When one thinks about the greatest relievers in baseball, a few names jump out at you: Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Trever Hoffman, and of course the great Mariano Rivera. Well what if I told you that the New York Yankees have an arm down in the minors who has all the potential to be one of the game’s great relief pitchers?
Surely with the Yankees recent history of pitching prospects, one would be hesitant to believe me. However, Mark Montgomery has all the tools to be a successful relief pitcher – and could probably proclaim himself to be the real successor to Mariano Rivera’s throne once he makes it to the Majors.
It really is unfair that Montgomery was not put into the latest top ten list of Yankees prospects. He has been truly amazing in his appearances in whatever level of baseball he’s playing. After being drafted in the 11th round of the 2011 draft, it’s safe to say that no team expected him to be as good as he is. This past season, he was playing with both the Tampa Yankees and Trenton Thunder. Down in A-ball, he posted a 4-1 record with an ERA of 1.34 in 31 games. He also struck out 61 batters in a little over 40 innings pitched. After being promoted to AA Trenton, Montgomery showed no signs of slowing down. He posted a 3-1 record with a 1.88 ERA in 15 games. He also accumulated 38 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched. Those are numbers so effective, that not even Mariano Rivera himself could post them at any point in his minor league career.
Montgomery is so effective because of his slider. Scouts say that his slider is on par, if not better, than a slider that you would see a major league pitcher throw. It is his out pitch, and he makes hitters look foolish when they chase at it.
The Yankees sent Montgomery to play with other notable prospects from other teams in the Arizona Fall League. In just a little over ten innings pitched, Montgomery struck out 19 batters while posting a solid 2.61 ERA.
It is only a matter of time before Montgomery makes his debut in the Bronx – and with the way he has been progressing through the minor leagues – it will be sooner rather than later. So fear not Yankees fans, the potential heir to Mariano Rivera is on his way.
Follow Hunter Farman on Twitter @hfarman1