It's been a long road for Luis Montanez. The Cubs drafted him 3rd overall more than a decade ago. He was one of the hottest, fastest rising prospects in the 2000 draft. He was a shortstop from Coral Park, Miami back then. Some scouts were calling him the next Alex Rodriguez. At the very least, Montanez looked like he had a chance to be the next in line of great hitting shortstops that once included Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Miguel Tejada.
Since then, things have changed.
Montanez is no longer a hot prospect. He's not a shortstop and, until this spring, wasn't even a Cub anymore. He had been picked up by Baltimore, a sort of halfway house for former Cubs . Former Cubs GM Andy McPhail is in charge there and since then guys like Corey Patterson, Scott Moore, Felix Pie, Rocky Cherry, Freddy Bynum, and Rich Hill have joined Montanez as failed prospects getting a second chance with the Orioles.
Montanez found his power stroke in Baltimore's system, hitting .335 with 26 home runs and a .601 slugging percentage in 2008. He got his first call to the big leagues that year and continued his hot hitting, finishing the end of the year hitting .295 with 3 home runs for the big club. Since then, Montanez has been riding the shuttle between AAA and the minors. This year for the Cubs, he was hitting .369 with 5 home runs. His OPS is an outstanding 1.002.
Some would deem him a AAAA player at this point -- too good for the minors and maybe not good enough for the majors. The Cubs have seen their share of such players, including Matt Murton and Micah Hoffpauir -- but every so often, some of these "veteran" prospects stick around for a while, as former Cub prospect Casey McGehee is doing with the Brewers. It remains to be seen which category Montanez belongs in, but it's safe to say the odds are against him. Still, Montanez has been left for dead in the past and has made his way all the way back to the majors for the team that drafted him over a decade ago -- so it may not be a good idea to bet against him either.