Colt Emerson, Michael Arroyo, Cole Young, and Harry Ford have much in common. They are all high-end hitting prospects in the Mariners' farm system at the High-A level and below. Lazaro Montes, our 11th-ranked prospect, one of the most potent bats in the system, is right there with them.
The Cuban-born slugger joined the Mariners during the 2021-22 international signing period, with most scouts latching onto his power potential (60-grade). His Dominican Summer League performance offered fans a tantalizing but small sample size (.284/.422/1.007) with 28 extra-base hits in 55 games. However, the strikeouts were an issue (33.2%) during that season.
2023 was a genuine step forward for Montes, as he took the Arizona Complex League by storm (.282/.452/1.007) and used that performance to climb the organizational ladder at midseason. The 19-year-old provided a significant power presence for the Modesto Nuts (35 extra-base hits) and continued to squash the strikeouts (54 BB - 76 SO). This performance across two levels shows Montes' commitment to the team's "dominate the zone" mantra and his maturity in a league filled with peers often three to four years older.
Scouts have always compared the 6'7" 226-pound outfielder to another fellow Cuban, Yordan Alvarez. However, there might be more upside in there as Montes has an above-average arm in right field (50-grade), which he showed off routinely in Modesto this season. If he can continue to hone his routes and flash the arm, we could see a significant jump in the Major League Baseball Pipeline ratings. Top 100, anyone?
Look for the Mariners to continue aggressively promoting Montes with a starting spot in Everett (High-A) in the card for 2024. If he continues to cut down on the strikeouts, walk a bit, and hit the ball with authority, we could see Baby Yordan in Arkansas at the season's end.