Scouting Yanks Prospect #17: Abraham Almonte

Almonte is slowly developing into a top prospect

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. Since that time he has worked tirelessly on getting consistent in all phases of the game and he might be on the cusp of becoming a top prospect real soon.

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

The switch-hitter hit just .228 in his first full season playing centerfield in 2008 and because of that he was forced to repeat the low-A level once again in 2009.

A .234 average at the end of July in his second year with the Charleston Riverdogs, however, had him at a crossroads of sorts until a blistering .368 average in his final 33 games helped save his season and resurrect what had started to become his fading prospect status.

"I want to keep playing hard and to think that nothing is impossible — just keep doing what I'm doing," Almonte said through the help of a translator.

Traditionally young switch-hitters are streaky by nature because it's difficult for them to repeat their swing mechanics from each side of the plate and it usually takes them a little bit longer to develop as a result.

But while a hot month-and-a-half stretch might seem too small a sample size to some critics, Almonte's manager is fully convinced he turned a corner in his development.

"This was a big year for him because he was kind of going through offensively the same year he had the year before and looking like he was only going to hit .230," Charleston manager Torre Tyson said. "And then he started figuring some things out, which I think is really tough to do for a switch-hitter.

"He looked really good from both sides of the plate at the end of the year and it was a good seven or eight week stretch, so it wasn't one of his normal streaky stretches. It wasn't like the year before where he busted out some huge numbers in the beginning and then guys started flicking some stuff up there and then he struggled.

"I think he really learned how to have a better approach and use the whole field. He just became a smarter ball player."

The offensive turnaround late in the year was a welcomed sight for sure, but it was how quickly he evolved from a defensive question mark into an asset in his second year of outfield play that got many excited.

"Defensively he went from costing us ball games two years ago to winning us ball games this year," Tyson said. "Obviously he's only played outfield for two years and there were some growing pains, but now he takes charge.

"He moves the outfielders and I don't even have to look out there when he's playing centerfield. I just let him go. He reads the swings, he moves the players, and it's a joy to watch."

A five tool talent who has had to experience the growing pains of switch-hitting and learning a brand new position, it appears Almonte benefited from repeating the low-A level and he seems to have finally start tapping his vast potential.

"I think when you look at him as the total player - I think we get wrapped up in batting averages and just the offensive numbers - but when you look at him as a baseball player, he has come leaps and bounds from the start two years ago with me to now," Tyson added. "You look at him and he's eventually going to be a five-tool guy if he hits."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

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. Almonte has all the tools to be a very good hitter someday - good patience, plus bat speed, good pitch recognition, and selectivity. His biggest problem prior to the second-half of the 2009 season was repeating his swing mechanics from both sides of the plate, but especially from his unnatural left side in particular. Despite being a smaller player, he has good power to all fields from both sides of the plate but now he has burgeoning above average pull-power from the left side. He is also a pretty good bunter.

Base Running and Speed. He not only became a more consistent offensive player and a much better defensive player, but he also made dramatic strides in his base stealing abilities. He has always been a plus runner, but he started learning how to steal signs in 2009 and he has become a much more intelligent base stealer. He has some 50+ stolen base seasons coming his way in the future.

Defense. Almonte's plus speed made him a bit of a natural range-wise in centerfield, but it took a couple of years to learn all the nuances of the position like positioning his corner outfielders, taking better routes on balls, etc. He has become a stud defensive centerfielder who has a strong arm too.

Projection. Almonte is about as dynamic a player as you'll find anywhere. His power is solid, he can get on base many different ways, and his speed is so electrifying that he is a threat to score every time he gets on first base. It's because of that speed that he also has the ability to be a game-changer defensively. He has been compared to a centerfield version of Jose Reyes because of his dynamic abilities and in a lot of ways he is the reason why Austin Jackson became somewhat expendable. For now it's about showing consistent swing mechanics from both sides of the plate in order to start tapping that sky high ceiling of his as a future big league leadoff hitter and run producer.

ETA. 2012. Almonte is set to begin the 2010 season in the Florida State League with the Tampa Yankees. If his late-season surge last year wasn't a fluke, he could start moving up levels quickly.

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