Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Prospect Countdown: #3 Mike Montgomery

#3 Mike Montgomery

Age: 22
Position: LHP
Height: 6-4
Weight: 200
Acquired: Drafted by the Royals in the 1st Round of the 2008 Amateur Draft
From: Valencia, CA

Thanks to a strong resume, excellent scouting reports, and a stud Spring in 2011, I rated Mike Montgomery as the top prospect on my rankings. However, after a brutal 2012 campaign some are starting to question the lanky left hander.

Montgomery, who now famously was kicked off the high school team for too many technicals, has been called a bulldog on the mound. He has been praised for his ability to come inside, and his fearlessness on the rubber. In 2012, the Royals wanted Montgomery to focus on his change and moving up and down in the zone as opposed to side to side. Montgomery struggled throughout the summer, posting an ERA 6 in his final 22 starts.

The Royals have looked at the bright side of his rough 2011. They point to a curveball that now grades a full grade higher. But perhaps Montgomery's 2011 wasn't quite as dreadful as it looks on the surface. For a moment consider this comparison (I have taken the player's statistic and subtracted the league average mark):

Player 1: -0.20
Player 2: -0.26

Player 1: -0.22
Player 2: -0.28

Player 1: +0.69
Player 2: +0.39

Player 1: +0.32
Player 2: +0.22

Player 1: -0.15
Player 2: -0.27

Groundball %
Player 1: +5.4
Player 2: +8.3

Player 1 in this comparison is of course Mike Montgomery. Player 2 is Oakland A's starter Jarrod Parker. Parker's season  was considered an excellent year by most helping to solidify his status as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. Montgomery's season was considered a huge disappointment.

There are a couple of things I want you to notice in this crude comparison. First, Mike Montgomery and Jarrod Parker had very similar seasons in comparison to their league's average in terms of peripheral performance. (Basically this is an attempt to adjust for the league average and compare numbers between players at different levels.) The second thing I want you to notice is that both out performed the league average marks in each of these statistics.

Finally, I want to add one more point. Jarrod Parker's results came in Double-A, while Montgomery's came in Triple-A. Throw in that Montgomery is about half a year younger than Parker, and you start to wonder if Montgomery's season was quite as disappointing as it appears after a cursory glance.

I'm sure that Montgomery was more frustrated with his 2011 performance than anybody. Not to mention that there were rumblings of a conflict in pitching ideology. Hopefully, with a new minor league pitching instructor in place a common ground can be reached to allow Montgomery's stuff to find consistency. 

As for the stuff it is still there. Monty can blow it past hitters with low 90s heat that can touch 96. Or Monty can have hitters swinging at nothingness with his plus change up. The curveball is still a work in progress, but at the moment he is throwing a traditional version that comes to the plate in the mid 70s. 

I remain optimistic when it comes to Mike Montgomery, but there is no doubt 2012 is a big year for him. With that being said, he should find his way to Kansas City at some point this summer. I can't wait until he gets going and as of now it is less than twenty-four hours away as he'll serve as the Opening Day starter for the Omaha Storm Chasers. 

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