Pinstriped Profile: Mark Montgomery

Height: 6 – 0
Weight: 210
Bats: R
Throws: R
Age: 25 (8/30/90)

Mark Montgomery is one of the more interesting relief prospects in the Yankees farm system. He entered the Yankees organization in 2011, when he signed as a 11th round pick out of Longwood University in the First Year Player Draft. In three collegiate seasons for the Longwood Lancers, he set school records for ERA, saves, and least hits allowed per 9 innings. Montgomery was initially recruited as a shortstop out of Bruton High School in Virginia, where he was a three-sport student athlete.

Once drafted, Montgomery quickly signed and was sent to the Staten Island Yankees (Class A Short Season). He appeared in just 4 games before earning a promotion to the Charleston RiverDogs (Class A). Montgomery struck out 10 batters while walking two, allowing just three hits and one run in 4.0 innings pitched. In Charleston, he held hitters to a .183 average, struck out 41, walked 11, and allowed just five earned runs in 24.1 innings pitched.

In 2012, Montgomery pitched across two minor league levels, beginning his season with the Single-A (Advanced) Tampa Yankees before earning a mid-season promotion to the Double-A Trenton Thunder. He dominated both levels, earning the Yankees organization’s “Pitcher of the Year” award. For Tampa, Montgomery converted 14 saves in 15 opportunities. He posted a 0.97 WHIP, 1.34 ERA, and held hitters to a .165 average in 40.1 innings pitched (31 appearances). For Trenton, Montgomery pitched 24 innings in 15 appearances. He posted a  0.75 WHIP, 1.88 ERA and struck out 38. Following the season, Montgomery was invited to pitch in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions. He made nine appearances, allowing three runs while striking out 19 batters over 10.1 innings.

Montgomery sustained an injury that derailed the beginning of his 2013 season. After four rehab starts in the Gulf Coast League, he returned to Scranton pitching 40 innings over 25 games for the RailRiders. He continued to flash swing-and-miss stuff by striking out 49 batters.  He held hitters to a .250 average and posted a 3.38 ERA. His control began to dissipate in 2013, as he walked 25 batters. Following the season, his slider was tabbed as the Yankees organization’s best by Baseball America.

Montgomery split time in Trenton and Scranton in 2014. Across the two levels, he pitched a total of 51.1 innings going 2-1 with a 2.10 ERA. Before being demoted to Trenton, he held hitters in Triple A to a .198 batting average while pitching to a 3.03 ERA in 22 appearances. He made his final 17 appearances in Double A, allowing no earned runs in all but one appearance. He posted a 0.83 ERA with a 0.97 WHIP, and .178 opponent batting average.

In 2015, Montgomery led all Yankee minor league pitchers converting 17 of 20 save opportunities. He spent most of the season in Trenton, appearing in 39 games for the Thunder. Mark limited opposing hitters to a .181 batting average. He struck out a total of 53 batters while walking 17. Following the regular season, Montgomery pitched for Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League. In 14 appearances, he posted a 6.57 ERA while going on to record eight more saves.

This season, Montgomery has again split time between Trenton and Scranton. To date, he has made 17 appearances and posted a combined 0.98 WHIP and 2.66 ERA. He has also converted 7-of-9 save opportunities, and is currently pitching in Scranton’s bullpen. Montgomery has posted great numbers in Triple A to date. He has struck out 13 batters while walking one.

As of late, Mark has been more consistent on the mound. He is getting ahead of batters, throwing more strikes, and missing more bats. This can be attributed to how he features his best pitch—the slider. Over the last few seasons, Montgomery would fall behind hitters, allowing them to lay off his sliders. Now that he has re-established his fastball command, Montgomery gets ahead of hitters and finishes them off with his off-speed offering. The strikeouts have always been there for him, but his ability to locate and get ahead in the count has allowed him to get more ground ball outs.

Montgomery has had an up and down career thus far pitching in the Yankees minor league system. Before sustaining the series of shoulder injuries, he looked to have a very bright future in the Major Leagues. In his first two seasons, Montgomery drew comparisons to former Yankees relief pitcher David Robertson. After obtaining the injuries, he lost about five miles per hour off of his fastball velocity along with decreased control. His fastball now sits in the mid to high 80’s while touching the low 90’s. He features three pitches and throws from a three-quarter arm slot. His fastball and change up are both below Major League average pitches, but the aforementioned slider has been given a plus plus grade by scouts. Should he keep his 2016 performance up, his first big league call up appears imminent. The Major League club is in dire need of effective middle relief pitching so look for Montgomery to get his shot in the near future.