Almonte hails from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. The 20 year-old switch hitter signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2005. After coming back from injured reserve this season, he has contributed greatly to the RiverDogs defense.
Torre Tyson, the manager of the RiverDogs, believes Almonte has become one of the best centerfielders in the South Atlantic League.
"From last season, Almonte didn't have good jumps or didn't take good routes to the ball," he said. "But this year I can honestly say he's a guy I want out there defensively in every game, whether or not he is going to bring any offense to the table."
Offensively, Almonte has hit some rough patches throughout his career, as all hitters do at some point. Almonte knows that hitting is still an area that he needs to improve on to continue moving up in the minor leagues.
"I've seen him make some improvements offensively as far as his bunting game, and his small game has come around a little bit," Tyson added. "I think he has gone through some rough times over his past two years where he is little frustrated.
"He is starting to learn a little about himself and how to get through those tough times right now. He is coming out of a rough spot where he was 4 for 44.
"He has big time potential and it's just a matter of him repeating something that will work for him."
Almonte is currently hitting .230 in 66 games played. In 243 at-bats he has recorded 56 hits, 32 runs, 26 RBI's, 21 walks, and 49 strikeouts. He has also stolen 16 bases.
Almonte is following a path that seems similar to the one travelled by Austin Jackson. Jackson is currently playing centerfield with the Class AAA affiliate in Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre.
He also played two seasons with Charleston before advancing. Jackson was a talented base runner who had 37 stolen bases his first season with Charleston.
Tyson feels that it is difficult to compare Almonte with Jackson at this point. While the potential is there, Tyson feels that Jackson was the type of athlete that comes along only once every ten years.
Tyson feels that it was beneficial for Almonte to return to Charleston for another season.
"He controls the outfield now and I don't even have to look out there, which is a big relief for me. He can read the hitter's swings and he knows where to play them. He has come a long way out there and all we have left is his hitting.
"I mean his base running and stolen bases are outstanding. Every part of his game has developed tremendously. He just has to stay focused on being consistent with his hitting approach."
Hitting Coach Greg Colbrunn is optimistic that Almonte will improve his work at the plate. He has been sidetracked because of injuries, but now he is beginning to show some improvements.
"I think over the next few months he'll go out there and show what he can do with all the hard work he has put in over the past year and a half and just let that speak for itself," Colbrunn explained. "He has improved, especially his right-handed swing has gotten a lot better."
Colbrunn feels the key to Almonte's success lies in just going out there and repeating his actions on a daily basis and being a lot more consistent at the plate. He feels that consistency can be achieved with experience. Almonte will achieve a consistent rhythm with more at-bats.
Speaking through translator Sherman Obando, the first base coach for the RiverDogs, Almonte says that he has matured a lot this year. He knows he has to improve his offensive game and he plans on putting in a lot of hard work to achieve success.
Almonte Still A Work In Progress
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