Jesus Montero is in the best shape of his life.
As you might expect, this information comes to us today courtesy of the internet’s unequivocal clearinghouse of the “Best Shape of His Life” meme, HardballTalk.
Craig Calcaterra – who is, like, the Godfather of BSoHL stories – reports that Montero has dropped 30-35 pounds this off-season in preparation for the 2015 campaign.
Calcaterra shares this tweet from Seattle-based ESPN Radio announcer Shannon Drayer:
Although it feels like we’ve been talking about him forever, Montero is only 25-years-old and still has a very good chance to live up to the considerable hype that was bestowed upon him early in his career.
Montero proved that the potential is still there at Triple A last season, when he hit .286/.350/.489 with 24 doubles, 16 home runs, and 74 RBI in just 97 games.
While those numbers are impressive, Montero has always raked against minor league pitching and struggled in the big leagues. Throughout his career he’s a .302/.362/.495 hitter, good enough for a .856 OPS, in the minors and just a .258/.302/.396 hitter, with a meager .698 OPS, in the majors.
His weight issues have been an on-again, off-again issue throughout his brief and uneventful – well, mostly uneventful – big league career, so it would be great to see him finally make a serious change in attitude and commitment.
The club has apparently moved on from using Montero as a catcher, but is reportedly planning to work him out at first base in spring training.
The bulk of the starts at first base went to Logan Morrison, Justin Smoak, and Kendrys Morales last season. The latter two are no longer with the club and Morrison continued to be injury-prone and lacking in power for a corner position as he posted a .735 OPS with 11 home runs in 99 games.
Needless to say, if Montero truly is committed to getting his career back on track and keeping his weight under control, there aren’t any impossible obstacles to overcome between him and regular playing time in the coming year.
That having been said, if Montero is unable to keep the weight off or impress during spring training, it’s entirely possible his tenure with Seattle could come to an end. He’s no longer a prospect behind the dish – where his bat looked even more impressive – and he’s never produced well-enough to hang on as a regular first baseman or DH.
It’s great to see stories like this in December, but what the Mariners see out of Montero in February and March will prove vastly more important in writing the next chapter – if there is one – of Montero’s big league career.