Jesus Montero’s future ability to play the position of catcher is such a hot topic in Yankeeland. Related, this from Buster Olney is worth noting:
The other day, New York Yankees coach Tony Pena took the team’s catchers through some work, first focusing on throwing the ball to second base; Yogi Berra was there, too, and so was Butch Wynegar, offering advice. Jorge Posada, who is easing his way into the throwing drills this spring, participated by taking throws at second base. Francisco Cervelli and others would glove a pitch, pop up and quickly reset both feet and throw to second in the standard throwing mechanics for catchers.
Instead of popping up onto the front of both feet and firing to second, Montero kept his right foot anchored in place after catching the pitch; he took a short stride with his left foot and threw to second base.
A few things about this:
1. I asked around, with scouts and coaches, and nobody could think of another catcher who currently throws this way on a consistent basis.
2. You cannot possibly be successful throwing this way unless you have a strong arm — and Montero does have a powerful arm.
3. These mechanics are part of the Yankees’ effort to make Montero into a workable catcher, to maximize his value, because there is little doubt that he’s going to hit.
Montero has Molina-like speed, so playing the outfield is probably not an option, and he wants to catch. But this will be something that he will always have to work on — and something he began to take more seriously last season, by all accounts, when staff members essentially made it clear to him that what stood between him and the big leagues was his defensive work.
Montero’s size is something he has to work through as a catcher. He used to throw with standard mechanics for a catcher, but because he is so tall, it takes a lot of time for him to get to his feet and draw his arm through and release the ball. So in the middle of last season, some coaches in the Yankees’ minor league system worked with him on these new throwing mechanics — holding his right foot in place.
Well, now you know what Houston Astro fans felt like back in the Spring of 1972 – reading about how the team was trying to make then 24-year old Cliff Johnson into a serviceable catcher…tying to find a place for his bat.
For those too young to remember Cliff Johnson, the young “catching” prospect with the big bat, here are his minor league numbers, back in the day:
|1967||19||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A-Rk||HOU||89||9||.282||.451|
|1970||22||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A-AAA||HOU||124||28||.339||.626|
|1971||23||2 Teams||2 Lgs||AA-AAA||HOU||89||9||.208||.379|
|1972||24||2 Teams||2 Lgs||AAA-AA||HOU||131||27||.283||.533|