Last week, when the major league baseball rosters expanded to 40 for September, the Yankees called up several minor leaguers to fill out their roster. The slew of call-ups brought the Yankees the likes of Brandon Laird, Lance Pendleton, and the return of Scott Proctor. The most anticipated call-up, however, was heralded prospect Jesús Montero. On Monday, Montero showed the fans exactly what they’ve been waiting for. Jesús… is risen.
We all know that I’m a Yankees fan. I try to provide my readers with mostly unbiased content, but sometimes I have to let the Homer in me out for a little bit. My buddies and I have been watching Montero’s progress pretty much since the Yankees signed him as a sixteen year old out of Guaraca, Venezuela in 2006. We have watched Montero develop a lot the last five years. He started like so many hyped international prospects do, but then actually proved that he might just be worth all that talk. He hit .308 with 76 home runs during his rise through the minor leagues. He played in two All-Star weekend Futures Games and has been ranked in the top five of Baseball America’s prospect rankings for 2 years now. We as Yankees fans have been hungry for Jesús for a long time, and he was finally delivered to us last Thursday.
Could it have been a more dramatic debut? Montero was called up for the series finale against the hated Boston Red Sox, in Fenway, and against John Lester! Not only that, but he arrived with the team that day and was immediately inserted into the starting lineup. Of course, Montero ended up coming up in the first inning with the bases loaded. Talk about a dramatic debut. Unfortunately, he was unable to come through in his first at bat, or even that whole first game (he did get hit by a pitch and score the winning run though). It wasn’t until the Yankees got back home against the Blue Jays that Montero finally broke through, with a single through the left side in his 6th big league at-bat. The next day, he picked up two more singles in another Yankees win, setting the stage for his dramatic Monday performance.
Montero again started at DH for the Yankees (he has been named the starting DH against right-handed pitchers for the rest of the month). In the bottom of the 5th, Jesús stepped to the plate in an 8-8 game and crushed a pitch for an opposite field home run. This bomb gave the Yankees a 9-8 lead. It was the first home run of Montero’s big league career, and it sent a buzz across Yankee land. I myself was about to take a shower (I’d been painting at my girlfriend’s house all day) when I got a text from my buddy saying “Tero!! Bomb”. I almost ran out of the bathroom naked to go find the TV (cooler heads prevailed and I put my shorts on), and put on YES just in time to catch the last replay. Our “son,” as my friend and I refer to Montero as, had done it! Then, my brother called me and we wondered aloud how terrible John Sterling’s (NYY radio guy) home run call must have been (sterling is infamous for his corny and lame home run calls, which he personalizes for each player). In the end, it was even lamer than we thought “Jesús is loose! (we figured Mon-terror, or Hey sus!)” It didn’t matter really. We were happy for our team, proud of Montero, proud to be Yankees fans, and excited for the future. Then he came up in the 7th and hit another home run, almost to the same spot, and we erupted. My phone lit up with texts from my friend and my brother. When I got home my dad asked me if i had seen the home runs, and we discussed them at great length.
Its hard for non-sports fans to understand how it feels when a top prospect finally gets called up to the big leagues and immediately succeeds. This is how the Nationals felt last year when Strasburg came up and struck out 14 batters in his major league debut. This is how Blue Jays fans felt earlier this month when Brett Lawrie came up and started clubbing his home runs. It is an amazing feeling. It gives you reassurance for the future that your team will be alright once the stars of today are ready to retire. Sure Yankees fans won’t have Posada, Jeter or Rivera for much longer, but we feel safe putting the team in Montero’s hands for the future. Afterall, he’s gonna reach 500 home runs, 3,000 hits and win ten MVPs, get inducted into the HOF six times…. right? We really don’t know what he’ll do for the rest of his career. He could get hurt tomorrow and never play again. We just know that he has the talent to be a special player. For one magical, incredible day, the twenty-one-year-old Montero showed it to the Orioles, and it was fucking awesome.
MLB.com won’t let me embed the video (I even tried hacking it), so here’s a link to Montero’s blasts:
image courtesy of: Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
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