COMMENTARY | New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson claims he will be active before the 2013 non-waiver trade deadline. To make a deal for an outfielder, he will likely have to part with one of the organization's top young starting pitchers in the minor leagues. In order to acquire one with power potential, Triple-A pitcher Rafael Montero is New York's best trade chip.
The right-handed pitcher is the eighth-best prospect in the Mets' system, according to MLB.com. This is only his third professional season, but he's done nothing but succeed at each level he's played at. The 2012 Sterling Organizational Pitcher of the Year has never finished a season with an ERA over 2.50, while showing excellent control of his pitches.
Montero was recently promoted to Triple-A, but he has done plenty to show his dominance in Double-A with the Binghamton Mets. In 11 starts, Montero put together a 7-3 record with a 2.43 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 72 strikeouts, and 10 walks in 66.2 innings pitched. He'll be making his third start for the Las Vegas 51s on June 20. In 12 innings pitched in the Pacific Coast League, he owns a 2.25 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.
If Sandy Alderson is looking to acquire a power-hitting major-league outfielder, he'll have to offer a package including talent that could be considered ready for the big leagues. While a pitcher like Noah Syndergaard is a name teams would be interested in, it will be at least a couple years before he's ready to make that jump to the next level. Syndergaard is currently pitching for the Class-A St. Lucie Mets.
Montero would be attractive to potential trade partners for a few reasons. His skills are the most developed out of any other available top pitching prospect in the organization. He's built the reputation to throw strikes, and he's had extreme success wherever he's played since signing with New York in 2011.
Through 271.2 career innings pitched, Montero has only allowed 213 hits and 43 walks. His career WHIP is 0.94, and his BB/9 is 1.4. While he can be viewed as a control-type pitcher, his K/9 over the last three years stands at 8.6. His fastball usually comes in anywhere from 90-92 miles per hour, but late movement results in those strikeouts. He also has a slider and changeup that are developed enough to use in any situation.
Teams looking for a young strike-thrower for either their starting rotation or bullpen could see Montero as a worthy investment. He's only 22 years old and can provide depth to a pitching staff for 2013 and beyond.
For the Mets, Montero is their best prospect to center a deal around in trade talks because he could provide an immediate return to a team giving up a major leaguer. Offering up Montero alone won't bring a big bat to New York, but using him as the centerpiece of a deal is a strategy that could work.
Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue, Mets Merized Online, and Rising Apple. He currently serves as Executive Editor of MetsMinors.net.
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