Rafael Montero will be making his big league debut Wednesday, and could be one of the best young fourth starters in baseball for some time.
The New York Mets have Matt Harvey on the mend and Zack Wheeler is already in the big leauges. They also have Noah Syndergaard at Triple-A who is widely considered the Mets top prospect, but it is Montero that is getting the call.
So far this season, in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, Montero is 4-1 with an ERA of 3.67 and just about a strikeout per inning. The 23-year old Montero did not follow the traditional path of most Dominican ballplayers. Instead of signing a contract during the first signing period after his 16th birthday, he did not receive a pro contract until he was 20.
In his first pro season, he moved through four different leagues, then two each of the following seasons, and will be continuing that trend, only this time the second level he will pitch at in 2014 is the big leagues. His first start will come in the Subway Series with the Mets hosting the New York Yankees on Wednesday evening, where his oppo0sing pitcher will be Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka.
Montero is not a big pitcher, just 6′ and 185 lbs., nor is he a power pitcher as he sits in the low-90s, occasionally touching 95 on the gun. He has a really good change with some arm-side movement and a decent slider. His biggest tool is his command, as he has struck out more than four times the number of batters he has walked, and he can locate all three of his pitches.
Montero will not wow anyone with pure stuff, but he should be a very solid pitcher. He has the upside of a quality third starter, but in the Mets rotation, he will probably fit in as a number four long term, giving the Mets an excellent rotation for the foreseeable future.