Elehuris Montero, 1B/3B, COL

One of the prospects brought over in the Arenado trade, Elehuris Montero has stepped up in a big way in 2021. Can we trust the numbers?

Video courtesy of FanGraphs
  • Born: August 17, 1998
  • B/T: Right/Right
  • 6’3″, 235-lbs
  • Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2015 out of the Dominican Republic

The Numbers

His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:

Elehuris (eh-LAU-rees) Montero had a rotten 2019. Not only did wrist injuries completely rob his power, he was so swing happy he averaged only about 2.5 pitches per plate appearance. No power and swing happy is no way to go through life, son.

2021 shows what a healthy Montero is capable of. In roughly the same number of plate appearances as he had in Double-A in 2019, the comparison is stark. The Hard% jumped to a great level. His walk rate doubled (see what happens when you get patient), his strikeout rate dropped considerably to a decent level, and his power spiked along with his OBP.

As I say in my book:

“If you are a corner infield prospect (1B or 3B), you are already lower on the defense spectrum than the SS or OF prospects. So if you are a prospect who didn’t do much until you suddenly come alive in High-A, but that’s the Cal League, and you’re just a corner infielder, don’t get too excited. Let him do it in AA the next year too before you completely buy in. 

This is especially the case with corner infielders on the Lancaster JetHawks team, the Colorado Rockies Class-A Advanced team, or on the Asheville Tourists in A-ball. You can just drool over that suddenly hot-hitting third baseman, can’t you? Well, wait for him to do it with the Hartford Yard Goats when he gets to the AA Eastern League before you start to drool.”

“Visual Guide to minor leaguers” by Nick Richards

Now it’s no longer the Eastern League, it’s the Double-A Northeast League, and Montero was in the Cardinals’ organization in 2019 and thus not with Asheville, and yes, the entire minor league organization structure changed this year, so I will be updating my book for the 2022 edition to come out before spring 2022.

But the point I was making is that some minor league parks enhance batter stats, and if you are a corner infielder you are already down the defensive value spectrum, so you’d better hit. But you need to hit in a neutral park before we believe in your bat. Hartford is a better place to judge talent, and it’s in Hartford where Montero has suddenly come back to life. Believe it.

The right-handed hitting Montero is smoking left-handed pitching, but he’s doing acceptably against righties too. A .342 OBP against RHP will work.

We don’t have 2021 data in Savant, but even though through 2019 he shown mostly pull power, he did hit a few home runs the opposite way, and this year he has much more power. And note that doubles were hit all over the field.

There’s that wrist injury in 2019. Just a lost year.

Where is his OPS in 2021? It’s .873, thank you very much.

The Scouts

Warnings

The scouts are just now warming back up to Montero again, creeping up on the lists.

He’s a corner outfielder.

He now plays for an organization that is often reluctant to play the kids. On the other hand, the Rockies seem to trade away veteran bats, so spots open up. Even if Michael Toglia is more likely to become the 1B of the future for the Rox, 3B should be open enough for Montero to get some playing time when he is ready.

Conclusion

Montero fell off the map in 2019, and then 2020 fell off our maps, and now he’s showing what the Cardinals saw in him, and what the Rockies saw in his potential when they traded for him.

Power, along with on-base ability, and now an ability to draw walks, leads to good things. After parts of two years spent at Double-A (albeit one of those years injured), he looks ready to try Triple-A soon. The majors are not far behind.

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