Montas breezed through the fifth through seventh innings, allowing just one hit while retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced. He sat at 98-100 mph with his fastball and at 88-90 mph with his cutter/slider while also mixing in a few changeups. He threw 29 of 42 pitches for strikes, fanning five batters.
"I missed a lot of time during the season," said Montas, a 23-year-old right-hander now with the Athletics. "This is going to help me get back to where I was and to work on what I need to work on to get better. I'm mostly getting innings and working on a changeup. I'm also trying to get my confidence back and throw more strikes."
Originally signed by the Red Sox for $75,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, Montas went to the White Sox in the three-team Jake Peavy /Jose Iglesias trade in July 2013. Chicago sent him to the Dodgers as part of the three-team Todd Frazier deal last December. Los Angeles planned on developing Montas as a starter, and given all the injuries in its big league rotation this season, he certainly would have gotten a chance to contribute had he been healthy.
Instead, Montas began the season on the 60-day disabled list after having February surgery to remove a rib from his right side after he was diagnosed with a stress fracture. He returned to the mound in late May with hopes he still could help the decimated Dodgers rotation, but he went back on the DL in June with a related rib issue.
He was on the move again at the Trade Deadline, one of three pitchers Los Angeles sent to Oakland in exchange for Rich Hill and Josh Reddick. While he admits his first trade was tough to deal with, Montas now takes his changes of address in stride.
"At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter what team you play for," he said. "Somebody wants you and you're going to play in the big leagues. I wasn't expecting to get traded by the Dodgers, but it's a business and you get used to it. The A's wanted me and they see me in the big leagues."
Whether Montas sticks in the Majors as a starter or reliever remains to be seen. He has shown he can maintain premium velocity into the late innings of starts and has reached 102 mph with his fastball. His slider can be a wipeout pitch at times, though it's less consistent.
Some scouts see Montas as a late-inning bullpen option because he doesn't have a track record of throwing strikes. He also never has worked more than 127 innings in a season, so his durability is also in question. But no one doubts the power in his right arm.
The Solar Sox lost despite Montas' strong outing. Desert Dogs outfielder Ramon Laureano (Astros), who has been one of the best players early in the AFL season, singlehandedly snapped a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the eighth. He hit a ground-rule double with one out against right-hander John Stilson (Blue Jays), then stole third base one out later and scored on a throwing error by catcher Victor Caratini (Cubs).