There is always something special about being in Yankee Stadium. The whole building oozes history. The championships, the Hall of Famers, who played there and the famous facade. Even the sounds are unique with the “El” trains and extra loud public-address announcements that can be heard as you approach the ballpark. It could be an intimidating place from veterans to rookies.
Today two of the youngest starters in the major leagues, Tampa Bay’s 24-year old lefty Blake Snell and Yankee 24-year old lefty Jordan Montgomery showed no signs of being intimidated by the biggest stage in baseball. Montgomery looked sharp despite giving up a first inning homer to 34-year old Rickey Weeks in the first inning. It set the stage for every scout in the ballpark to see what kind of make-up this kid has. He proceeded to mow down the Rays over the next four innings. In the third inning, with runners on first and second and one out, he struck out the dangerous Evan Longoria swinging and Weeks swinging, to get out of a jam where most rookies would of imploded.
Snell was cruising, as he allowed one hit through his first 4.2 innings. His bullpen and sloppy fielding would be his undoing. Unlike Montgomery, he has a year under his belt. But Montgomery showed the poise and amazing concentration of a seasoned veteran, as he kept the Rays batters guessing wrong all day. He mixed a 92 to 93 mph fastball with late sinking action, a late breaking slider and sneaky circle change that he was not afraid to throw to both sides of the plate. His curveball needs some work as it tends to hang, although today he kept it down most of the time.
The one think that stood out to the major league scouts today, was how many swings and misses he induced. That is an indication of a tough guy to hit. In the minors he posted 292 innings with 286 strikeouts and only 87 walks. That is eye opening to baseball people. Sure, it was the minors, but he has a high ceiling, with most scouts saying that this 6-6, 225 lb. lefty, should be “an occasional All-Star and solid front end of rotation starter, with an outstanding repertoire and superb command and control”.
In 2013, I saw a rookie pitcher come into Yankee stadium in the early part of the season and allow six runs and two homers in his first two innings to the then first place Yankees. He then proceeded to show his poise like Montgomery did today, as he shut the Yankees down for the next four innings. That rookie was Cory Kluber. I get the same feeling with this rookie, Jordan Montgomery.