TAMPA, Fla.—Reports on a pair of Friday’s low minors games between the Yankees and Pirates during my final day in Florida:
Jesus Montero doesn’t have too many doubters about his abilities at the plate. On Friday Montero showed excellent bat speed that allows him to let balls travel deep into the hitting zone, power to all fields and a knack for putting the barrel to the ball.
While there aren’t too many 19-year-olds who can hit like Montero, the industry consensus is that the young Yankees’ prospect will likely have to move off of catcher down the road. Yesterday Montero showed all the reasons why scouts question Montero’s ability to stick at catcher. His arm strength is just OK, and he’s not especially good at throwing out base stealers.
More problematic was his receiving, as Montero committed three passed balls in one inning. Tall catchers—Montero is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds—can provide a big target, but they sometimes have trouble getting down low enough to block balls in the dirt, which Montero showed on Friday. He’s not particularly agile, which allowed a ball in the dirt just to his right to get by him. The third passed ball was an inside pitch to a righthanded batter that just bounced off his glove.
Pitching to Montero to start the game was lefthander Jeremy Bleich, the Yankees’ 2008 supplemental first-rounder and the team’s top signed draft pick after first-rounder Gerrit Cole chose to go to UCLA. Bleich worked with an 87-89 mph fastball with some armside run. His secondary pitches—a 78-79 mph changeup and a high-70s curve—were both solid offerings.
A pair of the Yankees’ top 2007 international signings—center fielder Eduardo Sosa and right fielder Kelvin De Leon—played on Friday, though De Leon only served as the DH. Sosa is a well above-average runner with a good idea at the plate, and as he gets stronger he’ll be able to put more of a charge into the ball.
It’s easy to see why De Leon commanded a $1.1 million signing bonus because his skill set is ideal for a workout. He takes a good BP, he crushes a fastball with plus power to all fields, his arm strength is plus and he’s a good athlete. De Leon also struck out in more than one quarter of his plate appearances last year in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League—74 strikeouts in 281 PAs—and he showed why on Friday by looking completely lost against breaking balls. Baseball America subscribers will have more information on Sosa and De Leon next week.
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