After blowing a one-run lead in the seventh inning on Sunday, the Tampa Yankees put a tied game in the hands of 21-year-old reliever Mark Montgomery. He faced three batters in the eighth inning, three more in the ninth, and struck out all six of them. The Yankees walked off with a win a half inning later.
“I haven’t seen anybody say anything about this guy,” Yankees vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said. “This guy is worth paying attention to.”
The Yankees took a bunch of good young relievers in last year’s draft — Newman also mentions Branden Pinder and Philip Wetherell as legitimate standouts — but it’s clear that Montgomery has the Yankees attention, and it’s probably time that he grabs your attention as well.
Signed out of Longwood University in Virginia, Montgomery has some in the Yankees organization wondering if he’s the next Dave Robertson. Like Robertson, he’s racking up massive strikeout totals in the minors — 86 through 50.1 professional innings so far — and he’s poised to move quickly like Robertson.
The outpitch, though, isn’t a Robertson curveball, it’s a hard-breaking slider that has confused several scouts. Newman said he’s seen some reports that call it a split, and some that suggest he throws both a slider and a split.
“It’s a slider that’s hard and very straight down at like a 45-degree angle break,” Newman said. “… This guy’s legit. The numbers tell you he’s legitimate, but the stuff is more than pretty good.”