(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)
At the end of last season, Mark Montgomery was the hands down top relief prospect in the Yankee system, a borderline top 10 organizational prospect overall, and on his way to breaking into the Major League bullpen sometime around now if not earlier. After leaving his last appearance on Saturday with more shoulder problems, he's likely done for the year and has become a much bigger question mark for next season rather than a possible bullpen answer.
Donnie Collins confirmed earlier this week that Montgomery was put back on the DL for the 3rd time this year, each of them shoulder-related. This latest issue puts a fitting end to a disappointing season and continues the storyline I've talked up since last fall about Montgomery being overworked in 2012. The story for a while has been that Montgomery didn't come to spring camp in the best shape and the team has used that as an explanation for his diminished velocity and shoulder problems. After throwing almost 75 innings last year between 2 MiL levels and the AZFL, it's understandable that he might have needed some time to rest his shoulder in the offseason. A jump to almost 75 IP from less than 30 the previous year is a lot for a young reliever, so maybe the Yankees should be looking in the mirror before they blame Montgomery solely for a lack of conditioning and arm strength.
Jason Cohen of Pinstriped Bible examined Montgomery's 2013 workload
yesterday Wednesday and found that he's also been throwing a lot more pitches this year than he did last year. Cohen pointed to Montgomery's May 15th outing, a long 3.1-inning appearances, as the starting point for his performance downfall this year, and when paired with the increase in pitches this season, high innings count last season, and lingering shoulder problems, it all weaves together to strengthen the case that Montgomery has been overworked.
We don't know what the nature of his shoulder injury is and we haven't either of the other times he's hit the DL this season. The team has been very vague and hush-hush on Montgomery this year, which is never a good sign when it comes to injuries. Hopefully this isn't the start of a career-long list of arm problems for Montgomery and he's able to rest up and re-strengthen for 2014. It'd be another black eye for the Yankees in the pitching development department if it turns out they burned up a kid's arm before he even made the show.
(Photo courtesy of the AP)