No, not the Jesus Montero who was a Baseball America top-10 prosect for the Yankees and then traded to the Mariners. That’s his older brother. No, really. We’ve got the little brother. This Jesus Montero, 21, signed with the Cardinals in 2007 as a free agent out of Venezuela.
Being just 21, Montero still has plenty time to develop his tools. Last year he split time between Quad Cities and Batavia and put together a combined line of .287/.360/.434, 4 HR, and 25 RBI in 43 games. Though he struggled in his 10 games in Quad Cities. He shows some defensive ability, throwing out 37% of base stealers in his minor league career. He was also a New York Penn league All Star last year.
This will be his fourth year playing in the US after two years playing in the Venezuelan Summer League and then a year in the Dominican Summer League. If he can keep up those hitting numbers, it should only be a matter of time before he breaks a major league roster. But he’s done all that at A ball and below. His real litmus test is yet to come.
The Cardinals’ 6th round pick of the 2011 MLB Draft was catcher Adam Ehrlich. Ehrlich, who turned 20 in December, has yet to jump above rookie ball. He put up impressive numbers last season though, posting a line of .329/.404/.409 with 1 HR and 14 RBI in 42 games.
Now that can mean a few things from he is highly skilled to him simply being more advanced than the pitchers he was facing. All that is possible, but some still say that he may be the best catching prospect in the Cardinals’ system. Scout.com ranked him as the #34 prospect for the organization.
While his bat may still be suspect (I read that his BABIP last year was .400), being in big league camp and getting the opportunity to catch some veteran pitchers can only be a benefit for him. Hopefully he’s got his eyes open, watching and learning from the other catchers who are in camp.
You can find Adam on Twitter at @BigAEhrlich.
The next stop on this tour is left handed pitcher Tyler Lyons. Lyons was selected by the Yankees in the 10th round of the 2009 Major League draft out of Oklahoma State University, but elected not to sign. When he was selected by the Cardinals in the 9th round of the 2010 draft, he would sign though wouldn’t play for the organization in 2010.
He began the 2011 season in the Palm Beach rotation. After 21 relief appearances, he slid into the starting rotation where he has stayed since. Last year he posted a 4.13 ERA and a 9-13 record over 27 starts between Springfield and Memphis. He may have been moved through the system a little faster than beneficial for him, but he will be 25 by the time this season starts, so he is fast aging himself out of prospect status.
As a left handed reliever in the Cardinals’ organization, they’ll need all the talent they can get in that department. An invitation to Spring Training is a big plus for Lyons over some of the other left handers ahead of him in the organization. How he develops this next year will be interesting to watch.
You can follow him on Twitter at @Tyler_Lyons.
Audry Perez signed with the Cardinals in March 2008 as an undrafted free agent from the Dominican Republic. He took off with a boom, hitting .322 in the Dominican Summer League in his first season with the organization.
Perez, 24, moved on to Johnson City in 2009, hitting .258. Then to Batavia in 2010 where things clicked and he posted a .315 batting average in easily his best season in the US. In 2011 he split time between Palm Beach and Springfield, hitting .269 with 11 HR and 47 RBI in 81 games.
In 2012, he was he primary catcher at Springfield for the Cardinals, catching 81 games. His .263/.281/.346 slash line leaves plenty to be desired at the plate, but he appears to be a strong defender, throwing out 42% of would be base stealers last season. Most recently, Scout.com put him as the organization’s #38 prospect.
Perez gets the invite to spring training because of the catching workload early in camp. He will likely return to Springfield for 2013. With many major league teams putting a premium on a catcher’s ability to defensively play the position and manage a game, Perez may have a future on a big league squad somewhere. But it will be for that and not his bat.
Seth Maness was an 11th round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 MLB draft. A right handed pitcher out of East Carolina. He was a middle infielder when he started his collegiate career, but was converted to pitcher after injury struck the Pirates’ starting rotation. He was Conference USA’s Pitcher of the Year in 2010.
Maness, 24, compiled an 14-4 record over 7 starts in Palm Beach and 20 more in Springfield. His combined ERA was 2.97. He was awarded the organization’s Pitcher of the Year Award after the season. I’m not sure if you could really call it a breakout season for the young right hander considering he posted a 1.53 ERA over 53 innings between Batavia, Quad Cities, and Palm Beach in 2011.
Maness is known for his control. In fact over his 223 innings in his minor league career he has only walked 15 batters. That control is his best asset. His other tools make him a fringe-type player on most prospect lists, but keeping guys off base is half the battle. If he keeps learning he could surprising quite a few people and end up being a Kyle Lohse type in my opinion.
If Twitter is your thing, you can find him @Maness_43.