Scouting Report: Zoilo Almonte

Zoilo Almonte should be high-average hitter

One of the key International signings in 2005, Zoilo Almonte was originally ticketed to debut in the United States in 2006 before landing in the Dominican Summer League. While the batting average was surprisingly low, just about everybody believes he will be one of the top switch-hitting prospects in the organization.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Zoilo Almonte
Position: Outfield
DOB: June 10, 1989
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 180
Bats: Both
Throws: Right

"Zoilo Almonte should be a batting title winner sometime in his career, that's what I see from him," Dominican Hitting Coordinator Freddy Tiburcio told us this offseason. "He's the type of player that can walk, hit a double, a single, and a home run. He's disciplined more than every kid we've got here [Dominican Instructs]. He's got the swing from both sides of the plate, power, and he can hit for average."

When looking at his batting average for DSL Yankees1 this past season, .219, it would appear Tiburcio's proclamations seem unwarranted. But as is the case with most young signees, especially those playing in their first year of professional baseball, the adjustment to playing so many games in one year is a big one.

Almonte hit .311 with three home runs, three triples, three stolen bases, and 18 RBI in his first 20 games, but faded down the stretch, hitting just .161 with 18 RBI in his final 33 games.

"I had some ups and downs. I feel pretty good about my season, but things didn't go the way I wanted them to," Zoilo Almonte said of his 2006 season through the help of Livio Oleaga translating. "I'm working on it [the batting average] both mentally and physically. I'm working very hard to have a better season next year."

While scouts believe he will hit for power in the future, Almonte is known as more of a gap-to-gap hitter right now. But he did manage to hit six home runs in the Dominican Summer League this past season however and Almonte believes it's a sign of things to come.

"My batting and power," he listed as his two biggest strengths, "but I also have some speed too. I'm looking to hit the ball up the middle and as deep in the gaps as I can."

Often compared to a Bernie Williams type as a high-average hitting switch-hitter, Almonte thinks he could possibly hit for more power when he develops and comes up with a different comparison for himself.

"Manny Ramirez," he named as the player he would compare his style of play to, "because of my swing and contact hitting ability. But I want to work on my speed more. I also want to work on my hitting, being more consistent at the plate."

Whether or not Almonte develops that kind of power down the road remains to be seen. But boasting a very patient approach at the plate for a player his age, and with his knack for hitting the gaps with regularity, just about everybody remains confident in his bat.

"Zoilo Almonte will be a .300 hitter in the Major Leagues some day," said Yankees Latin American Field Coordinator Victor Mata. He's the best switch-hitter I've ever seen in my life. I like him because he can hit from both sides. He's not a power hitter right now but he's an excellent gap hitter."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2006 DSL .219 192 6 6 36 28 4 28 52 .320 .375


Batting and Power. Almonte's batting average in 2006 isn't an indication of his approach at the plate. He can draw a good amount of walks and he's willing to sit on his pitch. Throw in the fact he is very adept at going from up the middle to the opposite field, his plan at the plate is mature beyond his years. He has already put on about 10-15 pounds since he originally signed and there's more room to grow, so his power should only get better as he matures.

Base Running and Speed. Almonte isn't all that fast, but he's quick enough to be a double-digit stolen base threat each year. He's a smart base runner for a player his age but he could stand to improve in this area.

Defense. Almonte is a solid all-around defender in the outfield. He profiles more as a left fielder because his range and arm are both average. He'll also need to improve his reads when the ball comes off the bat and his angles could be better, but that's something that can easily be improved with more experience.

Projection. Almonte is not about to win any Gold Gloves in the outfield, but the kid can flat out hit. He compares very favorably to Melky Cabrera as a very good gap hitter who has a knack of making contact. And like Melky, Zoilo's power should improve as he moves up the farm system and matures physically. He has the talent to profile as a #3 hitter in the big leagues someday if he's able to put it all together.

ETA. 2010. The comparisons to Melky Cabrera are really uncanny. Melky made the jump from the Dominican Summer League to the NY-Penn League in the following season and Zoilo Almonte could make a similar leap in 2007. It does seem unlikely that his ascension to the big leagues will be as quick however. Melky made it to the big leagues in three years from the DSL. It's a safer bet that Zoilo will need at least four years.

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