Thursday, March 22, 2012

Under the Radar: Zoilo Almonte

There are a number of under the radar prospects in the Yankees system, who have real potential to contribute to the Yankees down the road.  In this segment I will profile some of those players. 

The first player I will write about is Zoilo Almonte.  Although he has gotten some press with his impressive spring training, I still believe he is a relative unknown to most Yankees fans. 

Zoilo is a switch hitting outfielder who stands 5' 10" and weighs in at 165 pounds.  He was signed out of the Domincan Republic in July 2005 at age 16 by the Yankees.   

His first professional season was in 2006 in the Dominican Summer League (DSL).  That first year and hit .219 with 6 HRs, 6 doubles, 28 runs, and 36 RBIs in 53 games.  Although the batting average is not what one would like, the power numbers are pretty good. 

He played the 2007 season in the Golf Coast League (GCL).  There he hit .268 with 3 HRs, 11 doubles, 25 runs, and 24 RBIs in 50 games.  This season his average went up but his periferals took a little hit. 

During the 2008 season, Zoilo again played in the GCL.  This season he regressed to hit .239 with 5 HRs, 7 doubles, 24 runs, and 20 RBIs in 57 games.  This was not a good season for Zoilo.  He saw almost all of his numbers decline in the same league he had played in the year before.  Usually playing in the same league two years in a row is a bad sign especially when one doesn't drastically improve in year two.  With Zoilo however, he made it through and got promoted.

The promotion occured to start the 2009 season.  He started in Staten Island (Low A Short Season).  There he put up the best numbers of his career up to this point.  He hit .274 with 7 HRs, 20 doubles, 43 runs, and 39 RBIs in 69 games.  This was a very promising season.  The New York-Penn league where Staten Island plays is not known as a hitters league. Therfore this season was quite impressive for Zoilo.  He was even selected as a mid season All-Star.

Following up the solid 2009 season he was promoted again, this time to Charleston (Low A).  There he only spent a half season, hitting .278 with 10 HRs, 13 doubles, 33 runs, and 35 RBIs in 58 games.  He was also selected to the Mid-Season All-Star game.  After posting these good numbers he was promoted mid-season to the Tampa Yankees (High A).  Finishing out the season he hit .261 with 3 HRs, 10 doubles, 26 runs, and 26 RBIs in 63 games.  The second half of the season in Tampa was not as impressive.  However, still decent numbers for a 20 year old.

Zoilo started the 2011 season back in Tampa.  This time he excelled.  He hit .293 with 12 HRs, 15 doubles, 38 runs, and 54 RBIs in 70 games.  This put Zoilo on the map as a legitimate Yankees prospect. He showed he could hit for average and power, which is very coveted.  He was then promoted to the Trenton Thunder (AA).  There he struggled, hitting .251 with 3 HRs, 11 doubles, 23 run, and 23 RBIs in 46 games.  Following this season MiLB.com named him a Yankees organizational All-Star.  

This spring training, Almonte played with the big league squad.  Up to this point he has hit .333 with 2 doubles, a run, and 4 RBIs.  This caused Pinstipe Alley to do a piece on him being an outfielder of the future. 

Going forward, I would expect Zoilo to go back to Trenton.  Since he had a poor showing last season I would expect the Yankees to want to see him get a few more at bats there to try and prove himself.  If he continues his hot hitting, I could see him being promoted to Triple A (Wherever they are at that point in the season) by midseason.  From there it depends on how he produces.  If he has a great year I would not be surprised if he got a September call up at the end of this season.  If he has a bad year he could stay at AA.  I think best case scenario for Zoilo is to have a great season this year, get that September call up and then fight for a roster spot in spring training next year.  Zoilo is definitely a player to watch over the next few year as a possible replacement at corner outfield.

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