The Kansas City Royals promoted right-hander Miguel Almonte from Triple-A Omaha to the major league roster this morning. This is a short-term move; he takes the place of Dillon Gee on the roster, with Gee taking some days off for paternity leave.
Although Almonte may not see much action at this point, he is one of the better, if erratic, prospects in the Royals system. Here's a quick profile.
First, the basics from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Miguel Almonte, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 180 DOB: April 4, 1993
2013: Grade C+; 2014: Grade B+; 2015: Grade B
The whole has been less than the sum of the parts for Miguel Almonte the last couple of years. He has plenty of arm strength, working at 90-95 as a starter and hitting 97-98 in relief. His change-up is usually effective and he uses it a lot, but his curveball remains inconsistent and his command comes and goes. He finished 2015 as a reliever and that’s most likely his best role going forward, but he needs more time in Triple-A to iron out the kinks. I have been very optimistic in the past and I still like his upside. Grade B-.
Almonte performed pretty well in spring training, seeing 10 innings of work with the major league team and posting a 10/4 K/BB with a 2.70 ERA. This was enough to get him on the short list for potential recalls but his early outings at Omaha were more difficult: he threw just five total innings in his first two starts due to command troubles, giving up eight runs on three hits and seven walks. He did fan eight.
Since he's pitched in my neck of the woods I've seen Almonte in person several times. When he's right he's quite tough, firing up a mid-90s fastball and mixing it with a good change-up while flashing an effective breaking ball.
When he's wrong he loses the bite on the breaking ball. When that happens, everything goes down hill; he tends to start overthrowing the fastball on days when the breaker isn't reliable, causing his walk rates to rise and all three pitches to play down.
Essentially, Almonte is still learning the difference between throwing and pitching, between throwing simple strikes and commanding location within the strike zone. Although relief work may very well be his ultimate destination, I don't think it is a foregone conclusion just yet. He is still just 23 but since he's been on prospect lists for several years, it is easy to lose patience.
Almonte seems like the type who would be served well by the Earl Weaver strategy of young pitcher deployment, breaking him in as a long reliever but with an eye to still making him a starter eventually. For now, Almonte will fill a roster spot until Gee has fulfilled his family obligations, then will likely return to Omaha for more innings.