MMs Top 25: #6 RHSP Rafael Montero


#6 RHSP Rafael Montero (LR: #2)
Bats: R Throws: R
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 185 lb
Age: 23
Acquired: 2011 International Signing, Dominican Republic

2014: (AAA/MLB) 6-9, 4.09 ERA, 112.2 IP, 8.7 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 1.364 WHIP
2013: (AA/AAA) 12-7, 2.78 ERA, 155.1 IP, 8.7 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 1.101 WHIP
2012: (A/A+) 11-5, 2.36 ERA, 122.0 IP, 8.1 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 0.943 WHIP
2011: (DSL/R/SS-A) 5-4, 2.15 ERA, 71.0 IP, 8.4 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 0.958 WHIP
     Montero's rapid ascension through the Mets minor league system has finally hit a wall. After speeding through 6 levels of minor league baseball in 2 1/2 years, Montero has begun to struggle in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. While Montero is still posting K rates in the high 8's, his BB rate has ballooned all the way up into the 4's during his time in AAA. When you look at his career rates, it seems quite abnormal that he would suddenly be walking this many guys when in the past his BB Rates were regularly in the mid to low 1's.

     Let's delve into the peripherals, shall we? First off, he's using his fastball way too much. In his few starts at the MLB level, the advanced pitching metric system "PITCH F/X" has registered Montero using his FB a whopping 72% of the time. While opponents are not hitting it well (.245 BAA), they know it's coming and are not missing it. In fact only 5% of swings against his fastball are missed. This leads to a large amount of foul balls which have been driving up his pitch count and forcing him into unfavorable counts.

     The second problem, and the more glaring one, has been his slider. While he's only using it 12% of time, opponents have a .429 batting average against it and are only missing it on 12% of swings. By comparisons, Matt Harvey uses his slider 18% of the time and generates a whiff rate of 22% allowing opponents to post a paltry .238 BAA. So what's causing these inflated numbers? Well quite frankly.....the pitch just hasn't been that good. While many scouts graded it as a MLB average pitch, in our first looks at him, the slider has been pretty flat. PITCH F/X shows that Montero's slider has only shown .5 inches of vertical movement and only 1" of horizontal movement. Basically, its been a flying saucer that hitters have been teeing off on.

     Despite the grim results and outcomes there is still hope for Montero. He looked very strong in his last start against the Cubs on August 17th, a game which I attended. During that game he got back to basics and returned to what has always worked for him in the minor leagues, which is, an advanced feel for a change-up. In that game he used his change-up 22% of the time and Cubs batters whiffed on it 9 out of 24 times (37.5%). 

     If he can balance his repertoire usage to that day's level (60% FB, 25% CH, 15% SL), get his control back, and improve the movement on his slider he'll have no problem reaching his ceiling. Until then we have to start expecting him to stay at his floor.

Ceiling: Solid and Consistent #3 MLB SP (James Shields)
Floor: 2 pitch repertoire #5 MLB SP (Kyle Kendrick)


Charles said...

For all the hoopla surrounding this guy, he certainly underwhelmed when given the chance. Unlike deGrom, the stage seemed bigger than him. That's a problem.

Unfortunately, you can't trade him because his value is low now. Got to just keep him AAA as a good emergency starter for Queens and hope he gets his control back.

In this system, he's certainly not top 10.

Anonymous said...


If teams gave up on young pitchers who struggled in their 1st crack at the majors.....we'd have a lot fewer superstar pitchers in the MLB right now.

As I said in the post....Montero got too fastball heavy in his approach and got away from his change-up in his first few starts. His start against the Cubs where he used 60% Fastballs, 25% change-ups, and 15% Sliders is when he's at his best.

His change-up has always been better than his slider so I'm not quite sure why he got away from it in the first place.

Mack Ade said...

Montero seemed in far better control than Syndergaard in thew PCL and, hopefully, this is just a bad stretch.

You know me... I still want him in the 2015 pen as the 7th inning guy

Anonymous said...


I just don't see the fit as a bullpen arm.

He while he has a good repretoire....he doesn't have 1 premium pitch. His fastball and change-up are both above average and his slider is considered average even though it didn't look very good the first few starts.

Michael S. said...

Premium trade bait

Charles said...

He's not premium trade bait. That's just silly...


You're right, nobody should give up on him or his ceiling due to a few hiccups at the worst possible time. However, those hiccups and the Mets's system when all considered together, has him outside the top ten. At least for me...

Plus, when he was successful in the majors, in the games against the Brewers and Cubs I believe, he looked simply decent. To think this guy got so much more press then deGrom is insane. DeGrom is a killer compared to Montero.

Anonymous said...

DeGrom was coming off Tommy John surgery and was a converted SS.

No one could have anticipated his rise to stardom.

I dont want to toot my own horn....but....I did have him at #7 in last year's post draft ranking.


Anonymous said...


I was at the Cubs game and he looked very solid. The change-up was sharp and he handled Castro and Rizzo very well.

The other start your thinking of was against the Diamondbacks when he struck out 10 in 6 innings I believe.

Anonymous said...


Charles is right....I wouldnt say Montero is premium trade bait...but his is a solid secondary piece.

If you offered Thor, Montero, and a low level wild card like Marcos Molina it would be enough to net Tulo in my opinion

Michael S. said...

Pfft....whatever. He might not be a centerpiece but he's expendable for the Mets and a top 100 prospect in baseball. That makes him valuable in trade.

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