RAMIREZ AND MONTERO SET TO SHOWCASE YANKEES, METS FUTURE IN TRENTON
Added by Matt Kardos on May 7, 2013.
These days, the futures of both the New York Mets and Yankees seem to be forecasted in completely different lights. Many baseball pundits will say that the Mets future is bright due large in part to the projected success of their young plethora of starting pitchers like Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey, among others. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Yankees lack of success at producing front-line starting pitchers from their farm system over the course of the last few years has put the organizations ability to sustain prolonged success in serious question.
On Tuesday night when the Thunder play host to the Binghamton Mets at Arm & Hammer Park, both franchises will showcase two key components to their futures when they present one of the premiere pitching duels of the season in the Eastern League. Trenton will summon the electric Jose Ramirez (0-0 0.00 ERA), ranked as the Bombers 13th overall organizational prospect, to the mound to take on the Mets eighth ranked prospect in Rafael Montero (3-2 3.41 ERA) who has over-matched offenses across the league all season long.
Thunder pitcher Jose Ramirez is yet to surrender an earned run this season.
Ramirez will be making his second start of the season for Trenton after spending the first three weeks of the season on the disabled list with what he described as shoulder fatigue. After sticking around in Tampa when camp broke the team headed north, Ramirez has garnered league wide attention for his dominance since joining Trenton less than two weeks ago.
In his first action of the season on April 26, Thunder Manager Tony Franklin opted to use Ramirez out of the bullpen in a piggy-back situation, pitching in relief of starter Nik Turkley. Ramirez threw four scoreless frames that night against Portland, allowing just two hits while striking out six and earning the save.
When the rotation went through its next cycle, Franklin handed Ramirez the ball for his first Double-A start on May 1 against New Hampshire. As he did in his first appearance, Ramirez demonstrated the ability to consistently command a 94 mph. fastball with tons of movement along with a change-up that takes a drastic dip in velocity from the heater and a wicked slider that falls off the table. The 23-year old Dominican product stifled the Fisher Cats for five innings, allowing just one hit and an unearned run while fanning six. Through nine innings of work since being activated from the DL, Ramirez has allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out 12.
“His slider and change-up both have lots of depth to them,” said Franklin. “He gets a lot of swings and misses, that’s for sure. He’s got good arm speed, he’s got good rhythm on his pitches and its kind of hard to distinguish between the fastball, change-up or slider.”
Thunder first baseman Kyle Roller played Single-A ball with Ramirez for the Tampa Yankees last season and witnessed first hand what he is capable of doing.
“That guy is unreal,” said Roller. “He’s got a lively arm, he’s got a plus, plus change-up. In spring training, I’m never happy to face him.”
Montero sometimes gets lost in conversation because of all the attention garnered to the other Mets pitching gems like Wheeler and Harvey but it was Montero who was the Mets Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2012. Prior to his last start on May 1 where he got roughed up in Erie to the tune of seven earned runs on 10 hits over 6.2 innings, Montero was the Eastern League leader in most pitching categories.
Rafael Montero has dominated the Eastern League in 2013. Trenton will provide a tough test as he is coming off his first bad start of the year.
After being raved about all spring by General Manager Sandy Alderson and Owner Fred Wilpon, Montero has gone out and demonstrated a poise and composure not typically found in a 22-year old pitcher experiencing the Double-A level for the first time. Most young pitching prospects all have good stuff but spend their time in the minor league trying to work on strike zone command. In the case of Montero, he not only comes equipped with an impressive arsenal of plus pitches but an advanced ability to control all of them.
“Montero is the best pitcher in this league this year, in my opinion” an NL East scout told me last week in Trenton. “The best thing about that kid is that he throws strikes, has the ability to miss bats at a high rate and even when guys do make contact off of him, his pitches are so crisp they either pop it up or pound it into the ground.”
Through six starts, Montero has gone 34.1 innings and struck out 40 batters while walking just four. Yes, that’s right, just four. Montero had given up just six runs through his first five starts, before allowing seven earned in his most recent outing last week. That disastrous start caused his ERA to inflate by nearly 1.5 runs when it went from 2.05 to 3.41. After looking human for the first time on the young season, it will be interesting to see how Montero responds to adversity, something we have not had to see from him up to this point.