Rafael Montero showing command for Binghamton Mets

Mets starting pitcher Rafael Montero throws during the

Mets starting pitcher Rafael Montero throws during the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Washington Nationals. (March 23, 2013) (Credit: AP)

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - In baseball, statistics can provide only so much insight.

So when Rafael Montero, pitching for the Double-A Binghamton Mets, allowed 10 runs (seven earned) and 10 hits in 62/3 innings against Erie on May 1, pitching coach Glenn Abbott looked deeper than the boxscore.

"I guarantee you he's never been hit like that, given up runs like that,'' said Abbott, who pitched for the Athletics, Mariners and Tigers from 1973-84. "But the beautiful thing about it was it didn't bother him. He kept doing what he does.''

What Montero does is nail his spots with precision. Abbott says Montero, the Mets' seventh-best prospect in 2013, according to Baseball America, has better command of his pitches than many major-leaguers. Montero has struck out 48 and walked only six in 402/3 innings.

"Oh, his command will just get better,'' Abbott said. "He's just learning how to use his pitches.''

Those pitches -- a fastball, slider and changeup -- flustered Trenton for the better part of 61/3 innings Tuesday night, Montero's first start since the Erie outing. Against the Thunder, Montero allowed just one hit and one walk through six before walking the leadoff hitter in the seventh. Trenton followed with two singles, chasing Montero (3-3, 3.54 ERA) from the game and tagging him with the loss.

"It was just kind of the luck of the draw,'' Abbott said. "He just got a couple of bad breaks on a couple of hits, but he threw the ball well.''

Montero is just 22 years old, but according to Abbott, the Dominican Republic native is a student of the game.

"I'll ask him about some of these hitters, what do you notice,'' Abbott said. "He was spot on . . . He pays attention to what's going on.''

That combination of command and attentiveness make Montero an intriguing prospect.

Through the first month of this season, the big-league club's starters, except for Matt Harvey, have struggled. Abbott said there have been no talks about an imminent call-up for Montero but added he wouldn't be surprised to see him skip Triple-A for the majors this season.

"You can go from Double-A to the big leagues,'' Abbott said. "That's not unusual. You probably see that more with young pitchers than you will anybody.''

"He,'' Abbott added, "is going to be a big-league pitcher.''

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