The bat, I think, will never be good. Almonte's particular blend of high strikeouts and low power is a proven loser in the major leagues (just ask Justin Smoak). The walks are nice, but they aren't enough to redeem him unless he finds more ISO. Seems like his most likely scenario is as a Cliff-Penningtonesque hitter... which means he needs to stick in CF, and be good there, if he wants to succeed in the majors. His glove will have to carry his bat. Not a guy you want in LF or RF.
During the ROOT telecast they gushed about Abraham Almonte on Monday afternoon (in May - Dr D). They quoted a notable scout saying, "Almonte is good enough to be in Seattle right now," which is scout-speak for "Almonte could step into the lineup in Seattle and improve their team immediately."
There isn't much in Almonte's statline to go off. If you just joined us, the Mariners took him back from NYY for Shawn Kelley, and he's never been an org top-10 prospect. He is 24 and has hit .264/.343/.391 in 8 minor league seasons, with an EYE around 0.60; we told you there wasn't much there. It's an important excuse that his 2010 season was lost to a shoulder injury.
That said, some players are scouting projections, guys who don't do much and then, at such and such an age, "suddenly" blossom. Garrett Jones spent 11 seasons in the minors with stats about like Almonte's, and then suddenly slugged .567 as a 28-year-old rookie. Raul Ibanez. Ryan Howard was a laughingstock, in Seattle, until he became an MVP. Jason Varitek. Jose Bautista, pretty much. You don't have to be a sabermetric player. Org's chase the dream on physically-gifted players.
BaseballHQ didn't even have Almonte in their book this winter. The year before they gave him an "8E" grade, slim chance at being a major leaguer with a cap of "above average regular."
Supposing for a second that the scout is right, and that Almonte is some sort of 5-tool late bloomer, what are we talking about here?
Kirby Puckett body. Almonte's a short, stocky guy, quite fast, and plays CF. Naturally, a bunch of sabermetricians assure you that he won't play CF in the majors, as they did with Michael Saunders. Maybe it's true with Almonte; I wouldn't know. He played CF for the Rainiers in their 11-10 win on Monday.
Almonte looks kind of like Trayvon Robinson physically; his swing and stats don't.
Strong "hitter's box" swing. Going off YouTube, he seems to have a Jim Thome type of swing in which he revolves his entire body to the ball as a unit, "bludgeoning" it two-handed as if he were swinging a sledgehammer. It seems to give him a natural plate coverage, as Thome had, since he's not "whippy." He just kind of moves himself to the ball ... I dunno what I'm sayin'. His swing isn't long, how's that.
He adjusted to the PCL in a real hurry. All he's doing is "see ball, hit ball" which was Kirby's approach.
Batspeed. Everybody gives Almonte credit for a real quick bat, which is very unusual as it intersects with the paragraph above. But, yeah, that's his calling card -- a Jim Thome type of "hitter's triangle" yet with quickness. I'm intrigued by the convergence of:
- "Chesty" swing, with good zone coverage, and patient approach
- Quick swing
- Scout's gushing
I dunno. It was a bizarre thing to hear on TV, so that's what YouTube had to add to the discussion. It's possible that Almonte is hitting .400 because he's suddenly overmatching the pitchers, as the scout seemed to believe.
I'll believe Almonte when I see him -- hit like Kirby in the AL, that is - but he's off to one whale of a start in the PCL.
He can handle center, runs well, steals bases, controls the zone, has a bit of pop. I'm ready to hand the job over to Jason Bay fir a couple of sessions if he wants it, but Almonte seems ideally suited if that doesn't happen.
He plays CF with good range.
He's a fireplug who routinely steals 30 bags a year but has little power.
He started as a second basemen before his move to the OF.
He gets injured like Chris Snelling.
Scouts seem to love him (might be a Yankees slobbering problem).
That bat will play in CF. It's basically like having Triunfel play there, if Triunfel took twice as many walks and had (reportedly) the best attitude and leadership skills instead of trending the other way.
But I can't bet on a guy who can't stay on the field, even if scouts do love him. How much trouble has Guti caused us? It'd be easier if Guti was making minimum wage like Almonte would, but it's still annoying.
Basically he's a 4th OF who can get on base and swipe bases. I don't mind slotting him in as the 4th OF and seeing if we can get a couple hundred healthy plate appearances out of him as a Chone Figgins or Randy Winn type. Winn another switch-hitting, low-power, high K player, who had a better average than Almonte has had but was also healthier and older. And Figgins looks remarkably like what Almonte has done.
There can be value in that, if you're getting him during the right part of his age arc.
He certainly is opening some eyes in AAA. Let him simmer on the stove there a few months, and see what we have. I'd love to have a Kirby Puckett patrolling our outfield. What fun!
Well, at age 24 he's knocking at the door of .500 SLG. He wouldn't be the first guy to find some power that wasn't there until his mid-20's. If he develops 15-20 homer capability to go with high OBP and some stolen base skills, then you've got an impact outfielder & leadoff hitter. May be asking too much, but it's possible.
4th OF's have value.
I know next to nothing about Almonte, but he has almost NO resume before this year. He's never hit above .288 or had an OBP above .372. Both came in his 18-yr. old Rookie League season. As a 19 year old in A ball he hit 8 homers, he's never been above.
He hits triples, and can run. If his glve can play CF, then he seems like a natural to get an OF shot with the M's.
I'm interested in watchinghim, based on that lack of resume AND the + scouting reports. Interesting combo.