After spending parts of two seasons between the Dominican Summer League and Arizona Rookie League, Miguel Almonte was deployed to Low-A Lexington this year for his full-season debut.
Though he was both young and inexperienced relative to the competition, the 20-year-old right-hander emerged as one of the top pitchers in the South Atlantic League. Making 25 starts on the year, Almonte posted an impressive 3.10 ERA and 132-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 130.2 innings.
In a recent article on potential trade packages for Jeff Samardzija, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (subscription required) suggested that the Royals could make a strong bid by packing Almonte in a deal with Aaron Crow:
Much of baseball is split on whether Crow can start games, and when I drafted Crow at GM of the Nationals in 2008 (he didn't sign) I was confident he could develop into a good No. 3 or 4 starter; I still believe that.
Indeed, his stuff plays well in the pen and his career stats -- 158 hits in 174 2/3 innings pitched and 174 strikeouts -- are solid. But I believe he’s a potential double-digit winner and could pitch 180-200 innings, if given the opportunity. If he doesn’t start, he’s still an elite set-up man. An All-Star in 2011, the Cubs would control Crow for three more years.
However, the key to the deal could be Almonte, who also has the potential of an eventual No. 3 starter.
At 6’2”, 180 pounds, Almonte has a loose, athletic frame that allows for smooth mechanics and encourages his fast but fluid arm. The right-hander has an aggressive approach and attacks the zone with a projectable four-pitch mix, demonstrating a rare blend of pure stuff and feel for a player of his age.
Almonte’s fastball is a plus offering that works consistently in the 91-95 mph range with above-average life, and it’s conceivable that he’ll add velocity as he adds strength. The changeup is a present plus with plus-plus potential and, in general, is highly advanced for his age; he shows confidence in the pitch against both right- and left-handed hitters, and it already serves as a swing-and-miss offering.
Although he’s young, Almonte has an impressive overall feel for changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance, throwing a curveball that features a nice shape and has average potential, as well as a slider that’s inconsistent but definitely usable.
Almonte's more advanced than his age and experience suggest, and he could start moving quickly next season.
Potential Impact: No. 2/No. 3 starting pitcher
ETA: Late 2015/Early 2016