Sitting near the bottom of the St. Louis Cardinals prospect list is a third baseman named Elehuris Montero. The way he is playing right now, he may elevate through the rankings soon.
As of right now, Elehuris Montero is lacing up his cleats for the Peoria Chiefs, and at just 19 years old, he is tearing it up. In 2014, the St. Louis Cardinals secured his talents for $300,000 dollars during the international signing period, the most spent on a bat that year. Keep in mind that Montero was just 15 at the time.
The upside with his bat is starting to show through. Montero’s performance even caught the attention of Emily Waldon and Jared Wyllys of The Athletic as a standout performer on the corner infield.
During his first three seasons, dating back to 2015, he was playing in rookie leagues and hitting in the mid .200s. Though each year he continued to improve. In 2016 he was hitting .277 with five long balls.
This year, his game took another massive step. Montero is 71 games into his season, the most he has played professionally, and he is answering that call. His batting average is over .300, and his home run total of nine ties his other three season combined. All of his numbers are shining brighter than they have before, including his wRC+ of 144, which is nearly ten points higher than his highest career mark.
There is no doubt that Montero is a bat first prospect. MLB Pipeline grades his arm strength at 60, but that is followed by his hit tool at 50 and power at 45. He has a compact swing that will lead to more power as he develops his approach. The fact that he is swinging from a 6’3″ 195 pound frame does not hurt matters either.
On the defensive side of the ball, he has the arm to play third. As his glove catches up he will become a serviceable defender. With little speed to speak of, his future as a corner infielder is all but imminent.
It is clear that Montero’s projections will be entirely dependent on the development of his hitting ability. There is a very little chance that he becomes a Gold Glove caliber player at the hot corner, but his bat looks promising to this point in his career.
His approach is fairly advanced for such a young prospect. Despite his low walk rate this season of 6.9 percent, Montero has proven the ability to draw walks in the past. He is putting bat to ball this year and good things are happening. As he continues to grow and develop, his power numbers will rise and his knack for hitting will bode very well.
The St. Louis Cardinals signed Montero because of his bat. There is no need to think about it any harder than that. If he can continue to show his ability at the plate, then he will continue to climb the ranks toward his potential.