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Almonte looks ready for big-league opportunity

Yankees could use outfielder's power bat in their own lineup, or as a trade chip
06/10/2014 12:20 PM ET
By Doug Williams

Yankees outfielder Zoilo Almonte greets Robinson Cano when the team met the Mariners in June.(AP)
Zoilo Almonte turns 25 today, and a big time gift is inevitably coming his way.

All professional scouts seem to be reporting nowadays is how little power there is in the minor leagues. It's a game that's changing, and there are significantly more doubles hitters coming up than guys who prefer to jog around the bases.

Well, Zoilo Almonte looks to have some of that power that continues to elude major league teams. The 25-year old Dominican outfielder was signed as an amateur free agent by the Yankees in 2005. Since then, he's had stints at every level in the Yankees minor league system as well as two trips up to the Bronx, both this season and last.

Almonte hit 23 home runs for the AA Trenton Thunder in 2012, and was on his way to a similar season with Scranton in 2013 when he was called up to the show. His power didn't immediately translate in the Bronx, as he hit just one home run in 106 at-bats. But he was solid for the Yanks in the outfield and helped keep them afloat in the month of June, hitting .303.

Almonte went on to have a torrid spring training this year, but he didn't make the roster due to the fact that a guy with over 4,000 professional hits was on the Yankees' bench. The plethora of outfielders in the Bronx kept Almonte in Scranton, where he continued to hit for power. He's mashed eight home runs and driven in 31 RBI in just 39 games. He was briefly called up to the Yankees again, where he struggled in his brief stint. He did, however, hit a home run into the Bleacher Creatures in section 203. A mammoth blast for any hitter.

Now, back to the gift that Almonte should be expecting.

The Yankees are struggling to score runs, especially with the long ball. Ichiro Suzuki is getting a lot of the playing time against righties, mostly because Alfonso Soriano is hitting only .194 against right-handed pitching. Thus, the Yankees find themselves platooning the two, and an outfield of Gardner, Ellsbury and Ichiro against righties certainly leaves some power to be desired.

That's where Almonte comes in. He's the opposite of Soriano, hitting .336 against righties and .152 against lefties in Scranton this year. It's very possible that if the Yankees continue to struggle in the run column, they'll look at Almonte as a possible every-day option in right field because of his power. And, despite his trouble against lefties this season, he is a switch hitter.

But that's not the only way the organization could use Almonte's power bat. With 3/5 of the Yankees rotation on the DL, the Bombers could use Almonte as a significant trade chip to try and package together a deal for a starter. A team like the Cubs, who possess both Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija, could use Almonte on their big league squad right away. If the Yankees were to shop a combination of John Ryan Murphy and Almonte to teams like Chicago, they'd be selling two big league-ready players in their 20's.

So good things are certainly ahead for Zoilo Almonte. Only question now is where they'll happen.

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