Metro sat down with the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect —Jesus Montero — to talk about his signing five years ago, why he was almost a Met and what he thought about being called up. The designated hitter/catcher has hit three home runs in 26 at-bats since he was called up on Sept. 1.
Why did you gravitate towards catching growing up in Venezuela?
I started catching when I was thirteen years old. The coaches and my dad said I should catch because I had a better chance at getting it to the big leagues. I was doing it for four years when I signed with the Yankees in 2006.
What is the difference in your throwing mechanics from 2006 to now?
From rookie ball to now, it was a big step and amazing. Everything is quicker, everything is nice. I just try to catch right the ball as quick as I can and try to get the guy out at second base.
What were you able to do to improve those mechanics?
I just kept doing all my routines every day. Before the game, I do all my routines such as blocking and footwork. That gets me going, gets me excited for the game.
In 2006, what was it like finding out the Yankees had been interested in signing you?
They saw me as a catcher and loved my bat.
What other teams were interested?
The Mets, Seattle and Texas.
Why the Yankees?
I was really happy to be here. I was really happy to sign with the Yankees. It’s amazing and the best team in the world. This situation has been the best for me for my family and life.
Did you pay attention to trade rumors such as last year when the Yankees were attempting to get Cliff Lee?
No I wasn’t paying attention to that. I don’t decide. The Yankees were deciding on that so I don’t have anything to do with that. I was playing in Triple-A and just doing my job.
What were your emotions when you found out you were getting called up to the majors?
It was amazing for me, it was amazing for my life. It was an amazing moment to be here. I used to tell my dad, one day you’re going to see me in the big leagues on TV and I promised to that a long time ago.
How did it feel to get your first hit?
Amazing. The first hit that I got out of the way [Sept. 3] was amazing. It was an amazing moment and I’m never going to forget. That’s what I was looking for all my life and that base hit means a lot to my life.
How would describe the stuff of pitching prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances?
They are really good, really good. Betances he can throw hard, he can throw strikes. He’s got a good curveball, a good changeup and he’s an amazing guy. Banuelos is kind of the same guy, he throws hard, has a great changeup, a great curveball. He’s unbelievable. I think that guy is going to be the next Andy Pettitte.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.