Mets fans may be wondering, “What’s up with Rafael Montero?”
Baseball America’s fifth-ranked Mets prospect in 2013 was recently demoted from Triple-A Las Vegas to Double-A Binghamton.
“He’s trying to be a little bit too fine,” said B-Mets pitching coach Glenn Abbott. “He’s trying to make perfect pitches. The next thing you know you’re behind in the count. Now you’ve got to throw strikes, and now it’s too much plate.
“And so it’s a vicious circle that eats you up.”
Named Sterling Organizational Pitcher of the Year in 2012, that season in Class-A Montero went 11-5 with a 2.36 ERA, 119 strikeouts and just 19 walks. Between Double-A and Triple-A in 2013, the Dominican native was 12-7 with a 2.78 ERA, 150 strikeouts and only 35 walks.
Montero, 25, has struggled since. He was 1-3 with a 4.06 ERA for the Mets in 2014 in 10 games, starting eight. A swollen rotator cuff ended his season last April. At Vegas this year, he was 4-6 with a 7.20 ERA in 16 starts, with an alarming 40 walks in 80 innings.
Post-injury Montero favored his shoulder.
“I think he did that a little bit. He’s just kind of feeling his way back,” said Abbott, who also believes the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League impacted Montero.
“So he got a little bit defensive, I think,” Abbott said. “And he wasn’t as aggressive as he was. He was always very aggressive as a pitcher.”
In three Binghamton starts, Montero is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA. In Monday’s 1-0 loss to Reading, he allowed one run, two hits, striking out six and walking none in seven innings.
Having coached him at Binghamton three years ago, Abbott says Montero has gotten underneath his pitches, dropping his elbow too low.
“He just needs to get back to where he was about being aggressive and attacking the zone,” Abbott said. “And he’s got to even get better with his secondary pitches.”
Good outings will help greatly.
“That’s where he is right now,” Abbott said. “Trying to get himself a little confidence and get himself back on track.”