2017 Pinstripe Potential: Jordan Montgomery
Jordan Montgomery is a viable candidate for a spot in the Yankees 2017 rotation.
As the hot stove begins to spark, New York Yankees’ general Brian Cashman has begun to draft his wishlist for the 2017 season. Cashman spoke about his goals for the offseason last week at the ALS Assocation Greater New York Chapter’s 22nd annual Lou Gehrig‘s Sports Award gala, where he was awarded the Jacob Javits Lifetime Achievement Award.
“We’re going to go through everything,” Cashman said. “We’ve had our scouting meetings. The areas that we would like to focus on — the bullpen and starting pitching. I think the biggest focus will be pitching, pitching, pitching.”
Unfortunately for the Yankees, the paucity of elite starting pitchers on the free agent market could make it difficult for the team to improve their average rotation. Given Michael Pineda‘s perennial Jekyll and Hyde performance, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia are the only two solidified spots in the rotation.
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While Cashman will surely take a look at free agent arms such as Rich Hill, Jason Hammel and Jeremy Hellickson, the Yankees have a strong option waiting in the wings in Jordan Montgomery.
The 23-year-old southpaw has quickly jumped through the Yankees farm system after being drafted by the team in the 4th round of the 2014 draft out of the University of South Carolina. Montgomery had a standout season in 2016, as he pitched to a 14-5 record and 2.13 ERA in 25 starts between Double-A Trenton Thunder and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRaiders. In 139.1 innings, Montgomery struck out 134 hitters (8.7 K/9), opposed to just 45 walks (2.9 BB/9).
Montgomery finished his season in impressive fashion, as after a midseason promotion to Triple-A, the lefty pitching to a stunning 0.97 ERA over 37 innings (6 starts), while striking out 37 (9 K/9) and walking 9 (2.2 BB/9). He allowed two or fewer runs in each of those starts, and set the franchise record for most consecutive scoreless innings with 29.2 scoreless frames, eclipsing Tim Mauser‘s streak in 1991.
The Sumter, South Carolina-native was an integral part of the RailRaiders first Gildan Triple-A National Championship run, as he notably blanked the Lehigh Valley IronPigs over 7 innings in game one of the semi-finals. Montgomery also started the Triple-A championship game, and allowed just one run over 5 innings en route to the RailRaiders 3-1 victory over the El Paso Chihuahua’s.
Aside from Montgomery’s raw numbers and clutch performance, scouts have praised his recent development. According to MLB Pipeline, Montgomery is the Yankees 19th best prospect, and will be ready to pitch in the big leagues this coming season. MLB Pipeline credits his increased fastball velocity as a reason for Montgomery’s late season surge — as it jumped from 88-92 mph to 92-94 mph after his promotion to the RailRaiders.
While Montgomery’s repertoire also features a cutter and a curveball, his changeup is his best out-pitch. Many scouts applaud him for his command of all four pitches, specifically the way his changeup fades away from right handed hitters.
Because of this ability to keep right handed hitters guessing and constantly off-balance, Montgomery succeed almost identically against hitters from both sides of the plate last season. In 2016, righties hit to a .233 AVG/.287 OBP /.303 SLG clip in 425 plate appearances, whereas lefties hit .230 AVG/ .308 OBP/ .353 SLG line in 157 PA’s.
MLB Pipeline currently ranks his pitches: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 50 | Cutter: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45 (50 being the major league average). If Montgomery’s velocity can stay in the mid 90s, he could be a valuable asset to the Yankees rotation.
Along with other youngsters such as Luis Cessa, Bryan Mitchell and Chad Greene, the Yankees —for the first time in several years — have the option to let young pitchers constitute the majority of their rotation.
Next: Options at DH if the Yankees Trade McCann
If Montgomery out-pitches his aforementioned competition in spring training, Yankees fans could very well see the rookie left-hander sporting pinstripes come opening day.