The New York Mets have decided to call up highly regarded pitching prospect Rafael Montero, per a team announcement. The recent struggles of Mets' right-hander Jenrry Mejia prompted the promotion of Montero, who will be immediately slotted into the team's rotation.
Montero is currently scheduled to make his big league debut Wednesday in what will certainly be a highly publicized matchup against the cross-town Yankees. Assuming Montero starts, he will become the first starting pitcher in Mets' history to debut in a Subway Series.
Yankees' ace Masahiro Tanaka will be starting opposite Montero, adding more fuel to what is shaping up to be a must-watch game.
Montero, 23, was signed by the Mets out of the Dominican Republic as a 20-year-old in 2011 for a mere $80,000, but has bolted up prospect rankings in the last couple years. Entering the season, he was ranked as the 68th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America, and 60th by ESPN's Keith Law. Montero is generally seen as lacking the upside of a typical highly rated prospect (with most seeing him as no more than a number three starter), but his advanced approach and the relatively low risk that accompanies him have pushed him into high esteem. Montero has a 3.67 ERA and 2.28 K/BB in eight starts at Triple-A Las Vegas (a notoriously hitter-friendly environment) this season.
As Charlie Wilmoth of MLB Trade Rumors noted, if Montero sticks in the majors for the rest of the season, he will most likely qualify for Super Two status.
The Mets, who are currently 17-19, have built up quite an impressive stockpile of young arms. Along with Montero, the team's current rotation features Dillon Gee, Jon Niese, and Zach Wheeler, all of whom have yet to turn 29 (Wheeler is 24, while Gee and Niese are 28 and 27, respectively) and have performed quite well so far this season. In addition to that quartet, the team also has Matt Harvey currently on the DL and top prospect Noah Syndergaard lurking in the upper minors.
Montero will replace the 24-year-old Mejia in New York's rotation. Mejia will move to the bullpen, where his electric stuff should play up. As a starter, he struggled in seven starts this season, posting a 5.06 ERA, though his 4.56 FIP and 9.2 K/9 (he admittedly does have an atrocious 4.8 BB/9) indicate that he has probably been better than the raw numbers suggest.
The Mets have also apparently put 25-year-old Triple-A starter Jacob deGrom on standby in case the club needs another arm in their bullpen.
ESPN New York's Adam Rubin and Danny Knobler were the first to report the possibility of Montero's promotion.