The Washington Nationals selected Luke Montz in the 17th round of the 2003 out of Hill College. Playing around and through injuries in 2005, the righty swinging catcher showed pure power and the ability to hit at a higher level. For these reasons and more, he's our Nationals prospect #20. (Free Preview!)
Scouting Nationals Prospect #20: Luke Montz
Here's a scouting report on Nationals' prospect #20, Luke Montz.
Montz has big league power.
Montz has big league power.
http://nationals.scout.com/2/498380.html
CapitolDugout.com
Feb 9, 2006

Scouting Nationals Prospect #20: Luke Montz

Montz has big league power.

The Washington Nationals selected Luke Montz in the 17th round of the 2003 out of Hill College. Playing around and through injuries in 2005, the righty swinging catcher showed pure power and the ability to hit at a higher level. For these reasons and more, he's our Nationals prospect #20. (Free Preview!)

Vital Statistics
Name: Luke Montz
Position: Catcher
DOB: July 7, 1983
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 205
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Just when it looked as if Luke Montz was becoming the slugging catcher that the organization had hoped he would develop into, the power hitting righty ran into not one, but a series of roadblocks in 2005. After bashing an impressive ten long balls with Vermont in 2004, the bar was set a bit higher for Montz, but that didn't appear to slow him down at the outset of the 2005 campaign with Savannah. Things were going smoothly, that is until a series of injuries put his breakout season temporarily on hold.

At the start of the 2005 season, it looked as if Luke Montz was taking a stranglehold on the tag of the organization's top catching prospect. And, although he still seems to hold that title in close competition with Savannah teammate, Devin Ivany, the 2005 season proved to be a challenging one for the 22 year old backstop. After crushing 9 home runs through only about a month and half of the season, it looked as if Luke was on his way to a monster season, that is until the injury bug bit him again and again.

"It started in May when I pulled my groin," Montz told CapitolDugout.com. "It was just a grounder that I was trying to beat out. We were playing in Charleston and I was trying to beat it out at first base. I wasn't sure if I tore it or not, but it was a bad strain. So, I ended up missing like a month because of that. Then, later on, I had a collision at first base and I hurt my wrist. I missed like ten days because of that. Then, I got hit with a couple foul tips behind the plate and I missed like a week because of that."

So, what is a hitter to do in a situation like this? Playing through pain behind the plate and battling ongoing timing issues at the plate, things certainly weren't easy for the Louisiana native. Therefore, it is easy to see where his problems were coming up offensively and why his overall statistics may look rather unimpressive in many ways.

"When I came back, I was way off at the plate," the righty swinging catcher explained. "I was like 0-10 when I came off the disabled list, but I finally broke out with a swinging bunt or something like that. It was definitely hard coming back. I ended up beating myself up about it quite a bit and I ended up digging a bigger whole for myself. Its just hard to get timing back."

Yes, Luke Montz is a good looking young hitter. But, perhaps his more important job is what he does day in and day out behind the dish and working with the pitching staff. The job he does as a catcher not only impacts his career, but most likely the careers of many pitchers as well. And, there's no one who takes that role more serious than Luke Montz.

"I caught 105 games this year and you have to be together with the pitchers in every one of those games," Montz stressed in his response. "I had a great relationship with all the guys on the staff and that is the way it has to be in order for it to work. You have to be on lock with all of them. You have to know the different styles of every pitcher and you have to just know their games."

2005 looked as if it was going to be a breakout season for Luke Montz, but that big campaign was likely only delayed by one season. So, looking ahead to 2006, Montz should be clicking on all cylinders for what should be a full season with the Potomac Nationals. But, potential breakout season or not, Montz is keep his goals relatively simple.

"I think I just want to get an everyday catching job," he proclaimed. "I just want to be able to go out there day in and day out and be the guy. I want to get more experience in calling a game and just become a better, smarter overall catcher. So, I just want to be behind the plate as much as I can because that's how I'm going to become a better player."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB BB SO OBP

SLG

2005

Savannah

.224

343

24

19

68

66

1 50 95 .324

.466



Batting and Power. Luke Montz has made a name for himself with his bat and if he makes it to the big leagues, he will be taken there by his slugging tendencies. He may never be a perennial .300 type of hitter because of his pull oriented swing. But, he has worked tirelessly in the past months to make himself more of a rounded hitter that can drive the ball to all fields rather than just a pull happy slugger. And, with his work ethic in mind, it wouldn't be shocking to see him make legitimate strides in that direction in time for the 2006 season. The former Hill College standout also is going to rack up his fair share of strikeouts but his improving walk totals and thunderous power make those totals far more acceptable. The bottom line here is that Luke will always be a big time power hitting prospect, but spraying the ball to all fields will be the key to him becoming a complete hitter.

Base running and speed. In the speed department, Luke Montz does not have a lot going for him if you look at the usual stereotypes. For one, he's a catcher, and secondly, he's a slugger. More often than not, those two factors don't usually equal a speedy ballplayer. And, Luke Montz is not an exception. His speed is not awful, but it is definitely not one of his strengths.

Defense. Like it was already established, Luke Montz will sink or float with his bat. Right now, his defense is nothing to write home about in comparison to strong "catch and throw" catchers in the system, Erick San Pedro and Devin Ivany. His work ethic and ability to work well with a pitching staff will keep him in the mix behind the plate, but a permanent move to first base may eventually be in the cards. This would not only be as a result of his less than stellar defense, but to keep his bat in the lineup and off the disabled list.

Projection. Montz, at this point in his career, is a tough player to project because we still have not seen what a full, healthy season of his might look like. But, he looks as if he might be able to hit .260-.270 with 30 home run power at the big league level. But, again, he may eventually be relegated to playing first base.

ETA. Late 2008. Considering the pace he has moved through the organization thus far, it is safe to say that Montz will likely continue his steady rise in the same fashion over the next couple years. And, by late late 2008, he may get his first taste of professional baseball.