Tim Bontemps offers some insight on the Yankees Tampa Catching Dandy Duo – Jesus Montero and Austin Romine:
“I like those two kids,” a scout said. “Those were two of my favorite kids last year in [Low-A] Charleston.”
Both players have excelled during their brief professional careers. Montero hit .326 with 17 homers and 87 RBIs for Charleston last season, and has carried that level of success over to High-A Tampa this year, where he is hitting .341 with seven homers and 34 RBIs through Friday’s games.
“Montero can really swing the bat,” the scout said. “He is one of the better young hitters I’ve seen in a long time. I don’t know if he’ll catch, but his bat will get him to the big leagues.”
“I think that kid has a chance to do [in the majors] what he’s doing now — hit for average and power. He hit a ball last year in Charleston that’s still up there.”
Already 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, there have been questions about whether Montero, a 19-year-old from Venezuela, will be able to stay behind the plate long-term. But Yankees VP of Player Development Mark Newman praised Montero for his recent improvement behind the plate.
“We feel better about [his defense] every month,” Newman said. “He keeps getting better every month. He’s throwing better. . . . We’re very happy with his defensive progress, and I mean very. He’s really improved.”
Romine, whose father, Kevin, was an outfielder for the Red Sox from 1985-91 and brother Andrew is a shortstop in the Angels system, also has had success at the plate. After hitting .300 with 10 homers and 49 RBIs last year with Charleston, Romine, 20, is hitting .279 with four homers and 21 RBIs with Tampa this season.
After seeing Romine last year, the scout compared him with a familiar face to Yankees fans.
“I wrote in my report that Romine reminded me of [Jason] Varitek,” the scout said. “He’s a big, strong guy, can catch and throw, has some power. Romine, to me, was further advanced behind the plate. He can catch and throw, and his bat could get him there, too.”
Me? I see Jesus Montero being a right-handed Carlos Delgado (who was also a catcher, in the minors and briefly in the bigs). The question is: If he ends up as a first baseman or D.H., where is he going to play in New York with A-Rod and Tex locked up for years to come? And, we still have a way to go with Austin Romine. Maybe he’s the next Bill Freehan? Or, maybe he’s the next Frank Fernandez? It’s still way too earlier to tell with him…let’s see how he does at Double-A when he gets there.