October 25, 2016
The Toronto Blue Jays are looking for continual growth out of outfielder Josh Almonte this winter by assigning him to their Australian Baseball League affiliate, the Canberra Cavalry.
This off-season assignment will be the second consectutive one for Almonte, as the prospect spent last winter as a member of the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Winter League.
Seeing some direct advantages to playing during the off-season, Almonte discusses what his experience in the Dominican did for him in terms of development for 2016.
“Playing during the winter gives you more experience,” stated Almonte. “It was definitely a good time playing in the Dominican and to me that’s how you get better.”
Almonte unfortunately didn’t get to see any game action last winter, but the experience of playing with higher level minor leaguers, and some major leaguers gave him a better understanding on how to put up better numbers in affiliate ball.
Seeing action in the ABL won’t be an issue for the up-and-coming outfielder as Canberra will be able to juggle Almonte in-and-out of the lineup as needed. This experience will be an excellent opportunity for the prospect to gain valuable knowledge and insight of how he measures up against players that have double-A and triple-A service time.
His time in the ABL will hopefully help the 22-year old outfielder find some more consistency at the plate. Only batting .199 with a .245 OBP in 306 at-bats between Lansing and Dunedin wasn’t ideal for the toolsy prospect.
While Almonte struggled hitting at times during 2016; the young outfielder utilized his ability to bunt for hits more to help him avoid long slumps at the plate.
“I knew bunting would always be a part of my game entering pro ball,” explained Almonte. “Over the years it was just about getting better at it. I think I’m at a point where I’m really comfortable bunting, whether I’m struggling, or I feel it’s a good time to lay a bunt down, I’m confident I’ll be able to get that bunt down.”
Despite some offensive struggles last season; Almonte continued to show tremendous promise in the outfield. Known primarily for his arm strength, the prospect had no issue showcasing his talents in 2016.
Displaying his skills well during his 763 innings in the field; Almonte picked up 10 outfield assists, and took part in three double plays, on his way to carrying a respectable .965 fielding percentage.
Extremely proud of his defensive skills, Almonte admits that’s an area he has always focused on in the game.
“I take a lot of pride in my defensive ability,” said Almonte. “Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always pushed myself defensively. I don’t know why, it’s just something that came very natural to me.”
Hopefully the fans down under will get to see the best of Almonte’s skills this winter as he’ll be looking to sharpen all of his tools for next season.
Blue Jays supporters hope that Josh Almonte can represent the organization well in the ABL and the experience will translate back to affiliate ball next spring.