Jesus walks...a lot less than he did in 2010

Nathaniel Stoltz over at Seedlings to Stars took a look at the regression of the Yankees’ highly-touted prospect Jesus Montero. Nate makes some good points and I can’t say that I disagree with what he says.

Nate:

Montero’s responded by posting a near-identical .291 average in his [second year at Triple-A], but that’s the only remotely positive news for his 2011 offensive output. His OBP has dropped sixteen points, and his slugging has fallen 107. Montero is striking out a bit more, walking far less, and 3/4 of his hits have been singles.

Numbers don’t lie. Montero’s 2011 stats clearly pale in comparison to last year’s. However, he has exactly half as many plate appearances so far this year as he did all of last year (504 to 252), so maybe he will pick it up. I’m not too concerned about 16 points on an OBP, but the 107 on his slugging is alarming. However, Jesus is only 21. Lest we forget that Derek Jeter also had some pretty sub-par minor league seasons and he turned out just fine.

Nate also points out that Montero’s caught-stealing rate is terrible (18%) but he has let up fewer passed balls (three this year to 15 last year). He also notes that the catcher’s numbers have been getting worse by the month this year. Luckily he then goes on to reassure us Yankee fans that this drop in production shouldn’t have us leaping off bridges just yet:

That’s not to say that he’s a lost cause. A .291/.337/.410 line from a 21-year-old in Triple-A is far from the end of the line, and we shouldn’t overreact to three mediocre months in any case. In fact, if he weren’t repeating the level and we didn’t have the previous Triple-A stats to compare to, this performance probably wouldn’t be as alarming.

The article then tries to figure out the source of Montero’s lack of production:

It’s tough to know what to attribute Montero’s struggles to. It’s possible that all the work he’s put in defensively has taken his focus away from offense, or maybe all the trade rumors or the prospect of the New York spotlight has been some sort of distraction. Or maybe he’s dealing with some sort of injury or mechanical adjustment. Whatever the case may be, it’s definitely something to watch, as Montero is an important part of the Yankees’ future–either as a key offensive player or a key trade chip.

Any of those could be the root of the problem, but Andrew Marchand of ESPNNY reports that Scranton hitting coach Butch Wynegar thinks Jesus could be “bored” in the minors. That same article also notes how Montero was benched for two games earlier this month because the team felt his play “lacked energy”. If that is the case then the Yanks should give him a shot in the show. I don’t condone copping an attitude or turning in a half-assed effort to get your way — it’s immature and bratty — but the team needs to see what it has with this prospect. He couldn’t be much worse than Frankie Cervelli.

The only problem with that scenario is that Cashman said he doesn’t want Montero to play once every five days if he’s called up. He wants him to get regular at-bats and time behind the plate, which he can only do at Scranton. But I’m tired of hearing all the hype about Jesus, I want to see what he can do. Sac up Cashman.

My take on Jesus is that the Yanks need to — and pardon my French here — shit or get off the pot. If they’re not going to bring him up then they should deal him; apparently a few teams have already inquired about him. If you asked me last year, or even earlier this year, my thoughts on Jesus I would have said don’t trade him for anyone. I was against dealing him for Halladay and Lee but now my tune has changed.

As much as I would love to see Jesus in the Bronx, I don’t think the Yanks would miss him if they traded him. They have a couple of catching prospects in Austin Romine, who will be playing in the Futures Game, and Gary Sanchez, who is supposedly the best defensive catcher in the Yanks’ farm system but is still only 18 years old.

What should the Yanks do about Jesus Montero?

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