Top 41: #3 – RHP Rafael Montero

LV_MonteroBats/Throws: Right/Right
Height/Weight: 6’0”, 185
Acquired: NDFA 1/20/11
Born: 10/17/90 (Higuerito, Banico, DR)
2013 Rank: #9 (2012: #38) | Stats

Why Ranked Here: In blowing through the minors, from the Dominican Summer League to AAA in the last three years, Montero looks poised to contribute in 2014 as a mid- to backend rotation piece.

 

Montero succeeds first and foremost because he has a slightly above average fastball that plays up thanks to pinpoint command. He can hit both corners of the plate to both left and righthanders. The called-strike three at the knees on the black might well be his signature weapon. Montero is mostly 92-94 with his heat, although he can reach back for more, as he did in the XM Futures game in which he showed 95 mph, while sitting 94.

 

I like his changeup as his second pitch. He throws it mostly to left-handers and it has good arm speed with just enough sink.

 

His slider looked like it had more depth in the spring of 2014, than it did in spring training 2013. He’s played around with different formulations on his breaking ball in 2012 and 2013, but 2014 was the best it’s looked – as it approaches MLB average.

 

Montero is not the biggest or most physically imposing prospect, but he repeats his delivery exquisitely well and has been durable in professional baseball. In consecutive seasons, he’s made 17, 20 and then 27 appearances while moving from 71 innings to 122 to 155 last year.

 

If Montero becomes a star, he will be succeeding against type: there just are not very many successful right-handed starting pitchers in the big leagues at 6’ and shorter. Oh, sure, Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux, two Hall of Famers, are the patron saints of six-foot righties. I’ll do a similar study to the one I did for Dominic Smith. Since 1984, in the last 30 years, there have been 118 pitcher seasons in the Baseball Reference play index of 3 WAR or greater by a starting, right-handed pitcher at 6’0” or shorter. Sixty-seven of these 3+ WAR seasons, or 57% of our sample, have been compiled by nine separate pitchers.

This is the list of elite 6’0” righthanders in the last 30 years and their number of 3+ WAR seasons.

1. Greg Maddux – 17
2. Pedro Martinez – 11
3. Bartolo Colon – 8
4. Roy Oswalt – 8
5. Dave Stieb – 5
6. Mike Boddicker – 5
7. Juan Guzman – 5
8. Tim Lincecum – 4
9. Anibal Sanchez – 4

 

These nine pitchers account for the top 17 and 38 of the top 42 seasons (!) seasons in our sample. Only Kevin Tapani (6.8 – 1991), Johnny Cueto (5.9 – 2012), Francisco Cordova (5.5 – 1998) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (5.3 – 2008) join our nasty nine as 6’0” righthanders with seasons with better than five WAR in last thirty years. Think about that for a second. Phrased another way, there are only 13 guys who stand six foot even, who throw with their right hand who accounted for at least five WAR in a season in a 30 year span.

 

There are 71 pitcher-seasons at 4 WAR or better in the last thirty years, or 2.3 per year.
2013:  Montero was sharp in his first eight starts in AA – 3.47 ERA, 54 K/6 BB in 46.2 IP – to earn  AAA spot start on May 21 against Iowa.

Returned to AA, he allowed roughly nothing over his next three starts: 20 innings, 11 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 18 K/4 BB and an opponents’ line of .155/.200/.155 in 75 plate appearances. He was promoted to AAA for good on June 15 and for his final 15 appearances ran a 3.07 ERA over 82 innings with 73 K/24 BB while opponents hit .259/.310/.364 against him in 340 plate appearances.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A solid mid-rotation starter
Debbie Downer Says: Big league time, but not a big contributor
Projected 2014 Start: AAA Las Vegas
MLB Arrival: June 2014

 

Recent Stats

[sny-table rowheader=true columnheader=true]

;ERA;G/GS;IP;H;R;ER;HR;BB;SO;HBP;WP;

12 SAL;2.52;12/12;71.3;61;24;20;4;8;54;1;2;

12 FSL;2.13;8/8;50.67;35;13;12;2;11;56;2;0;

13 EL;2.43;11/11;66.67;51;21;18;2;10;72;0;0;

13 PCL;3.04;16/16;88.67;85;35;30;4;25;78;0;1;

13 Total;2.78;27/27;155.34;136;56;48;6;35;150;0;1;

[/sny-table]

 

 

[sny-table rowheader=true columnheader=true]

;BB/9;SO/9;SO/BB;HR/9;H/9;R/9;BB%;SO%;HR%;TBF;;

12 SAL;1.0;6.8;6.8;0.5;7.7;3.0;2.8;18.9;1.4;286

12 FSL;2.0;9.9;5.1;0.4;6.2;2.3;5.7;29.0;1.0;193

13 EL;1.3;9.7;7.2;0.3;6.9;2.8;3.8;27.6;0.8;261

13 PCL;2.5;7.9;3.1;0.4;8.6;3.6;6.9;21.5;1.1;363

13 Total;2.0;8.7;4.3;0.3;7.9;3.2;5.6;24.0;1.0;624

[/sny-table]

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