If you have watched any of Spring Training this season you may have seen an old and forgotten face, Rafael Montero. At 26 years of age, he’s no longer a kid and we’re no longer wondering if he or Jacob deGrom will be the better pitcher. Remember that back in 2014, the Mets (and their fans), were very very high on Montero and his potential.
Back then we were looking at a player who had achieved much with pinpoint control of essentially “league average” stuff. That being said, the stats told the tale of a pretty good pitcher:
● 2011 – 71.0 IP, 2.15 ERA, 66 Ks, 0.96 WHIP (DSL/GCL/APP/NYP)
● 2012 – 122.0 IP, 2.36 ERA, 110 Ks, 0.94 WHIP (SAL/FSL)
● 2013 – 155.1 IP, 2.78 ERA, 150 Ks, 1.10 WHIP (EAS/PCL)
● 2014 – 86.0 IP, 3.45 ERA, 87 Ks, 1.27 WHIP (GCL/FSL/PCL)*
If not for injuries it’s possible that Montero, who was off to an okay start might have made the Mets question if deGrom should be sent back down to AAA. That didn’t happen and instead we’ve watched Montero’s prospect star fall, like Lucifer, from the heavens.
In 2015 and 2016 Montero peaked into the majors for a brief 54.1 innings thanks to godawful numbers in the very difficult PCL. The Mets even went as far as demoting Montero to AA in 2016 to try and save the last shreds of his self confidence.
Perhaps that worked…
This spring, he’s pitched 18.1 fabulous innings and boasts a 1.96 ERA and 21 Ks. What’s changed? That’s a good question. If one looks at his numbers (since 2014) the one thing we all took for granted with Montero has not been true.
The control has not been Montero’s ally and if you look at his numbers even this spring he’s walking too many batters. He’s got 8 walks this spring which is a better K:BB than he boasted in AAA last year (17:10). Am I suggesting we ignore what has been a fantastically resurgent spring? No. I’m suggesting prudent caution regarding a player who has let us down in the past.