May 2012 Prospect Profile: Mark Montgomery

05/14/2012 1:36 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Could Mark Montgomery one day replace Mariano Rivera as the Yankees' closer?
After Mariano Rivera tore his ACL in Kansas City, talk ramped up about who would be the “heir apparent” to the greatest closer of all-time.

No one will likely ever be Mo, and less than one full year into his pro career, Mark Montgomery is still a ways away from even entering the conversation as a successor. But, through the first six weeks or so of the 2012 season, he has been a true stopper at the back end of the Tampa Yankees’ bullpen, and his work has drawn him comparisons to another dominant Yankees reliever: David Robertson.

Selected by the Yankees in the 11th round of the 2011 MLB draft, the 21-year-old Montgomery made his pro debut last summer for the Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League – but he didn’t stay for very long.

After four very strong relief outings that saw him allow only one run but strike out 10 in just four innings of work, Montgomery was promoted to Single-A Charleston. In 22 games there, he notched 14 saves while registering a 1.85 ERA, holding South Atlantic League batters to a .187 average, and fanning 41 in just 24 1/3 innings pitched.

This season at Advanced-A Tampa has seen more of the same, as through May 13, Montgomery was 2-1 with a 1.65 ERA, five saves, and 24 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings.

And while it may be a small sample it is of note that the comparison to Robertson is certainly apt; in his first year-plus through that same date, Montgomery’s K/9 average was a whopping 15.1 – a figure that’s actually better than the 13.8 registered by noted “Houdini” Robertson in the same time frame.

Again, it’s likely way too early to say that Montgomery will someday fill the shoes of Rivera or Robertson – but it’s not too early to say that it may only be a matter of time before he’s on his way to Double-A Trenton, where fans throughout the Tri-State Area can get a much closer look at the young fireballer.

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