Who: Michael P. Montgomery
DOB:7/1/1989, Valencia, California
Weight: 180 lb
Acquired: 2008 Draft – 1st round, supplemental
~ Baseball America: #5
~ Royals Review #4
~ Kevin Goldstein: #5
~ John Sickels: #5 B+
~ Royals Prospects: #4
~ 2010 Kings of Kauffman Rankings: #2
|Rk (2 seasons)||Rk||1.58||12||51.1||13||41||0.974||6.5||0.4||2.3||7.2||3.15|
|A+ (2 seasons)||A+||1.88||13||76.2||16||79||0.887||6.1||0.0||1.9||9.3||4.94|
|A (1 season)||A||2.17||12||58.0||24||52||1.138||6.5||0.2||3.7||8.1||2.17|
|AA (1 season)||AA||3.47||13||59.2||26||48||1.374||8.4||0.6||3.9||7.2||1.85|
Last year, Mike Montgomery topped Baseball America’s list of Royals prospects. His mentality on the mound and three plus pitches set him apart from the rest of the pack and his build – a lanky 6’5″ – is what scouts dream of.
A bit has changed in the last year and Montgomery fell to #5 in their rankings. It’s no fault of his own but rather the ascension of Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer (who had notably poor 2009 seasons) and Wil Myers and John Lamb‘s stellar 2010 seasons. Montgomery, on his own, had his worst statistical season in some ways, and was still very good.
After chewing up High A hitters to start the year, he earned a quick promotion to Double A, then missed a chunk of time in the middle of the season with elbow soreness. Despite lower velocity, which is often a warning sign for something bigger. Montgomery’s time on the minor league disabled list was deemed “precautionary” by the Royals and he returned to finish the season with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, later pitching for Team USA in the Pan Am Games and in the Arizona Fall League. Any concerns the organization may have had about his health should be alleviated by his offseason workload.
In the fall league, Montgomery made three starts and won two of them, but he got hammered in one and it inflated his ERA to 6.10. He still struck out 11 batters in that time and walked just two.
Montgomery’s arsenal includes a fastball that kicks around 91-93 consistently and can reach 94-95. He shows great command of the pitch and “bangs strikes” confidently with it. Coming out of a slight 3/4 delivery and with a bit of deception as he throws across his body, it’s his best pitch, with some grading it as a potential 7 on a 2-8 scale. He’s changed from throwing a palm curveball in high school to a traditional curve since joining the Royals, so that’s still developing, but it’s still average and showing improvement. He mostly needs to tighten it up and show better control.
His changeup is very good, hanging around 80-84 with some drop to it. He commands it well and keeps it down in the zone and paired with this impressive fastball, it will be a big weapon for him as the curve continues to develop. His stuff has baffled hitters so far, and they have trouble getting the bat on the ball – Monty’s given up less than 7 hits per nine innings as a pro and has surrendered just seven homers in 245.2 innings pitched (four of those in the Texas League).
The Royals, obviously, love his potential, with Ned Yost and Bob McClure comparing him to Steve Avery and Chuck Finley (could be worse, I guess). Mechanically, he repeats his delivery with ease, which is a reason why the franchise wasn’t concerned by his missed time last year. The now-officially-named left forearm strain is no longer a worry.
Like so many other Royals prospects, the national media is paying attention. MLB.com named him their #14 overall prospect and Baseball America placed him at #19 in their annual top 100 (and he’s behind four other Royals on that list).
Montgomery’s 2011 will probably start out in Northwest Arkansas for a while, and if he can show that the Royals are right about his health, he should make another quick jump like last season to arrive in Omaha before his 22nd birthday. There’s a slight chance he could end up on the Royals in September with an eye towards a full-time gig in the rotation starting in 2012. If he put ups numbers like he has on the way up the ladder, he may force the Royals hand for an earlier look in the majors (I might even be conservative in my 2011 outlook for Montgomery).
In the past, Montgomery looked like a left-handed complement to Zack Greinke. After this offseason, he’s moved up to be the projected ace of a rotation of excellent pitchers. That’s his upside. I suspect he’ll reach it.
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