Martino and Paul dePodesta: No Rush on Rafael Montero

Rafael Montero ST 13 (Baron)In the Daily News this morning, Andy Martino catches up with Mets VP of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Paul dePodesta about Rafael Montero.

Montero made four starts above A-ball with AA Binghamton. They’ve been four terrific starts. He’s 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA with 27 strikeouts against one (!) walk in 22.2 innings with just 15 hits allowed and a .183 opponents’ batting average. He’s fourth in the Eastern League in ERA, tops in WHIP (0.71), with the lowest walk rate among starters by innings pitched and is tied for fourth in strikeouts.

Generally, players who have made four appearances above a-ball do not have much success in the big leagues. And no, Jose Fernandez, who has two plus pitches right now – fastball and slider – is not a good comparison for Montero.  dePodesta made this point, about the value of minor league innings for Montero explicitly:

“With a guy in his position — we’re talking about like four starts in Double-A — we really don’t talk about the future with those guys, in terms of the ultimate future,” DePodesta says.

“The future is more like, ‘OK, what are we going to work on in your next start, or your next handful of starts?’ We really try to keep those guys in the present.  He just needs more experience at this point, and I don’t think we have an idea right now in terms of time frames, or where he falls on a depth chart. That’s not something we’re concerned about.”

Emphasis added.

Still, if he’s going to get big league hitters out, based on what I saw in spring training he needs to improve his slider.

dePodesta seems to agree.

On what Montero needs to improve:

“His fastball is very advanced right now, but the secondary pitches need to continue to get better.”

One final point that I think is important. When asked to cite examples of pitchers who have skipped AAA successfully, dePodesta cited Jonathan Broxton – a reliever. I think this is telling. I suspect that because the Mets see Montero as a starter, they would be more unwilling to skip him over AAA.

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