Jesus Lands in Seattle: Montero to Save the Mariners’ Offense
Friday January 20th, 2012
Bryan Sheehan (MLB reports Intern Candidate): It’s no secret that the Seattle Mariners struggled in 2011. Their offensive numbers were the worst in the league in many categories, as the team’s .233 batting average, .640 OPS and 534 RBIs ranked dead last, pushing them to a 67-95 record. So, coming into this offseason, the Mariners’ objective was clear: go out and acquire a hitter.
Last Friday, the Mariners found salvation as the club dealt young pitching talent Michael Pineda and right-handed pitcher Jose Campos to the New York Yankees for top prospect Jesus Montero and righty Hector Noesi. Pineda, 23, had an impressive rookie campaign, with a 1.10 WHIP and .211 BAA. His record of 9-10 may look less than stellar on paper, but of his 28 starts, his team scored less than three runs in ten games.
As for Montero, his future looks extremely bright, even in the cloudy landscape of Seattle. At age 22, Montero has only played 18 games at the MLB level but brings skill and potential that could make him a superstar. In 2011, he hit .288 with 67 RBIs in 109 games for Triple-A Scranton (considered a down year for the .308 career hitter) and was a September call-up for the Yankees, where he hit .328 with 12 RBIs in those 18 games. A catcher by trade, Montero will most likely start the year as the M’s designated hitter, with eight-year-veteran Miguel Olivo as the anchor behind the plate.
Ranked as the third best prospect in the league by Baseball America coming into last season, Montero has much to prove. First, he has to prove that he can hit in the pitcher’s heaven/ batter’s worst nightmare that is Safeco Field. He went 2/9 at Safeco last year, but his career slugging percentage (in the minors) is a respectable .501. In 2011, Montero held a slugging percentage of .429 at PNC Field, the home of the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate that is almost identical dimensionally to Safeco. This is a really promising sign, as Montero should feel right at home in Seattle’s ballpark.
A big question that arises is where Montero will fit into the M’s batting order. He’s had experience hitting in every position after clean-up for the offensively strong Yankees, starting the most games in the seven-hole. In 2012 he’ll be higher up in the order for the M’s, and taking into consideration his power- he will likely bat third or fifth. If he can keep his pace from 2011, Montero could drive in over 100 RBIs, which is almost twice what Seattle’s leading hitter, Miguel Olivo, hit last season (Olivo had 62 RBIs). The offensive spark that Montero provides will help bring life to the middle of the order, which includes young infielders Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak. The M’s may not be a breakout team or a playoff contender in 2012, but adding Montero to their core of young hitters will definitely prove beneficial in a few years as the team’s young hitters hopefully come into their own together.
Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern Candidate, Bryan Sheehan. You can follow Bryan on Twitter (@Sheehan99), read his interviews with Phillies’ minor league prospects at PhightingOn.com, and catch him writing the occasional article for BleacherReport.com (search his name). Tweet him about this article and he will follow you back!
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Posted on January 20, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged baseball, catcher, Dustin Ackley, hector noesi, jesus montero, jose campos, justin smoak, michael pineda, miguel olivo, mlb, new york yankees, prospect, seattle mariners. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.