After a tedious but informative (for myself at least) look at the top 30 prospects in the Royals system, I found myself very excited about the upside of Miguel Almonte. This is despite the fact that coming into the season Almonte had all of 88 professional innings over the past two years. Almonte has continued to impress coming into the season, making the jump from rookie to A ball seem easy over his first six starts. Almonte has continued to display good control (2.93 BB/9) and the ability to strike out batters (8.51 K/9). His 3.82 ERA and 3.23 FIP are impressive for a young man who turned just 20 years old a month ago.
Almonte’s May 1st performance in which he allowed just one hit and struck out nine over 6 innings netted him a spot on the May 3rd edition of Baseball America’s Hot Sheet. He followed up on that start nicely yesterday, throwing 6.1 innings while allowing only one run and netting seven strike outs. The right handed Almonte is commanding his fastball that can hit 96 on the radar but usually sits at 92-93, and is said to have a plus changeup. He has plenty of time to work on refining his secondary pitches, as he has youth on his side.
There is a lot to like in Almonte. For example, judging by his Hot Sheet photo it seems that the youthful Almonte has decided to try his luck with a mustache. That’s the kind of bold decision I like to see from a promising prospect. On an actual baseball note, he already has two plus pitches and a superb command as he allowed only 13 walks in 77 innings last season. Even though it is somewhat pointless to compare him to a player that has never seen the majors, it does seem like he could be the Royals 2013 version of Yordano Ventura. While they certainly have a different skill set, there is a clear correlation in terms of success+age+level. Speaking of Ventura, the 21 year old righty has decided that the jump to AA is not at all difficult, as he has dominated over his first 30 innings for Northwest Arkansas. Ventura is in the top five in ERA (1.83) and strike-outs (43) in the Texas League. While any long time Royal fan has to be jaded by the lack of success from high profile pitching prospects over the last several years, these two arms just may be a cure for this cynicism.