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Elehuris Montero is Making His Case in Spring Training

For many, Spring Training is simply as the name states, time to practice and prepare for the regular season’s rigors. For others, however, it’s a cutthroat Thunderdome where you fight for survival and prove you can earn you keep with the big league team. It’s a spot that first base slugger Elehuris Montero finds himself in with the Colorado Rockies this spring.

Acquired from St. Louis in the fated Nolan Arenado trade, Montero has struggled to establish himself with the big league team. After briefly debuting in 2022, Montero has been unable to get regular playing time and when he has played, has struggled immensely with strikeouts. He’s shown flashes of brilliance in 138 games but hasn’t made much headway in becoming a keystone figure for the Rockies lineup moving forward.

That’s why Spring Training is crucial for him.

Montero, 25, is out of minor league options. Therefore, his spot on the Opening Day roster appears secure unless the Rockies want to risk sending him through waivers to Triple-A where anyone could claim him, or trade him somewhere else. The main problem for Montero coming into the 2024 season is the fact that he is a man without a permanent position. Originally brought up as a third baseman, Montero’s abilities never developed quite as anyone hoped at the hot corner. He was briefly the Opening Day third baseman for the Rockies in 2023, but manager Bud Black did not like what he saw with the glove and he was optioned to Triple-A and converted to a first baseman full-time.

He has worked hard with his glove to become capable at first and by all accounts, he has done that. The only problem is that Kris Bryant is now projected as the starting first baseman leaving Montero’s options for playing time fairly limited. The Rockies are toying with the idea of playing Bryant in the outfield more, but that is also contingent on how several players are doing at the plate, Montero included. He can slide in as the DH from time to time, but that will be based on Charlie Blackmon’s schedule as the 14-year veteran.

The fact of the matter is that Montero is going to have to force his way into the lineup and so far he is making a strong case in Spring Training.

In nine games entering Monday, Montero has slashed .353/.429/.824, going 6-for-17 with two home runs and two doubles as well as seven RBI. Additionally, a key number for him is two walks against two strikeouts, a significant improvement over his career. He has spent time trying to adjust his stance and hitting mechanics as a means to improve his discipline and vision at the time, something that needs to pay off.

In his brief big league career, Montero has struck out 34.8% of the time compared to just a 4.7% walk rate. An inability to make contact has negated the incredible power that he has in his bat. He managed to hit 11 home runs a year ago in 85 games but at the cost of 111 strikeouts in 307 plate appearances. There is precedent for Montero’s plate discipline being good as he has done quite well in that department in the minors. His power has erupted and he has been a key contributor to his minor league teams, but it hasn’t translated to the majors.

2024 is the year for Montero to prove he deserves regular playing time. His performance in Spring Training is encouraging. Quality at-bats, solid contact, and good defensive plays are all feathers in his cap. As it stands he hasn’t exactly overtaken anyone in the depth chart, but is at the very least building some trade value. It’s still unclear how exactly he fits into the Rockies lineup plans for the 2024 season. His lack of versatility compared to others on the roster gives him a slight disadvantage and inability to fit the puzzle. There would have been an easy solution for him in the past, but the Rockies are currently dealing with a logjam in multiple positions and the presence of Bryant makes things extremely difficult for Montero.

The only thing that Montero can truly do to make his case is to keep hitting and show he can do it with sporadic playing time. There is no doubt that Montero has a solid bat at his disposal, but for both him and the Rockies, a reason to put him in the lineup needs to make itself evident. Otherwise, he’s just going to waste away on the bench losing value.




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