Things can change quickly in a year. At this time in 2012, just a year ago, Rafael Montero was making his second start for Savannah, in a-ball after 11 starts in short season leagues – in the Gulf Coast League and the Appy League in 2011. Now, he’s rolling in AA. His line Tuesday: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. In two starts this year in AA, he’s fanned 15 and HAS NOT WALKED a batter while throwing 72% of his pitches (126 of 176) for strikes.
At the beginning of 2012, Montero was primarily a fastball/changeup guy. His slider improved over the year, and he was clearly working on it in spring training, although the action and location on the pitch is inconsistent.
Fans in last night’s game thread are already asking about a promotion (both to AAA and the big leagues). Hold on. The Mets have moved the now 22-year old Montero as quickly as any pitching prospect in the system. He made 12 starts in Savannah and eight in the Florida State League. This is essentially the same rate through as the “polished” collegiate arms the Mets have drafted in the first four rounds: Cory Mazzoni made 12 starts in St. Lucie at the start of the 2012 season; Logan Verrett made six and Tyler Pill made 10 starts at advanced-A at the end of 2012. Montero is not going anywhere for a while. He still needs to work on his slider. If he’s pitching lights out, there’s no reason he cannot earn a mid-season promotion to AAA, but that’s a problem for July – most likely after a dozen starts minimum in AA.
RF Cesar Puello was 2-for-3 with a strikeout and is now 5-for-16 (.313) with two walks and five strikeouts after five games.
CF Alonzo Harris extended his season-opening hitting streak to six games by going 1-for-4 with a stolen base, his first of 2013. Harris has four extra-base hits to Puello’s one.