A 2014 fourth-round pick of the Yankees out of South Carolina, where he played for three seasons and threw a durable 253.2 IP, Montgomery is a big man, every bit his 6’6” listed height and with long levers to work with. The 23-year-old left-hander has made regular progress through the Yankees’ system, and while he is 3-0 in his first four starts at the Double-A level this year, his early season performance has been up-and-down. Sandwiched between two starts where he gave up seven earned runs over 10 IP, he’s thrown two solid outings of six-inning, shutout ball. This viewing was one of them, where he scattered four singles and a double, walked one, and struck out five over six innings in a 6-1 win over the Akron RubberDucks in Trenton on April 23rd.
Montgomery has a well-balanced delivery for his size, showing moderate effort and a long, easy arm action that shows the ball on the back side of his delivery. His fastball generally lacked movement, but it did show occasional arm-side run, sitting the 90-to-92 mph range. But when coming from his 6’6” frame, the fastball is effectively coming down from the clouds with extreme downhill plane, and it plays up for that reason by changing the eye level of hitters. The same was true of the cut variety of his fastball, which was sitting in the 88-to-90 mph range showed late dart down and in to RHH from that same extreme plane. He had command of both versions, and overall, the fastball graded as an above-average pitch.
His changeup was his primary secondary offering, sitting 81-to-83 mph, and it was an above-average offering as well, thrown with the consistent arm action and the same release point as that of his fastball, and showing late sinking, or parachuting, life that led to three front-foot swinging strikeouts in the first two innings. His third pitch was a curveball that sat 77-to-79 mph and it was thrown in any count, but it was lacking control in this viewing and was not an effective pitch, though it did flash some depth. With runners on, he was showing consistently above-average 1.19-1.22 second release times, keeping the running game under control (he’s given up just a single stolen base so far this year over 22 innings and 24 hits allowed).
Montgomery has been pitching to contact at an increasing rate, as opposing hitters are hitting .286 this year in his limited Double-A innings. His Ks-per-9 IP have dropped with each move from Class A Charleston (11.3), to High A Tampa (7.6), and now Double-A Trenton (5.7), and his WHIP has risen with each promotion as well (1.10, 1.17, 1.45), so he’ll benefit from some additional seasoning at Trenton for now, building innings, working on sequencing his pitches, and hopefully working on his curveball to round out his arsenal. We should expect to see more consistent results as the season progresses, and with continued development of the curveball in particular, the overall profile could lead to Montgomery becoming the back-end of the rotation starter that the Yankees likely projected him as when they picked him in 2014. – Mark Shreve