SJK: The Yankees vehemently insist Montero can catch. In fact, Cashman said he's a better defensive catcher than some guys in the bigs right now. What's the opinion of the general scouting community, and has he improved defensively?
JM: Not sure what else Cashman is supposed to say; is he supposed to degrade the value of his top prospect by saying, "Well, he's not really a catcher." The consensus is (and frankly has been for the last two years) that Montero has improved, but will never be an average defender.
He's got plus raw arm strength, but a slow, inconsistent release. He's become more flexible and agile behind the plate, but is who he is -- a behemoth for a catcher. He's just big, in a better way now, but still big. I believe he can catch in the majors, but it would always be "adequate," and he would be an asset for his offense, not his defense.
Comparing him to Mike Piazza, he has a better arm but is a lesser receiver. He's never been held up as a guy who is great at handling pitchers, either. It's hard to get that type of info, and that's a story I'm trying to work on --how different is it for minor league catchers to handle minor league pitchers vs. major league pitchers. But, I've talked to a couple of Yanks' pitchers over the years on teams that have had Montero, and no one ever has stuck his neck out to say he's a joy to work with, or that he handles pitchers well or catches them well.
Monday, February 7, 2011
The interview, which can be found in its entirety here, is chock full of interesting information. Manuel discusses the state of the system as a whole, Montero, Romine, Culver, the pitching depth, and a great deal more - I highly recommend checking it out. Here's an excerpt on Montero's ability to remain behind the plate: