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Yankees send top prospect Jesus Montero to Triple-A

Mar 29, 2011, 10:47 AM EDT

Jesus Montero

Jesus Montero was included among the Yankees cuts yesterday, with the 21-year-old stud catching prospect being optioned to Triple-A.

For some reason there are mainstream media members who should know better acting as if his not making the team out of spring training is an indictment of Montero’s long-term upside or a change of plans by the Yankees, but it seems highly unlikely that general manager Brian Cashman and company ever planned on putting an elite 21-year-old prospect in a backup role that may lead to just a couple starts per week.

For one thing he needs to be playing every day wherever he is and for another thing Montero’s defense behind the plate gets mixed reviews at best. Giving him an extended look in spring training before sending him to Triple-A is exactly what everyone should have expected to happen.

In addition to Montero being assigned to Triple-A fellow top catching prospect Austin Romine was assigned to Double-A, leaving Gustavo Molina as the backup to starter Russell Martin (with Jorge Posada around as an emergency option). Molina is replacement-level at best, so the Yankees will likely be scouring the waiver wire for a better option before Opening Day.

  1. aburns77 - Mar 29, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    I’m glad the Yankees didn’t cave and put Montero up there just because there was a hole at backup catcher. The fact of the matter is backup catchers aren’t all that important and the Yankees have done with worse than Molina and in truth despite his popularity with the fans Cervelli is about as close to replacement level as you can get too. If they’re not going to start Montero or give him a good chunk of starts in the majors the only logical place for him is AAA to continue developing his defensive acumen as much as he reasonably can.

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 29, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    It seemed like the Yankees were willing to say it was Montero’s job to lose, and lo and behold, a 21-year-old kid pressed when given a shot at the brass ring. It happens. He was terrible for his first 2 months or so last year at AAA, then adjusted and killed the ball the rest of the way. There are a few freaks of nature who are polished and ready at a very young age, but they ARE freaks of nature. They usually are NOT catchers, since that position requires the most training to develop a learned skill set. Outfielders never have to think that much.

    How many 21-year-olds were impact players last season, or are expected to be impact players this season? Give the kid a break…

  3. sayheykidwschamp - Mar 29, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    The kid is more bat than D. So it was pretty obvious he would be sent down for more seasoning. But he will be the Yankees starting catcher in a year or two. Catching is a difficult job…especially with a shaky pitching staff. No sense having the kid sit on the bench and not get valuable daily playing time in the minors to refine his skills.

    Posey got sent down after ST and look what happened after his callup in June. NL Rookie of the year. Not saying that will be Montero’s future. But getting sent down is not the end. So for writers to dump on this kids future basically shows that those writers know as much as a bandwagon jumper.

  4. BC - Mar 29, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    Good move. Let him play every day and work on D. And the guy’s 21 years old. I think Pudge Rodriguez was the last guy to come up that young and excel at C (although Posey is what, 23 or so?). Let Martin be a bridge for now. You can piece together a backup, and heck, you can throw Posada in there for a game or two if you need to. Nice luxury to have.

    • pisano - Mar 29, 2011 at 12:14 PM

      BC …I agree with everything you said except the part about Posada. His days behind the plate are gone and after watching him in spring training I think his days as a DH may also be numbered. He is striking out a lot and most are called third strikes. Hopefully he gets in a groove for the season.

      • uyf1950 - Mar 29, 2011 at 12:18 PM

        My friend I know Girardi announced the Yankee 25 man active roster yesterday. Do you know who’s taking Feliciano’s spot on the roster while he’s on the DL?

  5. Panda Claus - Mar 29, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    Does this delay in bringing him up have anything to do with his service time? In some cases teams will leave a guy down for the first 21 days of the season because it delays when their ML time begins. Waiting that three weeks gives the team control of the player for another season.

    Not sure it applies in Montero’s case, but an example of where this is likely happening is in Baltimore with Zach Britton.

  6. jdotmdoesntexist - Mar 29, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    It was clearly what the Yanks planned on going all along. And probably the right decision. Montero will probably follow a similar path as Posey last year, starting in the minors and forcing his way into the lineup if he maintains the production he showcased in the second half of last year. It doesnt take much imagination to see Posada getting hurt and Montero taking over at DH. I’d much rather he transition to LF or DH so that he avoids wearing down and can play as many games per season as possible. Although i think the criticisms of his defense go a little too far, and he has clearly improved, 160 games of Montero at DH or LF is more valuable than 140ish of Montero at C. Gary Sanchez, for now is seen as the long term catcher of the future. He has a much better chance at staying behind the plate

  7. sportsdrenched - Mar 29, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    Common Montero Honks? Every good Royals Fan knows prospects are better off starting in the minors instead of sitting on the bench in the majors.

  8. pisano - Mar 29, 2011 at 8:24 PM

    uyf1950… My friend, I thought I heard it would be Garrison, but I’m not 100% sure on that. I believe I heard it last week, but I also thought it was speculation.

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