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Again, why didn’t Elehuris Montero play more in 2022?

The Rockies, not Montero, seem to be most at fault for his subpar debut

Welcome to the 2022 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2022. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.

★ ★ ★

No 25, Elehuris Montero: 0.1 rWAR

After a superb first season in the Colorado Rockies’ minor league system, it was clear Elehuris Montero was very close to becoming a part of the major league roster in 2022. It wasn’t surprising that he started the season with Triple-A Albuquerque, and neither was the power he displayed over the first month with four home runs and an .806 OPS in his first 20 games with the Isotopes.

Montero’s fine start earned him a promotion on April 29, with his first action coming in a 2-for-4 performance on May 1 against the Cincinnati Reds.

Once the roster shrank back to 26 players, Montero would get sent back down and spend the next 28 games with Albuquerque. Over that stretch, he posted a .333/.405/.568 slash line and 141 wRC+ for the Isotopes. Meanwhile, from Montero’s demotion on May 2 to the time he was recalled on June 7, the Rockies went 10-22 with a woeful offense that produced a meager .383 SLG% and 85 wRC+.

His second call-up didn’t last long, though, as he appeared in three games before getting sent down for another ten days before being recalled on June 21. He would stay on the big league roster until July 14 but…barely played while he was there. Of the 22 games in that stretch, Elehuris appeared in just seven of them with only 22 plate appearances to his name.

His numbers as a big leaguer were not great to that point, hitting .176 with no home runs and 15 strikeouts in 34 at-bats. But it’s hard to blame Montero for it as he was receiving little opportunity to adjust to major league competition for any substantial period of time. By the end of July (over halfway through the season) Montero had appeared in just 11 total MLB games despite holding a minor league line that included 15 HR, a .933 OPS and 131 wRC+.

Fortunately, Montero was recalled on August 2 and would spend the remainder of the season with the Rockies. It didn’t take long for him to catch his stride as he started the month with an eight-game hitting streak, including a five-game multi-hit streak that contained his first MLB home run on August 7 on the road against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

That stretch would be the hottest of the season for Elehuris, as he went on to hit only .196/.244/.420 over his final 34 games. The final two months were the bulk of his first major league season, finally giving him a true extended look and letting him learn on the job rather than from the bench. Although it was a rough stretch to end the year, there was still one more highlight to be had when Montero slugged his first two homers at Coors Field against the San Francisco Giants on August 18.

There is nothing left for Montero to prove in the minors, but what he is as a big leaguer is still to be determined. His pop is for real, as evident by his .432 SLG%, but the strikeouts were his Achilles heel with a 32.4% K-rate. In the field, the questions of his ability to handle third base are still valid based on his -2.6 UZR/150 and .943 FLD%, there, but feel largely unanswered because he logged just 182 innings at the hot corner.

Overall, it’s hard to know how to feel about Montero’s first season and what his future holds because of how the organization has handled him thus far. The power is there and his potential to become an impact hitter is still obtainable, but he needs to cut down on the strikeouts. So far he grades out as a fine first baseman and below-average third baseman, but no matter where he is deployed in the field the Rockies will have a starter already in his way with C.J. Cron, Ryan McMahon and possibly Michael Toglia on the roster.

To give Montero a true chance to develop in MLB and genuinely discover what kind of player they have, the Colorado Rockies need to find a way to get him into the lineup more consistently in 2023.