There was a point in time that Rafael Montero was a well regarded prospect. He was once going to force Jacob deGrom into a bullpen role. Now, the only thing we know is the Mets can’t rely upon him right now.
In many ways, 2016 is going to be a make or break year for Montero. Somewhat unfairly the organization turned sour on him last year. He went on the DL in April with shoulder tightness. He was found to have rotator cuff inflammation, which effectively ended his year. In August, he tried to rehab the injury and make some minor league starts, but he again had to be shut down.
This year, Terry Collins wants to challenge Montero as the Mets believe there was really nothing wrong with Montero. Symbolically, the Mets let Montero make the first start in Spring Training on the road against the Nationals.
It didn’t go well. Montero threw 39 pitches in only one inning. He walked four, gave up two hits, and allowed two runs. Not the best of starts. It’s not how he wanted the Spring with the Mets challenging him to be better this year.
At the end of the day, one start shouldn’t mean much. He can go out the rest of Spring Training and pitch very well. He could begin the year in AAA and pitch very well. He could become an injury replacement or spot starter in the rotatio. He could join the bullpen during the year.
There will be opportunities for someone. However, that someone is increasingly becoming someone other than Montero. Last year, Montero was surpassed by Sean Gilmartin and Logan Verrett. They’re likely going to get the first call for spot starts or bullpen work assuming they don’t make come north with the club.
Putting that aside, what was more troubling for Montero was the work of Gabriel Ynoa. He came into the game right after Montero flopped. He threw three scoreless innings and impressed Terry Collins:
Terry Collins says he was very impressed with Gabriel Ynoa today. pic.twitter.com/mSTNgVOFTo
— New York Mets (@Mets) March 3, 2016
Ynoa is a well regarded prospect. He’s ticketed for AAA this year. If yesterday is any indication, it appears that Ynoa is inching past Montero if he hasn’t done so already. While we shouldn’t put too much stock into one Spring Training game, the results today were important. The Mets wanted to challenge Montero to rise to the occasion. Instead, the Mets walked away being impressed with Ynoa.
The problem wasn’t that Montero had a rough outing. The problem is that yet again another Mets pitcher took advantage of an opportunity given to them that was preceded by a Montero failure.