In 2011, Mike Montgomery toiled in Omaha, racking up a 5.32 ERA in 150.2 innings. He walked too many, gave up 15 homers, and by many accounts was nowhere near the same pitcher he’d been through the middle of 2010.
His first two starts of 2012 weren’t very encouraging either, as he only got through 7.2 innings and had an 8.22 ERA entering Thursday night’s game at Round Rock. He had walked four and gave up five runs in 3.1 innings at Albuquerque in his second start after opening the year with 4.1 innings and two earned runs.
So his taking the mound on Thursday had many fans – including myself – hoping for any sign of progress.
In a way, another rough start would have been just as painful as the seven straight losses from the big league team. Montgomery is arguably the most important part of The Process. He’s been touted as a potential ace (though that ceiling is less and less reachable) and at worst a solid #2 starter. Now, he’s got as much boom and bust potential as any other pitching prospect.
But on Thursday, he looked like the guy we expect him to be. He looked like he was in charge. He located his pitches, induced ground balls, and didn’t get hit hard until his last inning. Most significant is that he walked just two batters and struck out seven on 89 pitches. Eleven of the outs he recorded were ground ball outs.
Of course he isn’t out of his funk yet. He still has to keep it going into his next start. If he continues progressing and can string together some strong starts, he may see Kansas City before the All-Star break.
But that’s getting ahead of everything. One start at a time.
In other pitching prospect news:
Montgomery wasn’t the only Royals prospect who threw a good game on Thursday.
In Wilmington, Yordano Ventura followed up Jason Adam‘s fine start for Wilmington with a good showing of his own. In five innings, he struck out nine batters, walking only one. He currently has a 16/7 K/BB ratio.
Noel Arguelles had two rough starts for Northwest Arkansas before tonight, but he threw 5.2 innings, giving up just one run. He walked none, but only struck out one and gave up nine hits. After the solid showing tonight, though, his ERA drops to 6.08 after 13.1 innings. He’s moving in the right direction at least.