15. Daniel Montano (463 points, 29 ballots)
Daniel Montano is the lone representative from Colorado’s Dominican Summer League team on this list, a typical state of affairs given how far away DSL prospects are from the Show. Only the top bonus Latin American signees typically receive much acclaim until they arrive stateside, and Montano fits the bill. The 18-year-old lefty outfielder received a $2 million bonus as a free agent out of Venezuela in 2015 (after he was rated the 12th best international prospect in that class by MLB.com), the largest the Rockies have given out to date.
In his first professional season in 2016, Montano hit .228/.325/.427 with nine homers and 28 extra base hits in 280 plate appearances. That might not sound like much, but in a tough DSL offensive environment against pitchers that on average were over a year older than him, that hitting line equates to a 121 wRC+ and a tie for second place in homers in the DSL. Rockies prospects who have posted those kinds of lines in the DSL, especially at that age, have tended to do very well when they do come stateside.
Montano again hit well in the DSL in 2017, though he did not make a stateside debut as many had anticipated he would. The 6’1” outfielder started off red-hot, posting a .291/.355/.473 line in the DSL season’s first half before falling to .241/.355/.354 in the second half. The context here is that Montano was knocked out of action for two weeks with an injury in July and didn’t display the same punch or hitting stroke once he returned for the end of the season. The intention may well have been to bring Montano to Grand Junction for the stretch run, but his injury took that option off the table.
In the end, Montano produced a .270/.355/.423 line with 20 extra base hits in 217 plate appearances for the DSL Rockies, good for a 124 wRC+. It seems clear to me that he has mastered the DSL and a Grand Junction assignment next year for Montano is all but assured.
MLB.com’s current list places Montano 20th in the system:
Montano is one of the more projectable hitters in the system. He has a relatively advanced approach for a teenager, recognizing pitches, managing the strike zone and using the entire field. He has the potential to hit for a solid average while providing some gap power from the left side of the plate.
Where Montano winds up defensively is still in question. A solid runner with decent instincts, he spent almost all of his pro debut in center field but has played mostly right field in 2017. He could lose a step as he matures physically and presently has fringy arm strength, so he may be destined for left field.
In their February 2017 organizational review, 2080 Baseball had this to say about Montano:
Montano earned a $2 million signing bonus from Colorado off of his offensive upside and physical projection. The Venezuelan native has yet to make it stateside, but in Dominican Summer League action has shown good balance at the plate and quick wrists, with the early signs of developing power bubbling to the surface. There’s a fair amount of swing and miss built into the profile, placing a lot of pressure on the power coming through. To his credit, he has shown a fairly patient approach that could translate into walks and some on-base value to help provide some cushion on the offensive side of things. He’s likely to settle in left field at maturity, though it’s the bat that will ultimately determine whether he carves out a big league future for himself.
Here’s video of Montano in his 2015 showcase courtesy of FanGraphs:
Montano is a player who is so far away from the major leagues that providing a concrete timeline would be foolhardy, but a major league debut is at least four more seasons away for him. Montano’s a very projectable outfield prospect whose carrying tool may be his power once he grows into his frame.
I’ve been the high man on Montano for a while, but the electorate is now coming around to his profile. I ranked Montano 12th on my personal list and I think he’s the first prospect of the PuRPs revealed so far who could deliver league average or better production to the Rockies. Though Montano is far away, the high signing bonus and initial reports led me to put a 45 Future Value on him, a rating that could move significantly either way depending on his development once he gets stateside.