Earlier in the week, I released my Midseason Top-100 Prospects list, and I think one of the most relatively unknown players to make the list may be Royals' right-handed pitcher Miguel Almonte. During the preseason, Almonte did not make the top prospect lists for Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN, or Minor League Ball, largely due to the fact that he had only logged 27 professional innings in the United States. Now that he's pitching in a full season league, I expect him to appear on all of those lists next offseason, with the only question being how high he will rank.
Weight: 180 lbs.
Arm Slot: Over the top
On 40-man roster: No
DOB: 04/04/1993 (Age-20 season)
Unlike most Dominican prospects, Almonte did not sign as a 16-year-old, instead waiting until he was 17 to ink a deal with the Royals. Because of his (relative) advanced age, Kansas City was able to sign Almonte for just $25,000 in 2010, a mere pittance compared to most big international prospects. He then made his debut in 2011, pitching 11.2 innings in the Domincan Summer League. Last season he again was back in the complex leagues, logging 50.0 innings in the Dominican Summer League and pitching those 27.0 innings for the Royals' Arizona League team to finish out the season. During fall instructional league he created some buzz, showing an easy delivery and a plus fastball, making his full season debut this year a highly anticipated event. Luckily Almonte has been as good as advertised with a 3.05 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 73.2 innings.
The Scouting Report
There are several things I really like about Almonte, starting with his body. His size isn't elite, but he is much longer than his 6'2 frame suggests and it's still a "young" body that may develop a bit more physically. His bread and butter right now is his fastball, a heavy pitch that sits in the low 90's and touches 96. For a 20-year old with limited pitching experience he locates the pitch very well to all parts of the strike zone. Almonte also features a curveball, a somewhat inconsistent pitch for him, and a changeup that's reports range from fringe average to plus, meaning that he at least flashes a quality changeup. With repetition both pitches should improve giving him a quality three-pitch mix. Most importantly, he shows command of both the fastball and the changeup, which is quite rare for pitchers his age.
What's the Future Hold?
Still very young and inexperienced, the Royals won't push Almonte too aggressively. I would bet on him staying in the Sally League for the rest of this season, and then splitting next year between Hi-A and Double-A if he can continue to succeed. Developmentally I love the advanced command, pitchability, and the use of the changeup at his age, but I really think his ultimate role will rest on the breaking ball. Almonte has and will have a plus fastball and it looks like he may have an above-average changeup. So the breaking ball will decide what he is, a range that extends from spot starter, to a quality No. 2. Given his easy arm action and the signs of life the pitch has already shown, I have really high hopes for Almonte. Here's your fair warning, now may be your best shot to acquire him before he's the talk of the town in KC.
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