Don't let the smile fool you...
The St. Francis Friars called up top prospect Jesus Montero on April 17. He promptly announced himself with a display some could only call Hamilton-ian.
Montero wasn’t making his BARB debut, as he had three hits in 27 at-bats. The young designated hitter (catcher?) began his 2012 season with a double, single and two RBI in three at-bats in an extra-inning loss to Worcester. The next day saw his first BARB homer, as well as another double, and two RBI in a blowout loss to Brooklyn.
Two days later he faced fellow youngster Jhoulys Chacin and reigning champion Frostbite Falls in northern Minnesota—and went off. Montero came up in the fifth with a run on and his Friars trailing 2-0. The 1-0 was SMOKED to left-center. WAAAAY GONE. Game tied. St. Francis scored a run and had runners on base to get him to the plate in the sixth. This time, Chacin’s first pitch was crushed. ANOTHER shot, this time for three runs! Montero finished the game 3-for-4 with the two home runs and five RBI.
Two days later, Montero again went yard twice. Playing at Central division rival Casselton, he drove in three with a two-out longball in the first and followed it with a solo shot in the fourth.
The next day, April 23, Montero cooled down some: only one hit in four at-bats. But that one was his sixth homer in seven games. The two-run jack gave St. Francis a two-run, first-inning lead, but the Friar bullpen (mainly Scott Downs) imploded in the seventh: seven Horned Toad runs erased a 4-4 tie, and Casselton took a one-game lead in the division with an 11-4 win.
Montero’s line through his first seven games of 2012: 12 hits in 26 AB (.462). Three doubles, six home runs (tied for fourth in BARB), six runs scored, 14 RBI (tied for eighth). Typically, an OPS of .800 is considered very good for a hitter. Montero, with a .500 on-base percentage and 1.269 slugging percentage, was nearly one thousand points above that.
For all of the rookie’s hot-hitting, though, St. Francis was only 2-5 through those seven games and stood two games back of Casselton in the Central.
Elsewhere in BARB:
Mike Leake pitched a two-hit shutout as the Central California offense continued Tim Lincecum’s miserable start with a 5-0 beating of Frostbite Falls.
Trevor Cahill shut out Pottsylvania on seven hits. Kevin Youkilis hit a solo HR and Dee Gordon drove in two as host Los Angeles took a 6-0 victory.
A third shutout on the same day was pitched by Roy Halladay. The Good Doctor allowed four Worcester hits (none until the fourth inning) and struck out eight for his third win of the young campaign. New England won, 5-0.
Yadier Molina’s sixth-inning grand slam pushed Riverside past Sin City, 6-2. Cory Luebke struck out nine and allowed just two hits (though he walked six) in five innings for the victory.