One of the more experienced non-roster invitees, Almonte has played 352 games over six seasons in the majors. Most of those were for Cleveland, but he has been quite nomadic, also appearing for Seattle, San Diego and Kansas City, after originally being a Yankees’ prospect. The results haven’t been there though, with an OPS+ of just 71 over the last three years, and overall bWAR of 0.1 in 186 games. However, he is generally seen as been good defensively - though we already have Socrates Brito and Jarrod Dyson, if we want all glove and no bat outfielders.
He’s a recovering alcoholic, having turned to drink after the death of his father, then his addiction was exacerbated by a shoulder injury in 2010 and the resulting time off. He said, “People think they can control it. They think everything is fine. But one day you find out that you’re not. You’re just lying to yourself. For months. For years. Then, when you find out, you have two choices: You change and do better, or you just keep doing it, keep lying to yourself, keep killing yourself.” Almonte changed, giving up the booze - but was suspended for 80 games in February 2016, after testing positive for the steroid Boldenone.
An 80 baseball name, the 26-year-old Venezuelan infielder was a Rays prospect, making his MLB debut for them as a September call-up in 2016. His father, Juan, was a veteran of the game at home, playing 13 seasons for the Cardenales de Lara. He spent 2017 in AAA with the Giants, before signing for Arizona that winter. Last year, he split time between AA Jackson and AAA Reno, hitting an impressive .337 between the two clubs. However, he was very much a “ball in play” guy, with just 30 walks and 56 K’s in 459 plate-appearances, and managed just a single home-run. Those factors kept his OPS for the season down to a less-impressive .798.
He appeared mostly at second- and third-base in 2018, but overall in his career, he has been mainly a shortstop. He is playing in the Venezuelan league for the Cardenales, who reached the finals and beat Caracas to win the domestic title for the first time in eighteen years. Junior enjoyed a good series, highlighted by his performance in Game 3, where he had four hits and drove in five runs, including a grand-slam in the seventh inning. He’ll now play with his team in the 2019 Caribbean Series, which will take place from February 4-10, at the Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City. It was scheduled to be played in Venezuela, but the current situation there has led to it being moved.
Tomlinson has played the past four seasons with the San Francisco Giants, appearing in a total of 273 games, with a line of .265/.331/.332 in that time. He was a bit of a fan favorite after making his debut there in 2015, his dark-rimmed glasses becoming something of a cult icon, earning the nickname of “Clark Kent.” But he wasn’t exactly great, with basically no power. Indeed, each of the last three seasons, Tomlinson’s on-base percentage was higher than his slugging percentage. That’s not easy to do: Gregg Garcia of the Cardinals is the only other major-league player to do that, with 100+ PA in each year. Tomlison has one home-run since 2015. On the plus side, it was off Clayton Kershaw...
Mind you, all of Kelby’s home-runs have been impressive. I’m not certain, but he has to be close to the only player whose first two homers (his only others, bar the Kershaw shot, to date) were a grand-slam and an inside the parker - the latter is shown above. In terms of the 2019 Diamondbacks, it’s likely he’ll be in the mix, along with the likes of Ildemaro Vargas, for the final bench spot as a utility infielder. He was mostly a second-baseman with San Francisco, but also started games at shortstop, third-base and even left-field.
Well, you should already know all about Mr. Young, considering that Mike wrote about him on Monday, and interviewed him later that day. You should skip the rest of this paragraph, and go read those in-depth pieces instead. But if you want the Cliff Notes version... Young was a late (37th-round) pick by the Cardinals in the 2016 draft, but has put up numbers significantly better than that since, batting .281 with an .829 OPS over 289 games. And that doesn’t include his spell in the Arizona Fall League, where Andy hit .301, after being described by our siblings at Viva El Birdos as “a huge breakout story” of 2018.
initially, Young drifted around positions: in his rookie pro season, he started games at second, short, third, left and even in right field. But the focus has been increasingly on second-base, where he started 101 times last season, plus eighteen more in the AFL. It’s probably a stretch to see him making Arizona’s Opening Day roster this year, with a number of more advanced and/or experienced names ahead of him. But if Young continues to perform as well as he did in 2018, he’ll likely be knocking on the door before very much longer.