Montero with the Seattle Mariners
Seattle Mariners – No. 63
|First Baseman / Catcher / Designated Hitter|
November 28, 1989 |
|September 1, 2011 for the New York Yankees|
(through 2013 season)
|Runs batted in||83|
Jesús Alejandro Montero Lopez (born November 28, 1989) is a Venezuelan professional baseball catcher and designated hitter in the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball. He was originally signed by the New York Yankees before being traded to the Mariners for top prospect Michael Pineda.
In 2007 at age 17 Montero made his professional debut for the Gulf Coast Yankees. As a result of his performance he was invited to the Yankees 2008 Spring Training, where he hit a home run in his only at bat before being assigned to minor league camp. He spent the 2008 season with the Class A Charleston RiverDogs, where he batted .326 with 17 home runs and 87 RBI, with 2 stolen bases.
He began 2009 with the Tampa Yankees, the Class A-Advanced Florida State League affiliate of the Yankees, but on June 3, 2009, Montero was promoted to the Double-A Trenton Thunder. Despite having played only a portion of the 2009 season in Trenton, Montero was added to the Eastern League All-Star roster. He was named the Yankees' second best prospect for 2009 and the third best prospect in baseball by Baseball America. He was named to the All-Star Futures Game for the second year in a row, which features baseball's best minor league prospects. Montero's season ended prematurely when he sustained a broken finger while catching.
Montero was named the Yankees' best prospect for 2010 by Baseball America and the fifth best in all of baseball. He was invited to spring training, where Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long declared him ready for the Majors as a hitter, though the team wanted to see improvement on defense. Montero spent the 2010 season with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Early in the season, Montero struggled, but he improved after the All-Star break. He was named to the International League All-Star game the Postseason All-Star team, and was chosen as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Player of the Year.
At the 2010 MLB trade deadline, the Yankees and Seattle Mariners almost completed a deal that would have sent Montero, Zach McAllister, and David Adams to the Mariners for Cliff Lee. When the teams shared medical reports, the Mariners were concerned by Adams' health. As a result, they chose to trade Lee to the Texas Rangers in a package centered around Justin Smoak.
Montero contended for a spot on the Yankees' 25-man roster in 2011 spring training. Yankees officials believed Montero was ready to be the starting catcher, which would have enabled Jorge Posada to shift to designated hitter, though the signing of Russell Martin allowed the Yankees to be patient with Montero. A spring training injury to Francisco Cervelli gave the Yankees an opportunity to use Montero as Martin's backup, but they decided to have Montero begin the 2011 season in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
New York Yankees (2011)
Montero was promoted to the Yankees on September 1, 2011. He started his first major league game that same day as the designated hitter against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Montero went 0-4 and was hit by a pitch, but scored the go-ahead run when he was driven in by Yankees catcher Russell Martin in the seventh inning. He made his first start at Yankee Stadium on September 3, 2011, against the Toronto Blue Jays. He went 1-3, hitting a single to left field in the 6th inning with 2 outs for his first major league hit. On Labor Day of September 5, 2011, during a game against the Baltimore Orioles, Montero hit his first two home runs of his Major League career and the Yankees took an 11–10 victory.
Montero became the first 21-year-old rookie to hit two home runs in one of his first five games game since Manny Ramirez did in 1993. Montero started his first game as a catcher against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on September 11. Against the Red Sox on September 24, Montero fell a triple short of hitting for the cycle. Montero ended the year with a .328 batting average, which included four home runs.
Seattle Mariners (2012–present)
Montero was the opening day designated hitter and split time between catcher and designated hitter during the season, in which he played 135 games. His best game of the season occurred on August 12, when he contributed 0.38 to the team's win probability; his worst game occurred against Baltimore, September 18, when he cost the team .39 wins. Despite the high expectations he established with the Yankees in 2011, he was not a rookie of the year finalist. Montero finished the 2012 season with a .260 batting average, 15 home runs, and 62 RBI.
Montero began his 2013 season slowly as he compiled only a .208 batting average, 3 home runs, and 9 RBI in his first 29 games played. He was demoted to the Triple-A Tacoma Rainers on May 23, 2013. With Tacoma in 2013, he played first base for the first time in his professional career. On June 1, it was announced that Montero had sustained a torn meniscus in his left knee. Needing surgery to repair it, Montero was ruled out of any active competition for a period of four to six weeks.
On August 5, 2013, Montero accepted a 50-game suspension for his involvement the Biogenesis baseball scandal, by which the Biogenesis of America clinic supplied performance-enhancing drugs to MLB players.
Montero showed up for 2014 spring training 40 pounds over his target weight. He said, "After winter ball, all I did was eat." Mariners' general manager Jack Zduriencik said he has "zero expectations" about Montero. He spent much of the season in the minor leagues. In a game against the Boise Hawks, Montero was involved in an altercation with roving instructor Butch Baccala. Baccala, serving as the first base coach for the Everett AquaSox, asked Montero to leave the field in a timely manner at the conclusion of an inning. Baccala then sent an ice cream sandwich to the dugout for Montero. Montero was not happy to be reminded of his earlier weight problem. He grabbed a bat, found Baccala in the stands, and threw the sandwich at Baccala while yelling expletives. The Mariners organization barred Montero from playing the rest of the 2014 season for this incident. Zduriencik stated:
"First off, it is clear that both Jesus Montero and Butch Baccala engaged in behavior that is far below what we expect from members of our organization, including bad judgment at nearly every stage of this incident. I want to apologize on behalf of the Mariners franchise to the Boise Hawks and their fans. We recognize that fans, including children, were impacted by this incident, and the language that was used. We recognize the severity of this incident, and want to assure the Hawks and their fans that it will be dealt with appropriately."
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