The Situation: With the White Sox playing a doubleheader on Friday, Frankie Montas will be called up to act as the 26th man, and serve as an additional bullpen arm. He will presumably be sent down right after the game.
Background: Montas was part of the package the White Sox acquired at the deadline for Jake Peavy in a three-team trade with the Red Sox and Tigers in 2013. Since then Montas has been lighting up radar guns with his big fastball while trying to find enough command to utilize his two pitches so he can make his way deeper into games on a more consistent basis. Montas has a workhorse frame but he's only pitched 343 innings in his career, including 72 starts.
Scouting Report: Montas is impressive in his ability to look bigger than his height (6-foot-2) and weight (185 pounds) suggest. He sits on the precipice of thick and fat, with thick legs, a large trunk, a soft midsection, and a pair of broad shoulders that complete his intimidating frame.
Velocity is Montas' calling card as the big righty can touch 102 mph on occasion, but when he reaches back for extra velocity, his pitches can flatten out and he’s prone to losing control. He pairs the fastball with a slider that has come a long way since his days as a pure fireballer in the Red Sox system, advancing from a show-me pitch to a true asset. His changeup remains immature.
Montas has the stuff to be a dominating reliever, but the major question he and the White Sox face moving forward is whether he can develop some semblance of command. His mechanics feature a lot of moving parts, hindering both the command he currently has and making it more difficult for him to improve on this in the future. Montas' foot strike on landing is almost pointed straight at third base while his head is almost pointed at first. As you might imagine, this makes it difficult to control where the ball is going. Some still see the promise of a starter lying dormant within Montas, but everything about him suggests a potentially dominant relief future rather than a no. 3/4 starter.
Immediate Impact: We figure to get only a brief look at Montas, but with a big fastball and questionable location, it’s likely to be a show worth watching. —Mauricio Rubio
Fantasy Impact: There isn’t a more compelling pitching prospect left in the minor leagues to monitor going forward than Montas, simply because the gap between his potential ceiling, and his realistic floor is wider than Lake Michigan itself.
Scouts are firmly divided with regards as to whether or not he has a legitimate chance to remain a starter permanently, or if his triple-digit heater has him predestined for the back-end of the bullpen. Given the San Cristobal native’s prodigious raw talent, and the lingering questions about his secondary arsenal, plus command issues, it’s impossible to dismiss either potential outcome at this stage in his development.
The 22-year-old has dominated the Double-A Southern League this season, posting a 2.47 ERA with a 62-to-29 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 73 innings over 15 starts as a member of the Birmingham Barons. Earlier this week at the Futures Game in Cincinnati, Montas dazzled scouts with his fastball velocity, unleashing heaters that registered as high as 102 mph on some radar guns.
The fastball velocity is unfair. Montas' ungodly heater is a force of nature by itself (he clearly isn’t afraid to ride the lightning), but the lack of prodigious minor league strikeout totals (7.64 K.9 this season) and his struggled with his command (3.58 BB/9) are more telling evidence of where the development of his secondary arsenal and control are at than anything else about his statistical profile.
Fantasy owners (who haven’t already) will get their first extended look at Montas during Friday’s doubleheader, but he is a virtual lock to return to Double-A following his Major-League debut. While it will be tempting to draw conclusions from his performance, it’s important to remember how extremely far from a finished product he is at this point.
What direction the White Sox decide to go over the next two weeks at the trade deadline will likely determine his value going forward in re-draft leagues. If Rick Hahn elects to move rotation stalwarts Jeff Samardzija and Jose Quintana, then there is a possibility that Montas is given a showcase opportunity in September. If not, he’s likely to spend the remainder of the year in the minors.
While his value in re-draft leagues is virtually non-existent, Montas is vastly more intriguing in keeper and dynasty formats. If he eventually puts it all together, he’s either entrenched as a core member White Sox rotation or he’s evolved into one of the games premier closers a few years from now. The uncertainty surrounding Montas' future has undoubtedly clouded his forecast and suppressed his fantasy value to this point, but the talent alone is worth rolling the dice on long-term. —George Bissell
- 90th percentile: 3.95 ERA, 1.27 WHIP
- 50th percentile: 5.39 ERA, 1.60 WHIP
- 10th percentile: 6.98 ERA, 1.99 WHIP
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