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Montero's power on display in camp

Montero's power on display in camp

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TAMPA, Fla. -- It isn't every day that someone dents the top of the scoreboard at George M. Steinbrenner Field, but Jesus Montero has already left his mark on this Florida replica of Yankee Stadium.

The power-hitting 20-year-old had onlookers buzzing during a batting-practice session on Monday afternoon, striking the top of the "M" high above the area past the left-field wall.

"I just try to put a good swing on the ball, hit it hard every single time, and that's what happens," Montero said.

Montero said that he is finding his swing a little bit, and though it's not quite where he wants it for game action, he said, "It's going to be there." However, Monday's shot off coach Butch Wynegar didn't even rank in his top few deep drives.

"Last year, I hit a couple of very good ones, very far, too, at Double-A," Montero said. "One of those home runs, I was like, 'Wow. I can't believe that I did that.'"

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he didn't see Montero strike the scoreboard, but he wasn't necessarily surprised by it.

"He puts the barrel of the bat on the ball, and he has the ability to cut down his swing when he needs to do that," Girardi said. "He has a good idea."

Girardi said that he has already seen improvements in Montero's receiving and blocking, and that the top prospect is past the elementary stages in his development. The Yankees continue to project Montero as a Major League catcher, though many have suggested that the 6-foot-4, 225-pound slugger could be a future first baseman, designated hitter or perhaps a corner outfielder.

In any event, it is their current plan that Montero will use 2010 as a development year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, though obviously he would prefer to see the Major Leagues sooner rather than later.

"I hope they give me the opportunity as quick as they can, you know?" Montero said. "Whatever they're going to do with me, I just do it."

And one thing Montero can certainly do is hit. He batted .337 with 17 home runs and 70 RBIs in 92 games between Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton last year before suffering a season-ending finger injury.

"I'm just trying to get my swing good, get better every single day," Montero said. "I'm trying to work on my catching every single day, and focus on that. Hitting, I'm just keeping my routines every single day."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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