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Oakland Athletics

Pleskoff Scouting Report: Frankie Montas

Ray Carlin/Icon Sportswire
  • TEAM: Oakland Athletics
  • AGE: 23
  • POSITION: Pitcher
  • THROWS: Right
  • HEIGHT: 6-foot-2
  • WEIGHT: 255 lbs.
  • ACQUIRED: The Boston Red Sox signed Montas as an international free agent in 2009.

In July 2013, Montas was traded by the Red Sox along with infielder Cleuluis Rondon, and pitcher J.B. Wendelken to the White Sox. The Detroit Tigers sent Avisail Garcia to the White Sox. The Tigers sent pitcher Brayan Villarreal to the Boston Red Sox. The White Sox sent pitcher Jake Peavy to the Red Sox. The Red Sox sent infielder Jose Iglesias to the Tigers.

In December 2015, Montas was again part of a three-team trade. He was traded along with infielder Micah Johnson and Trayce Thompson from the White Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers sent infielder/outfielder Brandon Dixon, infielder Jose Peraza and outfielder Scott Schebler to the Cincinnati Reds and the Reds sent third baseman Todd Frazier to the White Sox.

In August 2016 Montas was on the move again. The Dodgers traded him along with pitchers Grant Holmes and Jharel Cotton to the Oakland Athletics for pitcher Rich Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick.

Even with all of that movement in his career, Montas is still only 23 years old.

*****

STRENGTHS

Having been moved a number of times in trades, one might wonder what’s wrong with Montas? Why has he been traded so much? It’s a fair question. In my evaluation of him, the answer is simple. He has had a history of being a high-velocity, but wild, pitcher. He has had trouble throwing strikes.

In my Arizona Fall League observations of Montas, he has changed a bit. His command was better than I had seen in the past. He is a high-velocity pitcher with upside remaining.

There are those who observe that Montas has always been heavy. They are concerned he will pitch while being out of shape and that he will always endure weight-related injuries.

He was used exclusively in relief this past fall. He would come in late in games and throw his fastball at 99 to 100 miles per hour. He mixed in a very effective slider at 89 miles per hour and a knee-buckling changeup at 91 as well. He used the three pitches, but his fastball was his bread and butter.

When he concentrates from hitter to hitter, Montas can throw strikes. When he loses his concentration, the walks begin to escalate and he gets in trouble.

He no longer has rookie status. He has pitched at the major league level and has exceeded rookie limits.

WEAKNESSES

Montas has a bad habit of shortening his delivery and not extending his arm at the finish. When he drops his arm and hand it costs him command and control.

To be an effective major league pitcher, he will have to improve his mechanics and finish his pitches with good extension and not drop his shoulder or hand.

I do believe, however, that the Athletics have slotted him in the correct role. In short spurts late in games, Montas can be effective. He can dispatch hitters with just his fastball if he so chooses. However, using his slider and changeup do make him much less predictable and more complete on the mound.

There has been some injury history with Montas that may help understand why he has moved around from team to team. He has had knee injuries and has had rib surgery. How he continues to rebound from those injuries will go a long way to determining how well he will do on the mound in the future. He has to stay in good shape to pitch effectively.

While he does throw hard, he doesn’t get much movement on his fastball. Late life may be more important than pure velocity. At times, Montas lacks life on his pitches.

My greatest concern for him is his physicality. He has to watch his weight and conditioning. His weight has not served him well, adding stress to his body and possibly resulting in him missing time due to injuries.

23 SEPTEMBER 2015: Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Frankie Montas (60) delivers a pitch during a regular season game between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers played at Comerica Park in Detroit, MI. The Detroit Tigers defeated the Chicago White Sox 7-4.

23 SEPTEMBER 2015: Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Frankie Montas (60) delivers a pitch during a regular season game between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. (Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)

NARRATIVE

While Montas has intimidating velocity on his fastball, he loses some of that velocity the more he pitches in a game. He is best suited for a limited role as a late-inning reliever. If he concentrates on throwing just his fastball and one of his other pitches from among his slider and changeup, he can be effective. He does, however, try to throw harder than 100 miles per hour at times and he loses command.

Montas is best when he takes his time, concentrates and stays within his capabilities. Pacing himself and staying in rhythm helps him repeat his delivery, which has been a problem in the past. Extending his arm and finishing his pitches will also help improve his overall performance. Quite simply put, he has to find consistency in his delivery from pitch to pitch and batter to batter.

In short, I believe most of Montas’ command and control problems are mental as opposed to physical. He wants to succeed and tries to rush the ball to the plate with über-velocity. It doesn’t always work for him.

I got to see several of Montas’ six 2016 Arizona Fall League appearances. He finished the season with an ERA of 0.53 in 17 innings of relief work. He yielded only seven hits and two runs, with only one being earned. Montas struck out nine, but he walked eight. That walk rate, while a bit high, was still somewhat better than I had observed in the past. His 0.88 WHIP was outstanding, but could have been better without him issuing so many free passes. Opponents hit only .132 off him.

THE FUTUE FOR MONTAS

Montas can become a good late-inning option as long as he concentrates and stays within his own limitations. He can be effective with good pace and concentration. I have seen times when he has been very tough to hit. I have seen times when he can’t throw a strike.

Destined for a role as a reliever until he proves he can throw all three pitches for strikes, can repeat his delivery and can get ahead of hitters, he can have a role on a big league club. Perhaps at some point his “stuff” will play as a starter.

Still young but not in great physical condition, Montas will have to win a role with improved command and a “take charge” and a confident attitude on the mound.

CONCLUSIONS

Already having been traded several times, Montas has not lived up to the promise of his big, high-velocity arm. He can win a bullpen job with Oakland, but keeping it will depend upon his ability to throw strikes.

Surprisingly, in his early career, strikeouts were tough to come by for Montas. That is changing as he is gaining experience and learning how to pitch and not throw. I do see improvement in his strikeout totals. He has gained close to five strikeouts per nine innings, going from 8.9 per nine in 2014 to 13.5 per nine innings in 2016. But he will have to lower the number of walks he yields to be more effective.

I project a role in the bullpen to be the best spot to use the man that can hit 100 miles per hour with little effort. To maximize his potential, however, Montas will have to stay in shape and repeat his delivery with improving mechanics.

SCOUTING PHRASE FOR MONTAS: A big-arm pitcher with improving command and control.

SCOUTING GRADE FOR MONTAS: 50 – A member of a big league bullpen

Follow me on twitter @BerniePleskoff

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