On the night of the Supreme Court homage to Felix Hernandez, the Mariners found themselves a little overbooked. In addition to a Safeco Field-sized King’s Court, they were tasked with hosting Salute to Japanese Baseball Night and their third annual Trading Card Night.
Unless you were one of the 15,000 fans with an accommodating work schedule and a lucky parking spot, you may have missed out on the giveaway. The team tastefully omitted any relevant statistics, sparing fans the ugly sight of Chone Figgins‘ batting line (.189/.264/.283) and Kevin Millwood‘s W-L record (4-11). Instead, the cards limited each player to two notable achievements, hobbies, or peculiarities, not unlike those featured on the Jumbotron during games.
Here were the facts selected for Jesus Montero:
- Jesus entered this season rated as the Mariners No. 1 prospect by Baseball America.
- Jesus’ brother, Jesus Rafael Montero, is a catcher in the St. Louis organization.
Yes, you read that correctly. Famed prospect and current catcher Jesus Montero has a brother, the less fabled catcher also named Jesus Montero.
Sure, it’s not the most significant thing we could say about Montero. You can shelf this tidbit with the knowledge that Jesus’ favorite soup is beef and pollo. Still—even considering that the name ‘Jesus’ is the Venezuelan equivalent of Tom, Dick, or Harry—the resemblance between the brothers piqued my curiosity.
First, “our” Jesus. As you may have gleaned from the Mariners’ in-game player profiling, his full name is Jesus Alejandro Montero. At 22 years old, this marks his first full season in MLB and the sixth year of his professional baseball career. Jesus (or Alejandro, for the purposes of this article) began his minor league service at the ripe age of 17, when he signed with the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 2006.
From 2010 – 2012, Baseball America ranked him among their top ten prospects, finishing at No. 6 prior to the 2012 season. Although Montero spent his entire minor league career behind the dish, scouts clung tighter to his batting average (above .280 in each of his five seasons) and power numbers (peak SLG: .583 for the high-A Tampa Yankees).
In the shadow of his brother’s fast track to The Show is Jesus Rafael Montero. A year and a half younger, Rafael measures 5’10” to Alejandro’s 6’3″, though from their headshots the brothers may as well be twins. A year after Alejandro signed with New York, Rafael was selected as a non-drafted free agent by the St. Louis Cardinals. Four seasons later, he has yet to break into the majors, though his path to pro ball also began at age 17.
While both brothers have made names for themselves behind the plate, Rafael has also logged time as a first baseman (17 appearances), designated hitter (2 appearances), right fielder (one appearance), and reliever (one appearance). According to Scout.com, he was named a New York-Penn League All-Star this month, but rendered ineligible to play with a last-minute trip to the DL. A current Batavia Muckdog, Montero’s value may lie more with his glove than his bat: he’s touting a batting line of .287/.360/.434 through 162 PA, a hair above last season’s .276/.339/.347.
Even with the impending departure of Miguel Olivo, this is anything but a plea for the Mariners to lay claim to another Jesus Montero. By age 21, Alejandro made his MLB debut in Fenway Park and notched 20 H, 8 XBH, and 12 RBI in 18 games with New York. By age 21, Rafael is sidelined in the Cardinals’ farm system, with four rungs of minor league levels left to climb.
Perhaps, given a few years’ time, the Monteros will become the Molinas of MLB. Or, just as likely, Jesus Rafael Montero will be known not for his own accomplishments, but as the counterpart to Seattle’s prized backstop.