Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Prospect Profile: Mike Montgomery

Profile: RHP - 6'5" - 180lbs - BT:L - TH:L - 2011 Age: 22


• FB 92-94: Uses frame well to get good plane, nice run generates ground balls (60-70)
• CV 75-77: Will hump the pitch sometimes, but gets big movement. Shaky command. (40-50)
• CH 80-82: Very deceptive arm action, decent fade, good differential. (55-65)

Selected out of high school by the Royals in the sandwich round of the 2008 draft (36th overall) and signed for just under a million dollar bonus, Montgomery has moved steadily through the Royals farm system, relying heavily on his plus fastball. There was a point during the 2010 season, after mowing down Carolina League hitters when I thought he was going to end up in AAA, or even get a look in September of last year. Unfortunately, he was slowed by a forearm pain and elbow issues that cost him a big chunk of the season and though his velocity was there, he didn't look the same upon returning. 

A tall-and-fall pitcher who finds his balance after a small leg kick, he has a very short stride for someone his size. His mechanics raise some injury concerns as he has a tendency to finish with a stiff front leg and spin off after delivery. He also pitches across his body more than you'd like. The fact that he's able to generate so much velocity while leveraging the lower half of his body so much speaks volumes about his arm strength, but again, it also concerns me.
Montgomery leads with his fastball, and it's a good one. He works comfortable in the 93mph range and he can push that to 95-96 at times. His fastball has good arm-side run and he utilizes his big 6'5" well, getting good downward plane. When batters can catch up to it, the have difficulty squaring it up. He also locates the ball quite well, running it away from right handers and back dooring lefties.

Of his off speed offering, I like his changeup more than his curveball, which is still a work in progress at this point. He's shown a willingness to work aggressively with the change, using it when hitters aren't expecting it. A good Major League changeup is about so much more than measurables like fade/drop and velocity differential - it's about feel and throwing it from the same arm angle with the same arm speed. It needs to look exactly like your fastball. Montgomery shows a lot of this feel and I think my 65 potential grade is probably more aggressive than you'll see elsewhere.

His curve, as stated above, is still a work in progress but it's come a long ways since high school. He doesn't command the pitch nearly as well as the other two offerings, but it's combination of plus 11/5 break and big velocity differential should make it a capable offering to lefties. Still, there is room for improvement if he can tighten up the rotation to fool hitters for just an instant longer. 

Performance Analysis:







Before 2010, Montgomery had been more good than great, but was still well regarded because of his power left-handed arm and the potential of his off speed offerings. His strikeout rates and walk rates were all good, and he had shown an ability to get ground ball, but none of his peripherals jumped out as being truly great. In 2010 however, his stuff really took a step forward as his changeup emerged as a legitimate off speed offering and he was promoted quickly after manhandling Carolina League hitters.

Despite struggling with arm issues throughout his stay in AA last year, he still managed to post good numbers and if healthy could breeze through AA and AAA in 2011 and perhaps reach the Majors even before the September roster expansion


His stuff is good but probably not truly ace caliber as he lacks an elite secondary offering and his fastball, while good, isn't going to blow most hitters away on velocity alone. He should be a very solid #2 however provided he can stay healthy which I see as a pretty significant concern.

Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery. 

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