TRENTON, NJ – Left-hander Jordan Montgomery is rising on the Yankees prospect list. To begin with, the 23-year-old Sumter, S.C., native has officially become a power pitcher.
Just how did this 6-foot-4, 225-pound hurler change from a pitcher whose fastball topped out at 92, showed an excellent change and a solid curve, begin registering speeds of 96 consistently?
“Mechanics,” said Montgomery at the Trenton Thunder’s Media Day Tuesday. “That’s the whole story. We found a flaw. We changed a thing or two last year and I feel real good about coming to Trenton and pitching in the Eastern League.
“Right now, I feel comfortable on the mound. I’m throwing looser and with more velocity and feel great.”
Montgomery, who will open the season in the Thunder’s rotation, is coming off a 10-8, 2.95 season with 25 appearances (24 starts) split between Class-A stops Charleston and Tampa in 2015. He registered a strikeout/walk ratio of 132-36 and pitched a solid 134.1 innings.
Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell is glad to have the 2014 fourth-round draft pick by the Yankees in his potentially excellent rotation.
“He showed a lot with his arm in Spring Training,” said Mitchell. “It’s good having a lefty like that at this level.”
What also was impressive in 2015 is Montgomery allowed just 118 hits in his 134.1 innings. How did he know his mechanics were a bit awry.
“I was walking more guys than I usually do.” he said. “I knew something was a bit off in Tampa last year. So we got together, took a look and made some changes. I was throwing better with more velocity my last starts at Tampa.”
Switches in mechanics can do wonders, and are underrated as far as a tool to success. In reality, such switches can change plenty. For example, look at what Jake Arrieta did in his years in Baltimore as compared to what he accomplished with the Chicago Cubs in 2015.
And notice what Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has done with throwers such as Francisco Liriano, J.A Happ, A.J. Burnett and Edison Volquez.
The key, according to Searage and other successful pitching coaches in adjusting mechanics is to make certain a pitcher repeats his release and is consistent with that release facing the plate.
“We did some of that,” said Montgomery. “It has helped me.”
Montgomery is not worried about pitching in the chill that has enveloped Central New Jersey in early April, even though he is from South Carolina.
“I can deal with it,” he said. “Even when I pitched at the University of South Carolina, it got cold in spots early in the season. I see no problem.”
The Yankees are also pleased Montgomery threw a durable number of innings last season. The increase in velocity is a bonus, and likely unexpected when he was signed in 2014. His advancement is impressive.
“I think he’ll continue to progress,” said Mitchell of Montgomery.
Baseball is a game of adjustments. Hitters are always adjusting. Pitchers are always adjusting. Mechanics need to be functioning in near-perfect fashion to assure success in the upper levels of the minors and the major leagues.
Montgomery buys in on all that.