Johan Montero: Curveball Control Key To First Half Success

There are a few specific things you want to see from pitchers as they continue their development. Maybe the biggest is an improvement when it comes to their control. Another is an added ability to miss bats and get strikeouts.

Bradenton reliever Johan Montero is currently checking both of those boxes off this season, and is emerging as another go-to reliever for the Marauders in 2022.

The 22-year-old from Venezuela spent last season in the Florida Complex League and put up less than ideal numbers in his 11 appearances, posting a 7.31 ERA in 16 innings, walking 10 and striking out only 14 batters.

He was sent to Bradenton to begin the 2022 season, and has looked like a completely different pitcher in the first half of the season. Montero owns a 3.94 ERA currently, but it’s really been two outings that has inflated that number. Seven of his 13 earned runs he’s allowed on the year came in two appearances, 3 1/3 innings overall. Remove those, and his ERA drops to 2.05.

One of the biggest changes has been his control, with Montero walking just 7.8% of the batters he’s faced this year (as opposed to 12.8% in 2021). The strikeouts are up almost 10% this season (from 17.9% to 26.7%), and a lot of that success has been through his better control.

Montero deploys two-pitches, a fastball and a curveball, simple, but effective for a reliever especially in the lower levels.


Velocity 93.36-mph
Spin Rate 2059.79-rpm
Vertical Break 18.7-inches
Horizontal Break 12.75-inches
Usage 60.6%
Whiff Rate 22.08%
Called Strike-Whiff% 23.57%

Montero has a heavy fastball approach, throwing it almost two-thirds of the time. It’s an interesting fastball, as looking at it through Baseball Savant, it reads almost like a changeup with it’s movement and spin rate but he throws it in the mid-90s.

Not everyone is going to throw a high spin rate on their pitches, but it almost speaks to the movement that he generates with it at times. Looking back at some of the other pitchers that I have done a breakdown for, only Anthony Solometo really compares when it comes to the combination of vertical and horizontal break on his fastball.

The whiff rate isn’t really anything to write home about, but it’s a respectable mark for a fastball. He’s able to get a lot more run when he throws it to his arm side of the plate, which makes sense not wanting to leave too much of it over the strike zone throwing it away.


Velocity 77.6-mph
Spin Rate 2236.85-rpm
Vertical Break 49.13-inches
Horizontal Break 3.32-inches
Usage 38.5%
Whiff Rate 43.75%
Called Strike-Whiff% 38.76%

Using his fastball so often sets up his curveball, which statistically speaking, is a decent enough of a pitch. Montero is getting a whiff nearly 50% of the time batters swing at it, and can throw it for strikes at any point in the count.

The pitch itself can get a little slurvy, almost forming into a slider but with less velocity. The vertical break isn’t bad, has among those I have logged so far, compares to a Justin Meis slider or Carlos Jimenez curveball — both good pitches on their own.

Montero has shown some promise when it comes to the spin rate on the curve, he just hasn’t been consistent with it. An average of 2236-rpm isn’t bad for someone in Single-A though, and if he’s able to increase some extra break could be added as well.

As you can see in the video, one of the things that impressed me the most about Montero was his ability to place the curve on either side of the plate. He’s able to get called strikes on either side, mixed in with the ability to break it out of the zone to get swing and misses.

Final Look

One final look at Montero, incorporating both of his pitches to game situations. In the first video, Montero mixes in both of his fastball and curveball throughout the seven pitch at-bat. He nearly hits the batter with a curve, but coming inside like that set up the final pitch fastball. He was also able to throw a couple of curves to get called strikes, breaking them over the middle of the zone as well on the corner.

The next batter he finishes off in three pitches, throwing two fastballs before getting him on an ugly check swing with the curveball.

Finally, Montero faces former first round pick Keoni Cavaco in the Minnesota Twins system. He throws all curveballs, using both side of the plate, even trying to break one at the top corner of the zone with one of his more slurvy of breaking pitches.

He gets Cavaco looking on a breaking ball to the inner half the pitch after he nearly got him on the outer half.

While it’s no guarantee that a lot of the 2022 draft picks get into game action this year, the shear amount of college arms they took could lead to a couple of stepping into Bradenton the way Justin Meis and Nick Dombrowski (undrafted) did the previous season.

If that’s the case Montero is a prime candidate to get moved up to Greensboro to make room on the roster. If he does, he’ll join Dante Mendoza, Denny Roman and Cristian Charle as Bradenton relievers to get a promotion to High-A.


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Johan Montero: Curveball Control Key To First Half Success

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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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Sounds he has made great progress this year….its too bad he isn’t 20 instead of 22 in Low A ball.


These articles are so much fun to follow


I love that players I know little to nothing about are also highlighted on these videos!

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