Montgomery makes mark in rotation battle

Yankees No. 13 prospect strikes out nine with eye on No. 5 spot

Jordan Montgomery built off an impressive Spring Training, where he had a 3.20 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

By Chris Tripodi / MiLB.com | April 7, 2017 1:01 AM

More than a month of Spring Training wasn't enough to decide the competition for the fifth spot in the Yankees' rotation, so Jordan Montgomery and Chad Green took their battle to Class A Advanced Tampa. Based on Thursday's results, Montgomery is in the lead.

Not only did the Yankees' No. 13 prospect start the game, he struck out nine over five innings in Tampa's 2-1 loss to Lakeland. Montgomery allowed an unearned run, three hits and one walk.

The 6-foot-6 left-hander found himself in trouble after one batter, allowing a ground-rule double to Ross Kivett on the second pitch of the game. He retired the next three batters to get out of the inning.

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Montgomery retired six straight until yielding a single to David Gonzalez with one out in the third, but he again made quick work of the final two Flying Tigers. After a 1-2-3 fourth, the 2014 fourth-round pick walked the leadoff man and watched him take second on a passed ball. Two batters later, Arvicent Perez singled to right field to score the first run of the game.

A fly ball off Gonzalez's bat that resulted in a double play ended the frame and Montgomery's start. The University of South Carolina product gave way to Green after 69 pitches, including 47 strikes. 

Green, New York's No. 22 prospect, struck out the first batter he faced before allowing a single that was quickly erased on a double play. The 25-year-old right-hander retired the next six hitters before Kivett homered to right-center leading off the ninth. Green responded by striking out two of the final three batters.

The Tigers' 11th-round pick in 2013 finished his night with five strikeouts in four innings, allowing one earned run on two hits and throwing 34 of 49 pitches for strikes.

Three days off in the first two weeks of the season allowed the Yankees to carry an extra reliever and delay their decision on a fifth starter. Whoever wins the rotation spot is slated to start April 16 against St. Louis.

Montgomery and Green had excellent springs, a major reason the Yankees wanted to take more time to make their decision. Montgomery had a 3.20 ERA and 17-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 19 2/3 innings, while Green compiled a 1.50 ERA with shakier control, walking six in 12 frames.

Tito Polo had three of Tampa's five hits, including a sixth-inning RBI single that tied the game.

Kivett was the Flying Tigers' offensive star, going 2-for-4 with a homer and double.

Chris Tripodi is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @christripodi. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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