Name: Jose Almonte
DOB: 9/8/1995 (Age 23)
Acquired: Brad Ziegler Trade, July 2016
Most Notable Tool: Mid 90s Fastball
Season Stats: DNP, Oblique Injury
2018 Season Summary: Almonte had a successful 2017 season, but was unable to build upon it in 2018 when he missed the entire season with an oblique injury. Considering how important that muscle group is for a pitcher, as for example Robbie Ray missed 8 weeks with a Grade 2 strain, it must have been a Grade 3 strain (muscle tear essentially) to keep him out for the entire minor league season. At the minimum it’s a lost year of development, especially in an important year for him as a prospect. In that year lost, he’s been overshadowed by Emilio Vargas, a prospect who finally has put things together, and offseason acquisition Taylor Widener who also had a big breakout.
Tools: Fastball 55/60, Slider 45/55, 40/50 Change-Up, Command 40/50
Almonte’s fastball sits in the low to mid 90s with decent action on it and complements it with his slider to miss bats. He was also working on a change-up to help his chances of sticking in a rotation, although that pitch was a lot of work before it can be a reliable enough offering to get LHH out. Command is still something that needs to be ironed out with 66 walks vs. 162 Ks in 139 innings.
Upside: Even with the lost year of development, the FB/SL combination gives him a floor as a reliever if he can consistently command both. Best case scenario he’s a #3/4 starter if the change-up develops as an out-pitch against LHH. There is a large range of outcomes possible, including a best outcome of mid-rotation starter to likely floor of a middle innings reliever.
Risk: The first major issue is if that oblique injury will have any long term effects from a mechanical standpoint on top of the rust for not having pitched competitively since September 2017. Assuming that’s taken care, the concern then comes to command and developing a 3rd pitch. If the command doesn’t take a step forward, his upside is as a reliever and mostly as a RHH matchup guy.
Likely 2019 Assignment: Almonte is eligible to be snatched in the Rule 5 Draft, although I’d be surprised if a team poaches him given the severe oblique injury. If he stays in the organization, I see the team sending him to Extended Spring Training or Visalia to ensure that he’s healthy and the ball is coming out his hand fine. Once that issue is resolved and a solid run of starts in Visalia, they can challenge him at the AA level.
ETA: 2021 Season