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Friday, March 15, 2013

MARK MONTGOMERY: THE NEXT BIG THING

Could Mark Montgomery be the next big thing to come out of the Yankee farm system? The Yankees management certainly hopes so, as Montgomery has been turning heads lately. Not to mention the fact that with all the injuries hitting the team now, every bit of talent helps. For those that do not know, the Yankees drafted this 22-year old kid in the 2011 Amateur draft, and he is already being compared to David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain. He has a really nasty slider, and fastball that hits the low 90s to complement it.

Despite having pitched only 2 years in the minors, his numbers so far are outstanding. In his 92+ innings over 72 games at various levels of the minors, he has allowed only one home run. In 2012, he pitched in the Florida State League and Eastern League, and he has demonstrated excellent control. Over that time, he has a WHIP of .886 (.780 if you take out intentional walks) and 3.1 walks per nine innings (2.7 without the intentional walks). Translation - he does not allow many base runners, and he does not give out free passes. Then there is that slider. He has been able to get that over for strikes, and making batters miss it a lot. In his current minor league career, as of this writing, he is recording 14.6 strikeouts per nine innings. Not surprisingly, in 2012, his ERA was 1.54 and he only had two losses recorded against him.

Granted the minor league stats are not always good indicators of success at the major league level, as the caliber of hitting goes way up. However, let's compare those numbers to Joba Chamberlain's in 2007 when he went through the same leagues. His WHIP was 1.008, he recorded 2.8 walks per 9 innings, and 13.8 strikeouts per 9 innings. While Chamberlain gave out walks at a lower rate, he allowed more base runners than Montgomery has. Joba's ERA of 2.45 is almost a full run higher. That is not to say that his number looks bad, it is just to illustrate how good Montgomery has been. Joba's strikeout rate of 13.8 over nine innings is a little lower, which would indicate the Montgomery has a higher propensity to strike a guy out. When you are looking for a pitcher to close out a game, or get the team out of a tight spot, this guy could prove to be worth his weight in gold.

I compare him to Joba because the Yankees brought up Joba in the middle of his first year in the minors. The team thought that highly of him. When he made it up, he was tremendous, and he lit up opposing batters and created excitement in the Yankee bullpen. However, they were very careful with him, and they should have been wiser in managing him in his second year. It makes sense that the Yankees have their eye on him, and it would not surprise any of us if he made an appearance somewhere late in the summer. If the Yankees are careful and take care of him, this kid could pay huge dividends. Personally, I cannot wait to see what he can do in the majors.



--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Writer
Twitter: @KingAgamemnon



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