Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Joe Mauer on Montero

I stumbled across this article in the New York Times this morning, and I thought it was quite interesting.
When Joe Mauer came up in the Minnesota Twins’ minor league system, he stood out with his talent. He also stood out with his height — 6 feet 5 inches – a fact that had some people skeptical that he could make it in the majors as a catcher. Mauer, 27, sees those same developmental questions facing the Yankees’ top catching prospect, Jesus Montero, who is 6-4, 225 pounds.

“Too big. Not quick enough. I heard everything under the sun,” Mauer, who recently signed on as a spokesman for Head & Shoulders, said in a phone interview.

Some baseball observers feel that tall catchers are limited in their flexibility, and that someone like Montero would be better off switching to another position like first base, outfield or designated hitter.

But Mauer, who has won three Gold Gloves to go along with three batting titles and a Most Valuable Player award, has proved that height is not a hindrance for catchers with ability, and Montero, like Mauer, is a talented hitter. “I’ve heard a lot about him,” Mauer said of the 20-year-old Montero. “I’m excited to see him.”

Mauer was told about Montero’s insistence about making the majors as a catcher.

“That’s good,” Mauer said. “He might find that everyone wants to throw their two cents in. But I really enjoyed the position and that was not going to stop me.”

Montero will be given a chance to make the Yankees in spring training.

“My advice to him is try and learn as much as you can,” Mauer said. “He’s lucky he has Jorge Posada, a pretty good catcher to learn from.

“And he has Russell Martin there now, too, another good one to help him. Those two guys that have been around the block. He should follow those guys around and learn as much as he can.”

When Mauer began his major league career, he made a point of learning everything about his pitchers, including how they think. He advises Montero to do the same.

“It’s important to get to know your customers,” Mauer said.

“Know your staff and the little things that they respond to. You have to learn the pitchers and what they are capable of doing and not doing. Try to put your pitchers in the best situations they can to succeed.”
With Montero's scorching line drives in his Spring Training debut fresh in my mind, this reading increased my anticipation for this season and the future into overdrive. It's difficult to rectify this with pragmatism, and while I don't quite expect Montero to set the world on fire I cannot remember the last time I was this excited about an offensive prospect.

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