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MOOSIC - There is little doubt that Jesus Montero is headed for Major League Baseball.
At 20 years old, Montero made his Triple-A debut at PNC Field this month ready to attack the time he needs at this level, intent to continue building a well-rounded game to take with him to the next level.
Montero began the season as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees catcher regarded as the top prospect in the New York Yankees farm system by Baseball America.
So far, Montero, who entered professional baseball as a 17-year-old, has convinced observers that his bat is for real. He has some skeptics about whether he can handle the defensive responsibilities that go with being a catcher.
“That’s where I want to be,” Montero said. “I want to be a catcher here and in the big leagues.
“I’m trying to work real hard with the pitchers. I want to be a catcher in the big leagues.”
The Yankees organization is making sure Montero gets plenty of assistance. He received instruction in spring training and will get more from the staff here and his veteran backups throughout the season.
The Yankees would probably invest time in finding a new position for Montero if that ever became necessary. He plans to make sure it will not be.
“It’s fun to be a catcher,” said Montero, who hit .273 and drove in five runs in the season-opening, eight-game homestand. “It’s fun to be a leader; to control the game from behind the plate.
“To me it’s like being a second manager.”
Dave Miley, the man with the official title as manager of the Yankees, said all Montero needs is time. It will be Miley’s responsibility to make sure Montero gets that.
“He needs to just go out and play,” Miley said. “Obviously, we all realize, he’s 20 years old.
“We worked on all the things he needs to know this spring. He just needs to get back there.”
Montero gives the Yankees a chance to continue the success of three straight division titles while offering fans a chance to watch a player expected to make a major impact in baseball.
“He’s a very advanced bat with power,” New York Yankees senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman told mlb.com. “He has improved greatly as a defender. He’s got above-average arm strength.”
Montero has established what he can produce at the plate.
After batting .326 with 17 homers and 87 RBIs at Charleston of the South Atlantic League in 2008, Montero hit .337 with 17 homers and 70 RBIs in 97 games last year. His production was nearly identical in the second half of the season at Double-A Trenton as it was to start the year at Tampa, the Yankees’ highest Class A team.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Albany River Rats won the first three games of their Calder Cup playoff series with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, pushing the Penguins to the brink of elimination going into Monday night’s Game Four.
Albany won two games at home then beat the Penguins, 2-1, in Game Three in Wilkes-Barre Sunday when Justin Peters made 31 saves.
In high school softball, the dominant pitching of Brooke Darling has Elk Lake out to a 3-0 start and tied for the Lackawanna League Division 3 lead with Lackawanna Trail. Blue Ridge started 2-0.
In high school baseball, Mountain View finished the week 3-0 and tied for first in Lackawanna League Division 3 with Lackawanna Trail. Blue Ridge is tied for third at 2-1.
In boys’ volleyball, Mountain View is 4-1 and alone in second place behind Western Wayne (5-0).
In track and field, Blue Ridge and Elk Lake and 3-1 in both the boys’ and girls’ divisions.
The two teams are tied with Holy Cross behind Mid Valley (4-0) in Division 3 boys.
They are tied with Lackawanna Trail behind Holy Cross (4-0) in Division 3 girls.
Whitney Williams has started every game of her senior season at shortstop for the University of Massachusetts, the nation’s 21st-ranked Division I softball team.
The Mountain View graduate is a former Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Year.
Williams, a second-team Atlantic 10 Conference all-star each of her first three seasons, is raising her batting average after some early struggles at the plate. She is hitting .247 with a home run, nine RBIs and two stolen bases. Williams hit .291 or better in each of her first three seasons.
UMass had won 11 straight going into the weekend to improve to 24-7 overall.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Three Lackawanna League Division 3 softball teams entered the week with unbeaten records.
Lackawanna Trail, one of those teams, is home against the other two. The Lady Lions play Blue Ridge Thursday then face Elk Lake Monday, April 26.
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will be home Saturday at 7:05 against the Albany River Rats if their first-round Calder Cup playoff series makes it as far as Game Six.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Kasey Kahne Going To Hendrick
Kasey Kahne will be leaving Richard petty Motorsports at the end of this season, for Hendrick Motorsports, but exactly which car he will be driving is yet to be determined, as Hendrick already has four teams, the maximum allowed by NASCAR.
Stewart-Haas Racing - which features drivers Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman - gets chassis and engines from Hendrick and could be a possibility for Kahne, who currently drives for Richard Petty Motorsports.
“If this opportunity was going to happen, I knew having some unanswered questions would be part of the scenario at this stage,” Kahne said in a news release. “Hendrick Motorsports has a commitment to Mark Martin that they want to fulfill, and that’s important. It’s part of what attracts me to the team.”
Kahne is in the final year of his contract at RPM. His sponsor, Budweiser, also is in the last year of its contract with RPM. A Budweiser executive said Tuesday the company has not decided on its 2011 plans.
The 30-year-old Kahne, who entered the Cup series in 2004 with Evernham Motorsports, has 11 career victories and is a two-time Chase For The Sprint Cup participant. He is 26th in the 2010 standings.
Kahne still must put energy toward determining his 2011 plans. A spokesman for JR Motorsports, another Hendrick affiliate, said that there are no current plans to go Cup racing next year, and a Stewart-Haas Racing spokesman said there are no definitive plans to add a third team.
Meanwhile there is much speculation about what the fallout will be at RPM. A team can survive if there’s a pile of cash in the bank and their teams are winning. RPM has neither of these.
Richard Petty Motorsports financial tank is about empty and all of their cars are sputtering. They need to find a way to get some fuel back back in, which isn’t too easy when your number one driver is pulling out.
Pretty soon, they will be coasting to the infield with the fuel light burning a bright red and no amount of after-hour back slapping, or press conferences is going to help.
While Kahne has been fortunate to land with good teams, most drivers that aspire to race at the Cup level are not so lucky.
To get started in racing, a young driver had better come into the deal with a great deal of available capital, no matter what form of racing is being considered.
With that said, one has to reason that many young, up and coming drivers must have rich dads, and in at least some cases that is correct.
This past weekend, driver John Wes Townley became part of the story of the Nationwide Series race in Phoenix. After a practice crash, team owner Richard Childress removed him from the No. 21 Chevrolet in favor of the more experienced Clint Bowyer.
The 20 year old Townley has raced in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide Series since 2008. And despite the fact that he has never recorded a top-10 finish in either of those series’, he has driven for a team tied with Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Childress Racing.
So, how with virtually no racing resume to speak of did Townley land such high profile rides?
The simple answer to that question is money. His father, Tony Townley, is a co-founder and the chief financial officer of the Zaxby’s restaurant chain, hence the reason why his son’s cars are always sponsored by that company.
Townley’s history in NASCAR is a story of one crash after another. If he has any racing talent it is difficult to see. The only thing he brings to the table, literally and figuratively, is money, not just chicken feed.
A number of other modern day stars and non-stars alike have similar stories. Could this be all we as fans have to look forward to in future race drivers?
Rusty Wallace’s son, Stephen, got his break in racing through obvious means. Along the way he has left a trail of destroyed equipment. Crashes have become all too common for this young driver
Brendan Gaughan’s father operates the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which is coincidently the sponsor of his RWI ride. Gaughan has won eight truck series races and has competed in all three of NASCAR’s top levels.
Sprint Cup driver Paul Menard’s father’s owns a chain of home improvement stores, and has sponsored him throughout his racing career.
Racing could well become an exclusive playground of only the wealthy in the very near future.
Are drivers with no experience but a pocket full of money going to be crashing their way up the ranks until they reach the highest levels? Trends seem to indicate that may well be the case.
Weekend Racing: The Cup and Nationwide teams are at Talladega Superspeedway, the longest track on NASCAR’s circuit (2.66-miles). The Truck teams do not race again until May 2.
Sat., Apr. 24, Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312; Starting time: 2:30 p.m. ET; TV: ABC.
Sun., Apr. 25, Spring Cup Aaron’s 499; Starting time: 1 p.m. ET; TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Who is the oldest driver to ever win a Cup race? Hint: It happened March 20, 1993 at Atlanta.
Last Week’s Question: Where is Cup driver Paul Menard’s hometown? Answer. It is Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 21 Hoops AAU basketball program began its Spring Tournament campaign with a strong showing at the 12th annual Run N Gun Classic in Binghamton April 10-11. The weekend was highlighted by the 17U team capturing the White Division Championship with a 59-54 win over New Hartford.
The team began the weekend dropping the opener 64-47 to the Sidney Warriors. The team rebounded to take the second game 63-57 over the Adirondack Highlanders. With their backs against the wall, the team opened play on Sunday with a convincing 50-36 win over the STNY Flyers to force a tie for the FF Pool championship and claim to the #1 seed to represent the pool in the championship game.
Team members include Bill Stranburg (Montrose Area), Joe Woolcock (Elk Lake), Tanner Holmes (Lackawanna Trail), Alex Cardoza (Blue Ridge), James Hawk (Tunkhannock), Kyle Kiehart (Lakeland), Forest City's Jason McGovern and David Cavalieri, Sawyer Dearborn (Blue Ridge), and Mountain View's Chris Herman and Julian Williams.
In other action the 16U teams finished with a combined record of 1-7. Despite losing three of its four games by a total of 10 points including an overtime heartbreaker to eventual Division Champion D-Squad the 21 Hoops Black squad finished 0-4, while the White team captured 7th place with a 59-51 win over the NEPA Warriors.
The 13 team also captured 7th place by winning their final game 62-50 over RAP Rogers. The 12U team finished 1-3 on the weekend and the 14U went 0-4 in an extremely competitive division.
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