As he has moved up the ladder, Almonte has often taken some time to adjust to the next level, but he continually shows flashes of his potential. In 2010, the outfielder began the season with the Charleston RiverDogs where he hit .274/.355/.440 in 58 games. His performance earned him SAL Mid-Season All-Star honors and a promotion to the Yankees’ High-A affiliate in Tampa, where he put up decent numbers but seemed to be missing some of his power.
Almonte started 2011 back in Tampa, where he seemed to make the adjustment and hit .293/.368/.514 in seventy games. Not only did his power numbers return, but Almonte showed good patience at the plate, working 31 walks and driving in a career best 54 RBIs before heading up to Trenton. Once again, Almonte’s numbers dipped when he arrived in Trenton, but if his trend continues he should bounce back when the season starts.
While the young outfielder shows great potential on both sides of the field, he is prone to inconsistencies, often taking some time to adjust to each new level as he works his way through the Minors. Almonte has above average power to all fields and hits particularly hard to the pull side when hitting lefty. He has great plate discipline, but this is one of the spots where he can be particularly inconsistent. Interestingly, Almonte tends to focus well in high-pressure situations; his inconsistencies show through earlier in games or when the bases are empty. Prone to mistakes on the basepaths in the past, Almonte seems to have learned a few things, stealing 18 bases this past season. Should he continue to become a smarter runner he could turn into a huge offensive threat when he reaches the majors.
On defense, Almonte has some good natural defensive abilities in the outfield. He is the type of player, however, who can make the tough plays look easy and the easy plays look tough. His strong arm and his range make him an above average defensive corner outfielder and someone who can fill in at centerfield when needed.
At this point, Almonte’s floor seems to be as a Major League reserve outfielder. If he can work on his consistency he will likely find himself as an everyday corner outfielder, perhaps even with some All-Star potential. His switch-hitting, power and natural defensive ability give Almonte a bright future. He will likely start 2012 in Trenton and – assuming he shows the ability to adjust – Almonte will end the season in Scranton (or wherever it is the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate plays this year). This should set him up for a shot at taking over for Swisher in 2013.