Friday, RHP Rafael Montero was placed on the St. Lucie Mets disabled list. The word out of St. Lucie is that he’s been shut down after hitting his innings limit. The 21-year old Montero has thrown 122 innings this year between Savannah in the South Atlantic League and St. Lucie in the Florida State League. He combined for 71 innings last year between the Dominican Summer League, the Gulf Coast League, the Appalachian League and the New York Penn League.
His numbers in the Florida State League were very good: 2.13 ERA, 50.2 IP, 35 H, 13 R, 12 ER, 11 BB, 56 K. He had a K/9 of 9.9 and a K/BB of 5.09. He had a pair of eye-popping performances in his final two outings, a 14 strikeout game in Clearwater on July 31 and no-hit performance over 7.2 innings in Palm Beach on August 7th.
Mets pitching Coordinator Ron Romanick began with the mental side of the game in a recent conversation about Montero, “He’s always had a presence about him,” Romanick said. “Nothing seems to bother the kid. I’ve seen him have a really mediocre game, for him, and I’ve seen him have really good games and he stays the same guy. Baseball, if you can learn to do that, you can be really good for a long time. You never really see him have a bad work day because of his makeup. He’s tightened up all of his stuff. He’s got a nice mix of pitches and throws strikes.”
Montero worked off a fastball a tick above average in Savannah, but thrived because he could throw strikes with the offering and kept batters off balance with a changup. Romanick offered a similar assessment of Montero’s recent work in the Florida State League, “He dialed it up 92-93 and was just down in the zone and attacking the zone with all of his stuff. He still has a plus changeup.”
Over the course of the year, Montero tightened up his slider, and became more comfortable throwing it across more counts. “The sign of a mature pitcher, is you’re not going to pitch exclusively off the breaking stuff, but in those counts, conversion counts, [breaking balls] are devastating when you can execute the pitch when you need to,” Romanick explained “You don’t waste it. That’s the sign of a guy maturing.”
Montero’s a very real prospect who’s stock has risen dramatically this year. He certainly has a chance to stick in a Major League Rotation.