(Photo Credit: Jon Durr/Getty Images)
The Los Angeles Dodgers received a bit of good news in the injury department on Friday, learning that top-five prospect Frankie Montas has been throwing comfortably in extended spring training, and will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Tulsa on Saturday.
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 back in 2013.
Following the surgery, an generalized timetable of two to four months was set as a window in regards to recovery time. The Dodgers eventually shifted Montas to the 60-day disabled list to create roster space on the 40-man, which allows him to return to the roster as early as June 2.
Not only was Montas throwing comfortably, but Dodgers’ beat writer Ken Gurnick had some good news to share about the flamethrower’s measured velocity on Thursday.
Montas made his major league debut for the White Sox last season, tallying 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.
MLB Pipeline currently ranks Montas as the Dodgers’ fourth 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 in the future, 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 state of the Dodgers’ bullpen and whether or not it happens to show improvement over the next few weeks, a fireballer with a fastball topping out at 102 MPH may be exactly what the relief corps needs to get back on track.