Montenegro Looking To Get Ahead

Montenegro can hit the mid-90s with his fastball

ORLANDO, FL - The case of 21-year-old Panamanian pitcher Jorge Montenegro is a tale of two virtues. While he leads the team with 18 walks allowed during this season, Montenegro just climbed into third-place in strikeouts amongst his fellow pitchers when he recorded his 34th strikeout on Wednesday.

"He needs to be consistent in the strike zone. He has a great arm, but it's hard to gather that when he is constantly behind in the count," GCL Braves manager Rocket Wheeler said.

Although the 170-pound 6-footer has unleashed his ability to strike out the opposition at a high rate, it isn't until he has put runners on base that Montenegro has no choice but to throw strikes to get out of trouble.

"He has a duo of a plus-fastball and plus-curveball that work really well together. You know, he just needs to be more aggressive at getting balls over the plate in order to be successful at this level," Wheeler added.

This is Montenegro's first year playing professional baseball in the United States. In 2011, while in the Dominican Summer League, he posted a 0.87 ERA in 20.2 innings while allowing just 12 walks on the season. However, Montenegro still had his battles with command and his walks per nine innings are virtually identical when comparing his two years in pro ball.

"I am throwing harder, but still need to control my fastball. I have added two miles per hour on to my fastball," Montenegro said.

In the offseason, Montenegro attempted to put on some weight, but ended up concentrating on his conditioning and running to gain strength in his legs.

"It helped that I worked on my legs so much," Montenegro said. "I feel that the power I gained helps me do well against anyone. I'm working on my mechanics mostly now, pitching with more control. I have to control my fastball."

While all players have an area in which they wish to improve, Montenegro is one of the few that only has one issue currently weighing on his opportunity to move up in the world of the Rookie Leagues. Once he harnesses the command and control issues he will be a top-of-the-rotation starter on a regular basis.

"He's a good kid and has all of the tools to continue growing as a starter," Wheeler said. "When he starts pitching from ahead, he's going to be tough to beat."

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