Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. He says that Montero looks like he belongs.
When Montero was asked if he felt ready for tonight, he smiled and said through an interpreter, “I’ve felt ready for a while now.”
Here we are yet another Mets pitching prospect about to make his major league debut, and he brings with him maybe just as much hype as when Thor will finally makes his way to Queens later this summer. But can Rafael Montero handle the pressure of pitching in one of the most important series for the fans regarding bragging rights between Mets and Yankees and if so, will he be as dominant as the expectations may dictate.
No matter what happens between now and October, the fans use these games to measure up against their cross-town rivals, with the hope that their team will come out on top. And so far the Mets have lived up to it by winning their last six meetings against the Yankees and the last two in grand fashion outscoring the Bronx Bombers, 9-7 and 12-7. The Mets pitching staff may not have been as dominating as their bats in this series, but that may all change on Wednesday night when Montero finally takes the mound in a big league game at Citi Field.
There can be an argument that no one knows what Montero will bring to the team, but just as when Zack Wheeler made his debut in 2013 and even Matt Harvey the year prior, the anticipation is what Montero have done so far, can translate to helping the team win. Even if he isn’t as dominant as Harvey was, the end result can be the same, winning baseball.
There isn’t a better opportunity for Montero to showcase his talents, than to do so against the Yankees and the pressure does mount as he will be measured against the previous Mets pitching prospect debuts, especially the current 18.1 scoreless innings streak held by Matt Harvey, Collin McHugh and Zack Wheeler, in which they combined in their respective major league debuts.
The Dominican native who looks to live up to all the expectations, even has his new skipper excited about the impending debut, ”The Dominican players nicknamed him ‘Little Pedro’ because he’s got a feel for it.” Terry Collins tells Brian Hoch of MLB.com, “Those are big statements. I don’t think he’s going to be intimidated. Obviously he might be a little anxious, but I think once he gets out there, he’s going to be who he is, because that’s his mentality.”
The sky is the limit for Montero and no matter what the outcome may be, we know that today is the start of the future finally arriving in Queens. This is just the beginning, especially with Jacob deGrom in the pen, who is sure to make his debut if not tonight then in a few days.
“All of the sudden, it brings energy to the clubhouse. They’re very excited to be here. They had a long flight. You’d have never known it. They’re flying a mile high right now, and some of the guys feed off that,” Collins tells beat writer Anthony DiComo.
There isn’t a better time to be a Mets fan than right now and I am excited to say, Welcome to the first of many Happy Montero Days!