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NEW YORK - JULY 13:   Jesus Montero #35 of the New York Yankees and playing for the World Futures Team looks on during batting practice before the 2008 XM All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium on July 13, 2008 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)


Jesus Montero, Now a New York Yankee

It's been a long time coming, but the day seems to have finally arrived. Today is the day of the MLB roster expansion, and the word on the web is that the Yankees will expand to include their top prospect, 21-year-old catcher, Jesus Montero. The native Venezuelan and recent resident of Moosic, Pennsylvania, is expected to join the Yankees in Boston, just in time for their series-ending tilt against the Red Sox at 7:10 p.m. He may well be one of the men to take the plate against Jon Lester this evening. After months — years, even — of speculation, we might finally get an early impression of where Montero fits and what he can do.

Montero is a catcher by trade, but his deftness with a bat is what has folks excited. As was foreseen in these parts a month ago, the right-handed Montero projects most immediately as a designated hitter. That being the case, the youngster's inclusion in the lineup — tonight or otherwise —  will likely come at the expense of the New York's oldest batsman. (Update: The most recent report is that Montero will, indeed, be the starting DH tonight.) From the Post:

Because the first door open to Montero is going to be the regular DH against lefty pitching and then the Yankees could see if the youngster could expand upon that to DH against all pitching. It is one reason the Yankees do not want to be discussing Montero right now; because it would be yet another moment — coincidentally during another Yankees-Red Sox series -- in which they could be slapping down Jorge Posada.

So the move will require some tact, but the fit seems most natural. For one, Montero's chief weakness, we're told, is his defense. For two, he's got momentum. Montero leaves a fine August in his wake, batting .308/.370/.604 with eight home runs. Especially against lefties, he could make a splendid DH. If he does join the regular lineup, Montero could be an instant sensation. In all likelihood, though, we should temper our expectations for the new guy who, let's not forget, is barely old enough to pop celebratory champagne legally. From Pinstripe Alley:

I don't particularly put a tremendous amount of stock into what he shows us over the course of the next 28 games. Who knows how many games he'll actually see action in? Playing irregularly off the bench and trying to live up to sometimes unreasonably high expectations could cause a dip in numbers. Adjusting to big league pitching will take time as well. I don't mean to come across as a downer, but what he shows this month won't necessarily be indicative of future performance. 

Indeed, patience is key. That said, if Montero's ascent to the big show is as precipitate as expected and he's swinging bats this evening, it'll be hard to quell the excitement one way or the other.

Photo: Jim McIsaac/2008 Getty Images