Elehuris Montero's Lost Season Doesn't Dim Prospects
The injury happened in April. He surrendered to surgery in June.
The Cardinals are betting Elehuris Montero’s rebound from a lost season will ignite by March.
The 21-year-old third baseman missed most of the 2019 season due to a fractured hamate bone in his left hand. He was hit by a pitch in April at Double-A Springfield and struggled so much to regain strength upon his return that he required surgery at midseason.
Limited to 59 games in the Texas League, Montero hit .188/.235/.317—and yet the Cardinals’ internal reviews of his potential were robust enough to add him to the 40-man roster to avoid risking losing him in the Rule 5 draft.
"It was basically a lost season for him,” general manager Michael Girsch told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "But he already was 21 years old and was at Double-A. You can afford to have a lost season at 21 and recover from that and still be young for Double-A.”
In his first full season as a pro, a teenage Montero hit .322/.381/.529 with 15 home runs at low Class A Peoria in 2018. He continued to hit in the pitcher-oriented Florida State League following an in-season promotion to high Class A.
While he doesn’t have the natural gargantuan power of 2018 first-rounder Nolan Gorman or project as the all-around hitter of Dominican Summer League triple crown winner Malcom Nunez, Montero has a steadiness at the plate, an eye for the strike zone and emerging power as he matures. He also is the most advanced fielder of the group.
Montero got 15 games in the Arizona Fall League to continue building strength. Their plan is for him to return to Double-A to open 2020 and then advance to Triple-A Memphis, clearing third base at Springfield for Gorman. Or, they’ll find a way to both fit.
"Will he be playing third base when he’s 31?” Girsch said of Montero. "We’ll see. For now, we still think he has the tools to be a good third baseman.”
— After nearly 50 years in baseball, 33 of which he spent as a coach with the Cardinals, Mark DeJohn retired in September. DeJohn, 66, last served as field coordinator for the Cardinals and had previous turns as a minor league manager and big league bench coach. He mentored current manager Mike Shildt in the minors and one of the organization’s few remaining coaches who were groomed by player development guru George Kissell.
— As the Cardinals consider backup shortstop options for 2020, Edmundo Sosa has used winter ball to assert his candidacy. A reliable and versatile fielder who can handle shortstop, Sosa hit .305/.359/.411 in his first 37 games in the winter Dominican League with 10 extra-base hits and 14 RBIs.