Almonte Doing It Again

TRENTON, NJ - The events that transpired Tuesday evening are becoming all too familiar for Abraham Almonte. It's the bottom of the first inning in a ballgame between the Thunder and the Flying Squirrels. Almonte, Trenton's leadoff hitter, is up to bat, facing righty pitcher Craig Westcott. Almonte works a five-pitch walk off Westcott. Two pitches later, he gets to second base on a passed ball.

After he reaches third base on a single up the middle by utility man Jose Pirela, Almonte scores on a sacrifice fly courtesy of second baseman David Adams.

In that inning, Almonte showed off some of the skills — namely plate discipline and speed — that have helped him become one of the most complete offensive players in the Eastern League (EAS) this season.

As of Monday, the Dominican Republic native was atop the EAS leader board in an array of statistical categories, batting .284 with 74 hits [EAS rank: 8th], 42 runs [2nd], 31 walks [4th], three triples [9th] and a .360 on-base percent [15th].

Perhaps most impressive of all, the switch-hitter has 27 stolen bases, tops in the Eastern League.

"I've always said, I thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity to do this," Almonte said. "I've been working hard.

"…I think [my speed is] something that's natural because I would really work a lot on my legs in the offseason in the Dominican. But up here, what I do is just normal. I just exercise and really try to get a good jump every time I get on the base."

But a month ago, Almonte's season was not nearly as smooth as his running strides.

After batting .289 [26-90] in April, the outfielder hit just .250 [26-104] in the month of May. Almonte's recent play is what has catapulted him to elite status.

Prior to Tuesday's contest with the Flying Squirrels, the 5-foot-9, 205-pounder was hitting .328 (22-67) with 12 runs, five doubles, two triples, 10 stolen bases and an on-base percent of .408 through 16 games in June.

And after going 1-2 with two more walks in Tuesday's victory, he is also currently on a ten-game hit streak and has five stolen bases in his last four games.

"Red-hot, that's one of my thoughts," Thunder manager Tony Franklin said. "Almonte is playing well."

The 22-year-old Almonte, who as a 16-year-old signed with the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in July 2005, is in his seventh season of minor league ball.

Despite his veteran status, it is just his first year at the Double-A level, which could be part of the reason why Almonte faced growing pains a month ago.

"I don't think it's any one thing you can point to that has allowed him to play well," Franklin said. "I think it's a combination of things. It's his first year here. We are two and half months or so into the season. He's pretty comfortable with it now, and playing like he's comfortable. And that's a good thing. It takes a little time."

Almonte attributes his offensive success to nothing more than having a simple approach at the plate and not worrying about his statistics. In fact, he had no idea that he was in the midst of a nine game hitting streak entering Tuesday nights game — when told about it, he said, "Who, me?"

"I got a pitch that I'm looking for in the count," Almonte said. "If I don't get the pitch, I don't swing it.

"I'm just keep doing what I do everyday. And now, it's going better. Sometimes, you do good things, but don't have a good result. But now, I have a good result."

If Almonte keeps up such "good results" for the next few weeks, he'll be a strong candidate for the July 11 Baseballtown All-Star Classic.

The outfielder is a one-time All-Star. In 2008, he qualified for the South Atlantic League's version of the Midsummer Classic as a member of the Single-A Charleston RiverDogs.

Almonte's multi-faceted skill-set should put him in terrific position to make his second All-Star appearance in 2012, and perhaps, excel in the big leagues some day.

"I think he has a chance to be a very good offensive player at the major league level," Franklin said. "Number one, because of his speed. Speed puts a lot of pressure on the defense. That alone allows him to bunt more.

"He's got power, he's got extra-base power and he can steal a base. All of those tools combined, that makes for a pretty good offensive player."

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\r\n \r\n\r\nAfter he reaches third base on a single up the middle by utility man Jose Pirela, Almonte scores on a sacrifice fly courtesy of second baseman David Adams.
\r\n
\r\nIn that inning, Almonte showed off some of the skills — namely plate discipline and speed — that have helped him become one of the most complete offensive players in the Eastern League (EAS) this season.
\r\n
\r\nAs of Monday, the Dominican Republic native was atop the EAS leader board in an array of statistical categories, batting .284 with 74 hits [EAS rank: 8th], 42 runs [2nd], 31 walks [4th], three triples [9th] and a .360 on-base percent [15th].
\r\n
\r\nPerhaps most impressive of all, the switch-hitter has 27 stolen bases, tops in the Eastern League.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've always said, I thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity to do this,\" Almonte said. \"I've been working hard.
\r\n
\r\n\"…I think [my speed is] something that's natural because I would really work a lot on my legs in the offseason in the Dominican. But up here, what I do is just normal. I just exercise and really try to get a good jump every time I get on the base.\"
\r\n
\r\nBut a month ago, Almonte's season was not nearly as smooth as his running strides.
\r\n
\r\nAfter batting .289 [26-90] in April, the outfielder hit just .250 [26-104] in the month of May. Almonte's recent play is what has catapulted him to elite status.
\r\n
\r\nPrior to Tuesday's contest with the Flying Squirrels, the 5-foot-9, 205-pounder was hitting .328 (22-67) with 12 runs, five doubles, two triples, 10 stolen bases and an on-base percent of .408 through 16 games in June.
\r\n
\r\nAnd after going 1-2 with two more walks in Tuesday's victory, he is also currently on a ten-game hit streak and has five stolen bases in his last four games.
\r\n
\r\n\"Red-hot, that's one of my thoughts,\" Thunder manager Tony Franklin said. \"Almonte is playing well.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe 22-year-old Almonte, who as a 16-year-old signed with the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in July 2005, is in his seventh season of minor league ball.
\r\n
\r\nDespite his veteran status, it is just his first year at the Double-A level, which could be part of the reason why Almonte faced growing pains a month ago.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't think it's any one thing you can point to that has allowed him to play well,\" Franklin said. \"I think it's a combination of things. It's his first year here. We are two and half months or so into the season. He's pretty comfortable with it now, and playing like he's comfortable. And that's a good thing. It takes a little time.\"
\r\n
\r\nAlmonte attributes his offensive success to nothing more than having a simple approach at the plate and not worrying about his statistics. In fact, he had no idea that he was in the midst of a nine game hitting streak entering Tuesday nights game — when told about it, he said, \"Who, me?\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I got a pitch that I'm looking for in the count,\" Almonte said. \"If I don't get the pitch, I don't swing it.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm just keep doing what I do everyday. And now, it's going better. Sometimes, you do good things, but don't have a good result. But now, I have a good result.\"
\r\n
\r\nIf Almonte keeps up such \"good results\" for the next few weeks, he'll be a strong candidate for the July 11 Baseballtown All-Star Classic.
\r\n
\r\nThe outfielder is a one-time All-Star. In 2008, he qualified for the South Atlantic League's version of the Midsummer Classic as a member of the Single-A Charleston RiverDogs.
\r\n
\r\nAlmonte's multi-faceted skill-set should put him in terrific position to make his second All-Star appearance in 2012, and perhaps, excel in the big leagues some day.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think he has a chance to be a very good offensive player at the major league level,\" Franklin said. \"Number one, because of his speed. Speed puts a lot of pressure on the defense. That alone allows him to bunt more.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's got power, he's got extra-base power and he can steal a base. All of those tools combined, that makes for a pretty good offensive player.\"
\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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