By Brady Henderson
Jesus Montero entered Thursday’s game with a .211 average, just five extra-base hits and plenty of doubts about his long-term outlook as a catcher. His work ethic has also been questioned.
But Jim Bowden provided some reason for optimism with Montero in the form of a reminder and an example when he joined “Bob and Groz” on Thursday.
“He’s gonna be fine. He’s 23 years old,” said Bowden, a former MLB general manager who’s now an analyst for ESPN.
Bowden pointed to Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion – whom he once traded for – as an example of a player who reached his potential later than anticipated. Encarnacion had a breakout season in 2012 at the age of 29, hitting .280 with a career-high 42 home runs and 110 RBIs.
“This game is really tough at the big-league level when you’ve got guys throwing 95 with nasty breaking balls and late life and they don’t make mistakes over the middle of the plate like they do in the minor leagues,” Bowden said. “It takes a lot of discipline and it take a lot of time to adjust, and for a lot of players they don’t get it until they’re 25, 26, 27, somewhere in there.”
Bowden thinks that will be the case with Montero, who has hit .253 with 18 home runs in 160 games since he was acquired in a trade with the Yankees before the 2012 season.
“I would never give up on this guy because I think he’s going to be a middle-of-the-order run producer,” Bowden said. “I don’t agree with Brian Cashman when Brian Cashman [compared him to] Miguel Cabrera; I didn’t see that, but I did see a guy that I think’s going to be a 100-RBI-type run producer in the middle of the Mariners’ lineup.
“And if I had to bet on any of those kids – [Justin] Smoak and [Dustin] Ackley and him – there’s no doubt which guy I’m betting on – that’s Montero.
Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby react to Bowden’s comments on Montero in the video below.
You can listen to Thursday’s show here.