COMMENTARY | The New York Yankees are known right now for having a boatload of prospects in the lower levels of the minor leagues, but not a lot that are ready for a call to the show.
One of those who appears to be ready, though, is right-handed reliever Mark Montgomery, who is toying with hitters at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre right now the same way he blew away hitters at two levels of the minors in 2012.
Montgomery made his sixth appearance for the Triple-A RailRiders on Wednesday, April 24, throwing two hitless innings at the Columbus Clippers while surviving three walks.
However, in 10 innings, those three walks quadrupled his season total to four. He's struck out 16, meanwhile, and allowed just five hits (one of them a home run) and hitters are mustering just a .147 average to this point. He has an ERA of 0.90 and his WHIP is an identically microscopic 0.90.
Montgomery is a surprising gem. Just 22 years old, Montgomery was an 11th round pick in the amateur draft out of Longwood University in Farmville, Va. But as a reliever in the New York minor league system, he has been dazzling.
He so over-matched hitters at the short-season Class A level while pitching for Staten Island shortly after he was drafted that he stayed there just four games. He pitched four innings, struck out 10 hitters and allowed just three hits and a run.
He continued to blow away hitters at Class-A Charleston for the rest of the summer, posting a 1.85 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 24.1 innings, allowing 17 hits and striking out 41.
He started last season at High-A Tampa and in 40.1 innings saved 14 games in 31 appearances while striking out 61. His ERA was 1.34 and his WHIP a ridiculously low 0.97.
At Double-A Trenton, Montgomery really struggled. He even allowed a home run and everything. Of course, he also fanned 38 batters in 24 innings, allowed only 12 hits and had an ERA of 1.88 to go with a video-game-esque WHIP of 0.75.
Last fall, he had a successful stint in the Arizona Fall League. Facing a lot of prospects who were further along in their careers than he was, Montgomery allowed only five hits in 10.1 innings, finishing the season with a 2.61 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP to go with 19 strikeouts.
He might have had a shot at making the big-league bullpen in spring training, but was sent to Triple-A despite impressing opposing managers with his devastating slider.
Montgomery's time could very easily be now, considering the struggles in the Yankee bullpen right now. Joba Chamberlain boasts (if you want to use that word) a WHIP of a staggering 2.05 right now, with seven hits and six walks in just 6.1 innings. Shawn Kelley has been getting knocked around more than a set of wind chimes in a hurricane, allowing seven runs (all earned) in 9.2 innings.
It's time to see what Montgomery can do at the next level. It's hard to imagine he could be worse than some of the guys who are already there.
Phil Watson is a freelance journalist and commentator based in upper Michigan who covers the New York Yankees for the Yahoo Contributor Network.
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