SURPRISE AZ - FEBRUARY 23: Mike Montgomery #65 of the Kansas City Royals poses for a portrait during Spring Training Media Day on February 23 2011 at Surprise Stadium in Surprise Arizona.. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Last night was Mike Montgomery's eighth start for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals and it was much like the first seven. He allowed 10 base runners in 5 innings and the opponents plated 4 runs. All of this came after being demoted from Omaha where he posted a 5.69 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP in 17 starts.
The Royals hoped that a demotion would allow Montgomery to find his legs and regain the form which had him as a top prospect in baseball a couple of years ago. He hasn't just not improved upon being demoted, but in fact has almost identical numbers.
AAA - 6.58
AA - 6.26
AAA - 4.22
AA - 3.72
AAA - .298
AA - .299
He's still walking too many, not striking out enough and making the average Minor Leaguer look like Tony Gwynn. Nothing about that is encouraging. I haven't personally been able to see Mike Montgomery to give my opinion on what exactly is wrong, but his strikeout rate is at a career low and his home run rate is at a career high. The bottom line is that if you want to trade the bus in the Minors for the private jet of the Majors, you have to miss bats.
The kid is only 23, so it's not exactly time to write his entire career off, but it's certainly time to reevaluate. While he was once looked upon as a future ace, it's now uncertain whether he'll ever make the man roster. What is most disappointing is that it just seemed to disappear. No major injuries, just a precipitous decline in effectiveness.
There are a million different things someone could point to as the reason for the decline, b
ut in the end it's the results that matter. In just two years, the Royals have gone from having a number of top pitching prospects to almost none. The best shot they have right now is a Jake Odorizzi, who they got in the Greinke trade.
I don't know what to make of all this. Maybe the Royals are terrible at developing pitching or they're terrible at keeping pitchers healthy. In the end they're looking down the barrel of another half-decade or more without having even a solid rotation. Once again they're snatching terribleness out of the claws of mediocrity.
Another prospect who the fanbase has pinned it's hopes upon looks to have the upside of a late inning reliever. Something which is easy to get and even easier to develop. On the other hand, guys have turned things around. Pitchers have come from the brink of leaving the game to be solid or better starting pitchers. We know that at one time, Mike Montgomery had it. Maybe he can find it again. It's why so many people enjoy following the minors. It's a source of fascinating stories, surprising plot twists and occasionally a superstar can emerge. Just look at Eric Hosmer....err, well maybe not.
- Nick Scott