According to Chad Jennings of the Journal News, the Yankees top prospect, catcher Jesus Montero, will start the season with the triple-A Scranton Yankees. Montero’s 2009 season was cut short due to a finger injury while he was with double-A Trenton after starting the season in single-A Tampa.
The Yankees have been encouraged by Montero’s improved footwork behind the plate. He threw out 31.8 percent of base runners in Trenton, which is pretty solid and much better than the 12.5 percent he threw out in the first half of the season in Tampa. Actually, Montero’s caught stealing percentage in Trenton was better than Romine’s season percentage in Tampa (though I don’t think anyone would suggest Montero is at Romine’s level in that regard). Newman said some of the improvement came because Montero adjusted his footwork so that he pivots on his right foot rather than taking a step or a slide.
“That seems to work for him,” Newman said. “It’s an older school approach.”
Newman stressed – as he’s done pretty much every time I’ve mentioned Montero’s name the past few years – that the Yankees still see their top prospect as a catcher. With Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, though, there’s a chance Montero will get some time at first base, at least during drills. It’s something all catchers in the Yankees system do. I’ve seen Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart and Kevin Cash take ground balls at third base. P.J. Pilittere has gotten a bit of playing time at first.
“He’ll get that as a matter of course,” Newman said. “But all of our guys do. It won’t be anything special for him.”
This seems like a move that, at least in part, was made to ensure that Montero gets to start behind the plate more often. The Yankees don’t want to hold Austin Romine back. If they think he’s ready for Trenton then that’s where he is going to start,but at the same time, why not start Montero in Scranton. He’ll get more reps behind the plate and he’s probably ready after his double-A line of .317/.370/.539/.909.
He’ll probably spend the entire season in triple-A mostly to get more experience behind the plate, but this does put him next in line to get called up if there is an injury or he just hits so well they can’t keep him down.