Scouting Yankees Prospect #25:Abraham Almonte

Almonte is as dynamic as they get

The Yankees signed then second baseman Abraham Almonte out of the Dominican Republic back in 2005. He struggled defensively at that position so they moved him to centerfield towards the end of the 2007 season. One of the more electric players in the organization, shoulder labrum surgery caused him to miss most of the 2010 season.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Abraham Almonte
Position: Centerfield
DOB: June 27, 1989
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 185
Bats: Both
Throws: Right

The switch-hitter hit a robust .368 in his final 33 games with the Charleston RiverDogs in 2009 before becoming one of the best players in Spring Training last year. Seemingly poised for a breakout season that everyone had been waiting for, he lasted just 15 games with the Tampa Yankees before requiring surgery on his shoulder.

"I felt really good this year too," Almonte said. "Those first couple of weeks in Tampa, I felt really good. So now I know I can do it [next year]."

"When he went down with the injury I knew immediately that we lost our best player all-around," Tampa Yankees manager Torre Tyson said. "I really wish I could have seen what he would have done this year because I'm pretty sure, among all of the guys I've seen over my eight years that I've coached at this level, to see him figure things out and me keep questioning it the first year and then to see him in Spring Training with the maturity and the leadership, the confidence, you could see that he knew he was the man and we all knew he was too."

A burner on the bases who also has very good power, Almonte's dynamic play-making abilities and versatility in a lineup could have made Tampa's successful Florida State League championship defense a bit easier.

"I was really looking forward to putting him leadoff," Tyson continued. "He could have changed our team. As a matter of fact he could have hit anywhere from one to three for us. That was a huge blow to our team.

"I still don't know how we made it through without him. It was just a huge blow on the field with the running, power, speed, and defense, but also with the leadership he brings, especially to the Latin American players."

A Jose Reyes type of player, Almonte has always had the physical tools to be considered one of the organization's top prospects but it has been his mental maturation over the years that had many believing he was ready to take his game to the next level.

"He's been my guy the last three years," said Tyson, who managed Almonte the previous two years in Charleston. "We've worked our tail off on base stealing aspect and I can guarantee you that most of Melky Mesa's progress as a base stealer [in 2010] is from Abraham teaching him what he got from me teaching him.

"I kind of use Abraham on a daily basis - I even had Abraham there the last month of the season in our dugout as kind of an extra coach.

"We had a young kid there at the time, Anderson Feliz, we had him on the bench and I had Abraham tell him in the seventh inning what I wanted him to do in the ninth inning and how we're going to steal this base.

"So his value to me as a coach, I'm really going to miss him next year because I know he's going to be in Double-A. I'm really going to miss him because I've been spoiled the last three years."

With his 2010 nearly a complete wash from playing in actual games, Almonte and the Yankees now have to look to next season to see if he can grab some national attention as one of the better prospects.

"I think this [next] year is going to be a good year for me," Almonte said. "God didn't want me to play this past year so I have to take it, but I think this [coming] year will be a good year for me."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2010 Tampa .263 57 3 0 3 9 5 6 16 .333 .351
2009 Charleston .280 440 14 5 56 63 36 35 81 .333 .391
2008 Charleston .228 443 20 8 46 61 29 47 101 .303 .359
2007 GCL Yankees .288 160 4 3 16 29 8 21 34 .372 .406
2006 DSL .254 209 11 8 26 51 36 55 45 .409 .450


Batting and Power. With great bat speed, patience, good pitch recognition, selectivity, and surprising home run power, Almonte has all of the makings of a potentially special hitter. He had battled inconsistent swing mechanics over the years, not uncommon for young switch-hitters, but that seems to no longer be an issue. The natural right-handed hitter has become an even more dangerous hitter from the left side recently, especially power-wise, and he has worked hard to perfect his bunting abilities. He has average power now to all fields with above average power potential long-term.

Base Running and Speed. Almonte has always been a plus-plus runner speed-wise, but he struggled learning pitchers' moves and when to pick his spots to run. That too is no longer an issue and he now projects to be a big-time threat stealing bases.

Defense. Almonte has found a home in centerfield where his plus speed allows him to be a true ball-hawk shagging down line-drives. He had a plus arm too before he went down with the shoulder surgery on his throwing arm so it might take some time to get that power back, but he's a plus defensive player in every other way.

Projection. The similarities to Jose Reyes are quite uncanny ability-wise. Like Reyes, Almonte is a truly dynamic player who can help his team both offensively and defensively in a variety of ways. He has the small-ball skills to get on base via the walk or the bunt, but he also has the power to hit liners into the alleys and his plus speed makes him a threat to score on any play. He has shown more patience than Reyes at the minor league level, however, and that could make him more of an ideal leadoff hitter down the road. He already safely projects as a big league reserve outfielder at minimum, but his ceiling is as high as it gets and he has the potential to be a big-time run producer at the big league level.

ETA. 2012. Despite missing nearly all of the 2010 season, Almonte's game is arguably ready for Double-A in 2011 but the organization will most likely start him off back in Tampa. Either way he should see ample time in Trenton.

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