Former New York Yankees top prospect waived by Seattle Mariners

This article was originally published on Outside Pitch MLB

Long before Aaron JudgeJorge Mateo and James Kaprielian were the top names in the New York Yankees farm system, there was Jesus Montero.

The catching prospect and native of Venezuela wasn’t only known within the Yankees organization – he was regarded as one of the best minor leaguers in all of baseball. Before the 2010 season, both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America rated Montero as the number four prospect in the game, and moved up one spot on both rankings ahead of the 2011 campaign.

The hype was originally justified.

After tearing through the lower rankings of the minors, Montero had strong back-to-back seasons playing in Triple-A with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. In 2010, Montero – who was just 20 at the time – slashed .289/.353/.517 with 21 home runs, 75 runs batted in and 34 doubles in 123 games. 2011 was more of the same, as Montero continued to flash his power (18 home runs, 67 RBI, .467 slugging percentage) while hitting .288 with 38 extra base hits and an OPS of .814.

Yes, Montero struggled mightily on the defensive side of the game. Not only was he a below average catcher, but many viewed him as either a first baseman or designated hitter at the major league level. However, because his hitting ability was so strong, he received his first taste of big league action at the tail end of 2011 – and continued to live up to the hype.

Over 18 games (three of which saw him behind the plate), Montero impressed, as he slashed .328/.406/.590 with four home runs and 12 RBI. With Jorge Posada on his way out of the Bronx, it appeared as though Montero was the next catcher up; and from the looks of things, Yankees fans were finally getting their next great homegrown talent.

That was, however, until Brian Cashman worked his magic over the offseason.

In January of 2012, the General Manager of the pinstripes struck a deal with the Seattle Mariners, sending Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi to the Pacific Northwest in exchange for pitchers Michael Pineda and Jose Campos.

While Montero was doing his thing both at the minor league and major league level, it was Pineda who was enjoying success in his rookie campaign with the Mariners in 2011.

Although he hit a rookie wall that skewed his stats, Pineda sported a 9-10 record with a 3.74 earned run average in 28 starts. Over that span (171 innings pitched), he gave up 76 runs, 133 hits and had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 173:55. Pineda’s season was strong enough to earn him his first (and, thus far, only) All-Star nod.

The trade was initially met with criticism on the side of Yankees fans. Not only did they ship away a talent who was bred in the organization, but Pineda hasn’t been the healthiest of players throughout his tenure in pinstripes. However, Pineda’s natural ability has trumped the struggles of Montero with the Mariners.

Ever since the trade took place, Montero has split time between the minors and the bigs, and has yet to show off the talent he displayed with the Yankees. From 2012-2015 (208 games), he’s had a slash line of just .247/.285/.383 with 24 home runs, 92 RBI and 155 strikeouts.

At the same time, Pineda – when healthy – has displayed dominance on the mound. Over the 2014 and 2015 seasons, he has combined to have a 17-15 record, a 3.57 ERA and has averaged nine strikeouts and one walk per nine innings.

In Montero, the Mariners have a DH who hasn’t displayed the necessary tools to be an everyday big leaguer. In Pineda, the Yankees have a young starter who has proven to be one of the best on their staff.

Four years later, it is safe to say that Cashman came out on the winning side of this transaction.

Dan Federico is the Managing Editor and Staff Writer for Outside Pitch MLB. You can follow and interact with him on Twitter or contact him via email here

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