CINCINNATI -- The entire World Team dugout expected a triple-digit fastball on Sunday afternoon and Frankie Montas didn’t disappoint.
Though the World Team lost to the U.S. Team 10-1 in the Futures Game at Great American Ballpark, the White Sox Double-A pitcher created quite a stir among his teammates in the sixth inning when he threw consecutive 101-mph fastballs. As if that weren’t enough, Montas backed up those efforts with a 99-mph heater.
While Montas allowed three earned runs and four hits in two-thirds of an inning, he more than enjoyed himself a year after a knee injury forced him to miss the 2014 Futures Game.
“Everybody was expecting it,” Montas said. “‘That’s the guy that throws 100.’ So everybody was expecting me to throwing something hard.”
One of three minor-leaguers acquired from Boston in the Jake Peavy deal that also brought Avisail Garcia from Detroit, Montas is 2-1 with a 2.47 ERA over 73 innings for Birmingham this season.
The fastball may have scouts, executives and coaches drooling, but Montas and the White Sox are focused on the development of his slider and changeup. Not satisfied with a slow start -- he had a 3.60 ERA through seven starts in 2015 –- after his first big league camp this spring, Montas has worked hard to improve command of his secondary pitches.
Though he produced a 1.44 ERA in 15 starts, Montas didn’t have as much development time in a 2014 season disrupted by separate knee surgeries for a torn meniscus (the left knee was in March, the right in June). Over his last seven starts, Montas has a 1.42 ERA in 38 innings.
“Slider has been better and the changeup, I’ve started to get a feel for it,” Montas said. “Last year when I was in High-A I was doing great. This year at the beginning I was not doing how I expected to do. Thank God I figured out some things and I’m doing better.
“Everything is going well.”
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Montas’ season has gone so well the White Sox had to limit his June 20 and July 9 starts to an inning so he could pitch in exhibitions. He appeared in the Southern League All-Star Game on June 23, reaching 102 mph on the radar gun. That appearance raised expectations among his teammates Sunday, who went crazy when he topped 100 despite a lopsided score.
“I was like ‘Ok, let me throw a couple,’” Montas said. “It was a really good experience.
“Lot of fans and you get an opportunity to play with the best players on all the teams. It’s real exciting. I enjoyed it even though we lost the game.”