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Buy Low, Buy Now: Rafael Montero

Kevin Nielsen discusses Met's pitching prospect Rafael Montero's rising stock and future fantasy impact.

Rafael Montero
Rafael Montero

The time is right now to invest in NYM SP prospect Rafael Montero. If you have already invested him then I think you are quite savvy (and/or lucky). I don't think Montero has gotten nearly as much attention as he deserves. He has a rock-solid floor combined with a pretty decent ceiling.

If you are looking for a fantasy comparison, I'll give you three. One is a player who was drafted last season, Twins SP prospect Jose Berrios. I'm very high on him as well but the fact that he has gotten more attention than the pitcher he could be in a year or two doesn't make much sense to me. Berrios probably has a higher ceiling than Montero but he also hasn't proven nearly as much which is to be expected because he's 3 ½ years younger. This is no knock on Berrios at all but I think that he and Montero should be valued somewhat comparably. Rafael Montero signed with the Mets out of the D.R. when he was already 20 years old. This is kind of late for an international prospect to sign so it gives some explanation to the fact that he'll pitch this season at age 22 and will likely begin the year at AA, not that 22 is an unreasonable age to be starting the year at AA..

I'll also compare Rafael Montero to a couple of MLB starters in terms of possible future statistical performance, Doug Fister and Hiroki Kuroda. Don't get me wrong, I'm not comparing him to these two as far as arsenal and style, but rather for fantasy value and the type of fantasy statistics to expect. That's pretty good company to be in. He isn't going to be the next Wainwright or Felix, he's definitely not going to be the next Strasburg, but if things turn out as they should he will have fantasy value and a role on your team as long as you don't play in an extremely shallow league.

I play in a 30-team dynasty with 55-man rosters and I recently dealt a post-2013 1st round pick for Montero. I have one of the strongest teams in the league coming off of two championships so I fully expect that pick to be in the 1.25-1.30 range. I think I got a good price on him. I also just scooped him up in the Fake Teams dynasty league. If Montero picks up where he left off last season and dominates AA hitters while exhibiting exceptional control I expect his stock to rise very quickly. It's not out of the question that he joins the Mets rotation at some point this season.

On to the stats and hype: Montero pitched at A and High-A in 2012, posting a 2.36 ERA in 122 IP with 110 K to only 19 BB. He even improved his K rate as the year went on, striking out over a batter per inning at High-A where he had a K:BB ratio of better than 5:1. Jon Heyman reported that Rafael Montero is "thrilling Mets people" early in spring training. The NY Daily News reported that Collins commented "This guy is coming with rave reviews," and that "He may not have the fastball (Zack) Wheeler's got, but I had minor-league people tell me don't be surprised if he's up (in the big leagues) before Sept. 1." Montero's most recent spring start vs. the Nationals was 4 2/3 scoreless innings complimented by 3 K to 1 BB. I was planning to write this piece before that start but it certainly reinforces my belief in Montero.

Thinking of other somewhat under-the-radar SP prospects? Let's hear about them in the comments.