The Next Jordan Montgomery: 3 Names to Watch
Jordan Montgomery was an under-the-radar prospect heading into the 2017 season. He wasn’t considered a top-10 prospect in the Yankees system, but he got an early opportunity and had a strong rookie year, garnering some Rookie of the Year consideration (behind, y’know, Aaron Judge). Now, Montgomery is a solid fantasy starter with a bright future given his age and organization. Who are some unheralded pitching prospects that could emulate Montgomery this year? Since Montgomery is a big, beautiful lefty whom debuted when he was 24, let’s talk about some other big beautiful lefties who might debut at 24 years of age. Just old enough to potentially be discounted in the scouting community and remember the pain of getting on to the internet via dial-up, but young enough to know what on earth “fleek” means. Whatever it is, I’m not on it.
Joey Lucchesi, San Diego Padres
Lucchesi and Montgomery have a lot of parallels. Both were drafted in the 4th round after a four-year college career. Each flew under the radar in loaded farm systems, and both performed exceptionally well, making the hearts of scout-the-statline fantasy owners swoon.
So far in his minor league career, Joey has an ERA under 2.00. He has pitched 60 innings in Double-A and he is making some noise in Spring Training. He almost came away with a role in the rotation. He looks ready for the major leagues, and will likely be one of the first pitchers called upon when an opportunity presents itself in San Diego.
Lucchesi has a fantastic changeup, a fastball that sits in the low-90s (and can touch 95), as well as an above-average curveball. He also has strong control and can pitch it where he wants it. He’s long been known for his deception, with a herky-jerky delivery. Often when you hear a guy has deception, you assume that’s what makes him successful in the minor leagues, and that the success won’t hold up in the majors because the stuff just is not that good. That said, I think the label has belied Luchessi’s stuff, as people just assume he’s succeeding with guile and deception and fail to give his pure stuff the credit it deserves. He’s definitely not a high-end starter, but deception and quality stuff makes him an interesting guy to look at when he’s called up.
Maybe he’s Josh Collmenter, maybe he’s Jordan Montgomery, maybe he’s May-bae-lline.
Ryan Borucki, Toronto Blue Jays
Borucki was a 15th round draft pick out of high school in 2012. He pitched six innings that year, missed all of 2013, pitched 57 innings in 2014, and then only six more in 2015. He, well, he earned the injury-prone label. However, he’s been healthy the past two years, throwing 136 and 150 innings respectively. His results have been stellar as well, particularly last year when in 52 innings above High-A he had an ERA below 2.00. He’s shown strong control, a good strikeout rate, and a solid groundball rate. He’s very close to making his debut for the Blue Jays.
Borucki has a mid-90s fastball, an incredible changeup, and the potential for an average slider. He needs the slider to become more consistent, but the ingredients are there. While he’s about to be 24, he hasn’t had the same development time due to missing 2 1/2 season, I wouldn’t bet against him getting better. After showing health and the ability to handle sizable workloads these past two years, I’m not terribly concerned with his injury history.
Maybe he’s Wade Miley. Maybe he’s Jordan Montgomery. Maybe he’s just not that into you.
Austin Gomber, St. Louis Cardinals
Gomber has the toughest ETA of these three, as he has a lot of talent ahead of him on the depth chart in St. Louis. That depth has kept him off the radar in most leagues. He is worth keeping an eye on, though, as he could develop into a solid back-end fantasy and real-life starter. Like Montgomery in a lot of ways, Gomber has been very durable and solid for many years in the minors. The last three years he’s thrown between 127 and 142 innings each, with an average ERA under 3.00. Last year, he had a 3.34 ERA in 143 innings at Double-A. He got off to a rough start at the beginning of the year but finished strong. Over his final 90 innings he had an ERA of 2.30, and over his final 40 an ERA below 1.00.
Gomber’s delivery has actually been compared to Jordan Montgomery’s. He has a fastball in the low 90s, a strong curveball, a solid slider, and a decent changeup. His repertoire is close to Montgomery, as are his size, results, and delivery. If anyone is going to be a pure Jordan Montgomery clone, it’s this man.
Maybe he’s Derek Holland. Maybe’s he’s Jordan Montgomery. Maybe he’s right, maybe there is something the matter with you.