(Photo Credit: Jason Wise/MLB.com)
Although he’s still not yet close to any type of official rehab assignment, the Dodgers remain confident that hard-throwing righty Frankie Montas will recover fully from surgery, and hope that he’ll make an impact at the big league level at some point during the 2016 season.
Montas was acquired in three-team deal with the Reds and White Sox in December that also netted the Dodgers second baseman Micah Johnson and outfielder Trayce Thompson. Third baseman Todd Frazier landed in Chicago, while Los Angeles sent infielder Jose Peraza, infielder Brandon Dixon and outfielder Scott Schebler to Cincinnati.
A short time after the trade, the 23-year-old flamethrower suffered a complicated stress reaction that required rib resection surgery to remove his first right rib. The procedure was performed by Dr. Greg Pearl in February, the same physician who removed a rib from former Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett early in 2013.
Following the surgery, an indistinct timetable of two to four months was set as a window in regards to recovery time. The Dodgers recently shifted Montas to the 60-day disabled list to create roster space, which suggests a possible return to competition sometime in early June. Regardless, the assumed time frame won’t prevent him from playing at the minor league level if he happens to jump ahead of schedule.
Here’s some recent footage of Montas throwing off flat ground a little over a week ago:
Montas made his major league debut for the White Sox last season, recording 20 strikeouts and nine walks with a 4.80 ERA in 15 innings of work. He also put up a 2.97 ERA in 23 starts for Birmingham last year, including 108 strikeouts and 48 walks in 112 innings. The highlight of his 2015 campaign was throwing a no-hitter against Double-A Tennessee in June.
At 16 years of age, he originally signed for a $75,000 signing bonus as an amateur free agent with the Red Sox in 2009. Leaving his native Dominican Republic, he began his professional career with the Gulf Coast Red Sox and worked his way to High-A Greenville by the beginning of the 2013 season.
Before the 2013 trade deadline, the Red Sox dealt Montas to the White Sox in a three-team trade with the Tigers. The transaction primarily involved prospects, but most notably netted Boston righty starter Jake Peavy while Detroit landed shortstop Jose Iglesias.
In 2014, Montas threw 62 innings for High-A Winston-Salem, compiling a 4-0 record with 56 strikeouts, a 1.60 ERA and a .952 WHIP before being promoted to Birmingham.
MLB Pipeline ranks Montas as the Dodgers’ fifth best prospect, and began discussing his velocity almost immediately in the first few sentences of their scouting report.
“One of the hardest-throwing starters in the game, Montas maintains mid-90s heat into the late innings and can reach back for 102 MPH. His fastball has some sinking and cutting action but also can straighten out when he overthrows it. His mid-80s slider also can overpower hitters, though it too flattens out at times,” the commentary revealed.
“While Montas has improved his delivery and control since signing, he still remains more thrower than pitcher and scouts are split on whether he’d be better off as a starter or reliever. He lacks consistency with a third pitch, as his changeup will exhibit good fade some nights and be nothing more than a batting-practice fastball on others.”
It’s still not known whether he will begin his career with the Dodgers as a starter or reliever; however, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman indicated back in December that he’s intrigued more by Montas’ potential as a starter.
“Frankie Montas has a tremendous right arm. Our scouts feel his fastball/slider combo is one of the best in the minor leagues,” Friedman stated. “There’s no question in my mind he could step into a major league bullpen right now. But we’re more of the mind to develop him as a starting pitcher.”
When asked how he felt upon being dealt to the Dodgers and in what capacity he saw himself with the club moving forward, Montas mentioned that he’s thrilled to compete in whichever role best fits the team’s needs.
“I always say things happen for a reason,” Montas said. “I was really excited being here with a new team to show what I can do and do whatever I can to help the team in the big leagues. This happened so just try to get ready, come back and do what I can to help the team.”
In the meantime, considering the current inconsistencies of the Dodgers’ bullpen and whether or not it happens to evolve in a positive fashion over the next six weeks, a fireballer with a fastball topping out at 102 MPH may be exactly what the club needs to reach the next level.