Adam Foster of Project Prospect thinks so , and heaps a ton of praise on the 20-year old. He says that, "we see Jesus Montero as a potential once-in-a-generation hitter. And to us, that gives him the edge over Santana and Posey, even though Montero is a poor bet to stick at catcher."
That last note is the only reason this is debatable. If offensive talent is all that is being discussed, Jesus Montero wins hands down.
Offense is only part of the picture, though. Most scouts don't believe that Montero will be able stick at catcher, but there are a minority who do.
The way I look at it is that he's just 20 years old and the Yankees will give him every chance to remain at catcher, hoping he becomes an adequate one. If not, it seems like his likely position is first base or designated hitter.
There is the chance that he gets tried out in a corner outfield spot, but he doesn't have the mobility to cover the necessary ground out there.
In the comments, Foster continues to point out just how impressive an offensive player Montero is. He talks about how Montero's strikeout rate is well below the average Double-A player, and he is still so young.
His contact ability, along with his expected power project to create a hitting monster. As a hitter, Montero is right up there with Jason Heyward, the Braves' prospect who is probably the best hitter in the minors.
While Foster does state that he doesn't believe Montero will stick at catcher, he doesn't address the ramifications of that.
Let's say that No. 2 ranked Carlos Santana arrives in the majors as an average defensive catcher, and Montero arrives as an average first baseman. In order for Montero to hold more value than Santana, he would need to put up 25 extra batting runs.
That is a pretty stark difference, and one that is very difficult to assume. This is the primary reason I think the Yankees should do everything that they can to keep Montero at catcher.
The difference on the defensive spectrum is so huge that even if Montero is a well below average catcher (-10 runs defensively), the Yankees will probably get more value out of him when he's behind the plate.
Add in the fact that Mark Teixeira is at first base and designated hitters are always available, it's a no-brainer to keep Montero at catcher as long as possible.
Back to the original argument, is Jesus Montero the best catching prospect in baseball? I'd have to say no, because I just can't get myself to project him as being 25 offensive runs better than the next best catching prospect.
Hopefully Montero can stick at catcher, but if not, the Yankees have other talent in the pipeline.
I asked Foster if Austin Romine was close to making the list, and he said that it was very hard to leave him off, but the level of catching talent in the minors was high enough to warrant it.
It's fair to say that the Yankees have a top 5 catching prospect and a top 20 catching prospect, putting them in good shape for the future.
And this is before even discussing guys like Kyle Higashioka and Gary Sanchez...
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