Via Wayne Coffey:
For Jesus Montero, it doesn’t mean there’s not still a lot to figure out. At the top of the list is this: Two months into his first season in AAA ball, with the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees, Montero, a 6-4, 225-pound Venezuelan, is hitting .234 after going 0-for-3 Sunday night against Syracuse. He has hit three home runs, or one every 50 at-bats. He has 21 RBI.
What happened to the ball-pounding prodigy who went .326/17/87 in his first full year in the minors at age 18? The guy who hit .337 with 17 homers and 70 RBI in 92 games last year, split between Class A and AA?
“I am worried about my hitting, but not that much,” Montero says in front of his locker in the PNC Field clubhouse. Not even five minutes later, he says, “I’m not upset that I’m not hitting. I’m still the same guy … trying to hit the ball hard every single time.”
“In a lot of ways it’s good for young players to hit these speed bumps, because this business is full of them, and life is full of them,” says Mark Newman, the Yankees’ senior VP of baseball operations. “He’s one of the better young hitters we’ve had in our system since I’ve been here (22 years). I am confident that he will hit. Our baseball field personnel – the coaches and coordinators – think he’s going to hit. You can’t find anyone in our organization who doesn’t think he’s going to be a really good player.”
Former Yankee catcher Butch Wynegar is the Scranton-Wilkes Barre hitting coach, and Montero’s unofficial catching coach.
“He’s got the ability, no doubt,” Wynegar says. “He’s got quick hands. He’s got power. Now he just needs consistency in his approach. There are a lot of guys who know how to pitch in this league. He just hasn’t made the adjustments he needs to make.”
The thing is…down in Double-A, Austin Romine has a BA/OBA/SLG line of .329/.389/.493 (in 167 PA). So, at some point this season, if things continue this way for both Montero and Romine, the Yankees are going to have to consider demoting the former to AA and promoting the latter to AAA, to replace him, no?