Almonte Putting In The Work

After only playing 15 games in 2010 because of season-ending shoulder surgery on his right labrum, outfielder Abraham Almonte came back with an enormous 2011 season for Tampa, posting a career-high in hits (144), turning in a 34-game hitting streak, and reaching base safely in 36 consecutive games to finish the year.

Now Almonte, who is hitting .272 with 31 hits, three home runs, and nine RBIs in 27 games so far with Trenton in 2012, is proving to people why he's a legitimate prospect.

Almonte has been a trusted leadoff man for a lineup that ranks fourth in the Eastern League in runs with 130, and leads the team in runs (19) and stolen bases (10) after stealing 30 with Tampa last season.

And although he is only batting .272 still early in the season, he seems to be making the tough adjustment to Double-A quite well.

"He's done a real good job for us. Abe seems really comfortable both offensively and defensively and he looks good on the base paths as well," Thunder hitting coach Tommy Slater said. "I know he had to deal with the injury last year that kept him from getting here as soon as he wanted to, but he's looked good adjusting to Double-A."

"I'm feeling good so far," Almonte said. "I played with a lot of same guys in Charleston and Tampa so I've known them for awhile."

The switch-hitting 22-year-old Dominican Republic native spent a portion of the winter playing in the Dominican Winter League with players such as veteran Fernando Tatis, and outfielders Julio Borbon of the Rangers, and Fernando Martinez of the Mets.

Carrying the momentum he was riding at the end of the 2011, Almonte arrived at Spring Training ready to work with Slater for his first season in Double-A.

"Spring Training went well for me," Almonte said. "I was able to get a lot of good at-bats in and worked hard, and I'm starting to see the results."

"Abe's got a really solid approach at the plate and gets into a good strong balance position to hit. He spent some time with the big league club and did well in the split-squad games. He's a mature, intelligent hitter and works hard everyday to stick to his game plan," Slater said.

Slater also pointed out that pitch selection is an area Almonte has focused on improving in coming into this season, and it's a part of his game he is still making a priority as the season goes on.

"He's doing a great job with his pitch selection, and that's critically important, particularly for a leadoff guy. The last couple weeks it's improved a lot; it's something he's working hard at and he understands it's important," Slater said.

"That might be the biggest thing for him right now — continuing to look to get his pitch and be discipline at the plate."

"Every at-bat I'm looking for that one pitch I can drive and every time I'm looking to make good contact," Almonte said. "It's getting better."

According to Slater, Almonte prepares extensively, saying, "He goes into the game with a good plan to attack versus that day's pitcher, and spends a lot of time in the cages getting extra reps."

"He likes to talk hitting and he works at it. The work you do with hitters is constant; you do it everyday, and just talking and communicating with him about hitting has been great," Slater said.

"Abe's a great communicator and an intelligent kid who comes to me everyday with questions, you know. He'll say ‘hey Slate, what do you think about this?' and we'll work on different things every day."

Although he does lead the Thunder in a few offensive categories, much of Almonte's upside goes beyond his numbers.

On Wednesday, in the third game of Trenton's four-game series at Portland, Almonte displayed his arm strength when he threw out Portland first baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez at the plate from right field after catching a line drive off the bat of second baseman Ryan Dent to end the fifth.

With Trenton ahead 4-3 and Dent on second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Portland third baseman Kolbrin Vitek hit a sharp ground ball base hit to right and Almonte threw out Dent at the plate to end the game — his second outfield assist of the day, and a sign his shoulder isn't effecting him anymore.

"After I came back last year and in Spring Training this year, I felt like I had a new shoulder. It's feeling great," he said.

Along with above-average arm strength, Almonte can also play all three outfield positions. That, combined with his speed, switch-hitting ability, and work ethic toward becoming a better hitter, only adds more upside to his potential.

Right now, like many prospects, Almonte says he is focusing on staying consistent and coming to the ballpark ready to work hard everyday.

When asked if Almonte's a guy who could move up in the organization quickly, Slater said, "Absolutely. He's a guy that has a lot of tools and is a joy to work with because of his attitude and communication. He knows what he wants to do out there, and working with a player like that is fun."

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\r\n \r\n\r\nNow Almonte, who is hitting .272 with 31 hits, three home runs, and nine RBIs in 27 games so far with Trenton in 2012, is proving to people why he's a legitimate prospect.
\r\n
\r\nAlmonte has been a trusted leadoff man for a lineup that ranks fourth in the Eastern League in runs with 130, and leads the team in runs (19) and stolen bases (10) after stealing 30 with Tampa last season.
\r\n
\r\nAnd although he is only batting .272 still early in the season, he seems to be making the tough adjustment to Double-A quite well.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's done a real good job for us. Abe seems really comfortable both offensively and defensively and he looks good on the base paths as well,\" Thunder hitting coach Tommy Slater said. \"I know he had to deal with the injury last year that kept him from getting here as soon as he wanted to, but he's looked good adjusting to Double-A.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm feeling good so far,\" Almonte said. \"I played with a lot of same guys in Charleston and Tampa so I've known them for awhile.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe switch-hitting 22-year-old Dominican Republic native spent a portion of the winter playing in the Dominican Winter League with players such as veteran Fernando Tatis, and outfielders Julio Borbon of the Rangers, and Fernando Martinez of the Mets.
\r\n
\r\nCarrying the momentum he was riding at the end of the 2011, Almonte arrived at Spring Training ready to work with Slater for his first season in Double-A.
\r\n
\r\n\"Spring Training went well for me,\" Almonte said. \"I was able to get a lot of good at-bats in and worked hard, and I'm starting to see the results.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Abe's got a really solid approach at the plate and gets into a good strong balance position to hit. He spent some time with the big league club and did well in the split-squad games. He's a mature, intelligent hitter and works hard everyday to stick to his game plan,\" Slater said.
\r\n
\r\nSlater also pointed out that pitch selection is an area Almonte has focused on improving in coming into this season, and it's a part of his game he is still making a priority as the season goes on.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's doing a great job with his pitch selection, and that's critically important, particularly for a leadoff guy. The last couple weeks it's improved a lot; it's something he's working hard at and he understands it's important,\" Slater said.
\r\n
\r\n\"That might be the biggest thing for him right now — continuing to look to get his pitch and be discipline at the plate.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Every at-bat I'm looking for that one pitch I can drive and every time I'm looking to make good contact,\" Almonte said. \"It's getting better.\"
\r\n
\r\nAccording to Slater, Almonte prepares extensively, saying, \"He goes into the game with a good plan to attack versus that day's pitcher, and spends a lot of time in the cages getting extra reps.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"He likes to talk hitting and he works at it. The work you do with hitters is constant; you do it everyday, and just talking and communicating with him about hitting has been great,\" Slater said.
\r\n
\r\n\"Abe's a great communicator and an intelligent kid who comes to me everyday with questions, you know. He'll say ‘hey Slate, what do you think about this?' and we'll work on different things every day.\"
\r\n
\r\nAlthough he does lead the Thunder in a few offensive categories, much of Almonte's upside goes beyond his numbers.
\r\n
\r\nOn Wednesday, in the third game of Trenton's four-game series at Portland, Almonte displayed his arm strength when he threw out Portland first baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez at the plate from right field after catching a line drive off the bat of second baseman Ryan Dent to end the fifth.
\r\n
\r\nWith Trenton ahead 4-3 and Dent on second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Portland third baseman Kolbrin Vitek hit a sharp ground ball base hit to right and Almonte threw out Dent at the plate to end the game — his second outfield assist of the day, and a sign his shoulder isn't effecting him anymore.
\r\n
\r\n\"After I came back last year and in Spring Training this year, I felt like I had a new shoulder. It's feeling great,\" he said.
\r\n
\r\nAlong with above-average arm strength, Almonte can also play all three outfield positions. That, combined with his speed, switch-hitting ability, and work ethic toward becoming a better hitter, only adds more upside to his potential.
\r\n
\r\nRight now, like many prospects, Almonte says he is focusing on staying consistent and coming to the ballpark ready to work hard everyday.
\r\n
\r\nWhen asked if Almonte's a guy who could move up in the organization quickly, Slater said, \"Absolutely. He's a guy that has a lot of tools and is a joy to work with because of his attitude and communication. He knows what he wants to do out there, and working with a player like that is fun.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

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