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Josh Almonte Piecing it Together

Outfielder Josh Almonte fits the definition of a sleeper prospect to a tee

Josh Almonte Piecing it Together

January 31, 2016

Josh Almonte

Josh Almonte is an outfielder with the Lansing Lugnuts (Kyle Castle)

Every minor league system has sleeper prospects. A player who has the potential to make it to the big leagues, but despite their ability many fans overlook them. The reasons for this vary between players. Some are just late bloomers, while others have been in a system a while, and some were just selected late and fans doubt their future.

Outfielder Josh Almonte fits this concept to a tee. While the prospect isn’t listed on many watch lists, he has all the tools to make it to the highest level if he can piece it all together and find consistency in the minor leagues.

The New York native was a late bloomer in high school. In fact, he didn’t receive a lot of attention from scouts during his senior season at Long Island High School as he was only hitting in the .200s. But a brief stint with the New York Grays, a summer travel team, earned him some serious attention.

Blue Jays scouts liked what they saw that summer. Despite the small sample size they felt Almonte projected well with his 6’3″ frame. With an excellent blend of speed, arm strength, and power they figured the prospect could eventually mature into a five-tool player.

Even though this was a risk at the time the organization felt comfortable using their 22nd round pick of the 2012 draft on Almonte.

“It’s always a great feeling when your dream comes true,” said Almonte. “Being drafted by the Blue Jays was a day I’ll never forget.”

“I was on a subway with a lot of people around me when I found out the news,” Almonte added. “I didn’t want to act crazy with excitement and scare the people on the subway. I contained my excitement the best I could. But I was extremely excited for the opportunity to play professional baseball.”

After some struggles in the Gulf Coast League his first two professional seasons; Almonte jumped on the scene with a breakout 2014 season with the Bluefield Blue Jays. After carrying an impressive .307/.343/.398 slash line it was evident that the prospect was starting to figure it out at the plate.

[Tim Raines] really helped me understand how to utilize my speed.

“I had more confidence in Bluefield,” stated Almonte. “I think it was a mixture of experience and being excited about moving up to a higher level. But I mostly believe my experience played the biggest factor in my production.”

Promoting him to the full season Lansing Lugnuts for his 2015 season was the challenge that Almonte needed. Unfortunately, a couple of injuries and many changes in the roster over the campaign limited his action a bit.

But Almonte performed well when available. Registering 63 hits in his first stint of low-A ball the 22-year-old notched 19 extra base hits, which included: 15 doubles, two triples, and two home runs. The young outfielder carried a .252/.284/.329 slash line.

Improving leaps-and-bounds on the base paths the past two seasons; Almonte successfully stole 28 bases in 34 chances between his time in Bluefield and Lansing. Crediting his advances in this aspect of his game on the mentoring he has received from Blue Jays Roving Outfield/Base Running Coach Tim Raines.

“I think having Tim Raines as a roving coach has helped me a lot on the base paths,” stated Almonte. “Learning from a guy with that much experience in the big leagues and of his status has been a big help. He’s really helped me understand how to utilize my speed.”

His ability to man the outfield is Almonte’s biggest attribute to his team. Appearing in games at right and center during the 2015 season; Almonte carried an impressive .979 fielding percentage, while assisting on 10 and taken part in four double plays.

Almonte was arguably Lansing’s best outfielder all season. With excellent range and a cannon arm in the field runners rarely challenged the prospect last year. Understanding that his defensive ability is his biggest feature to his team, there’s no question that the up-and-coming star takes great pride in his outfield patrolling.

“Even out of high school I feel my defense was one of my best tools,” explained Almonte. “My defensive play is something I have a lot of confidence in. There are times I wish I had the same amount of confidence in every other tool of my game. But I’m always confident when I’m in the outfield.”

Impressed with the progression that Almonte has made over the season Lansing Lugnuts hitting coach Kenny Graham speaks highly of the prospects advancements in the game and his future within the Blue Jays organization.

“Josh Almonte did a great job in Lansing,” stated Graham. “Josh works very hard. He’s in the cage all the time. Josh does a great job at making adjustments. He’s been in our system a couple years and he finally got a chance to play a full season. I think Josh did a great job in every at-bat. He plays tremendously in the outfield. He’s an exciting player to watch.”

Challenging him this off-season the organization added Almonte to their Instructional League roster in the fall. This was a tremendous opportunity for the young outfielder to make up for some lost reps during the 2015 season.

Expect Almonte to enter camp ready to build off the instruction he has received during the 2015 calendar year. Depending how his spring training goes in March the prospect could find himself on either the low-A Lansing Lugnuts again, or with the high-A Dunedin Blue Jays.

Wherever he ends up in April fans of the Toronto Blue Jays will want to keep their eyes on Josh Almonte as he continues to improve every area of his game and inch closer to his dream of playing in the big leagues one day.

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Brian has covered professional baseball for eight seasons for numerous media outlets.
Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford

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