The Kansas City Royals promoted right-handed pitcher Miguel Almonte to the major league roster, replacing injured starter Ian Kennedy, who is out with a hamstring issue. Although he was being used at Triple-A Omaha as a starting pitcher, Almonte will pitch out of the bullpen for now according to the Kansas City Star. Let’s review what Almonte offers.
The Royals signed Almonte as a free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2009. Dominant at times in the low minors, he’s been erratic since reaching Double-A and particularly Triple-A. He reached the majors briefly in 2015 and posted a 6.23 ERA in nine games, then had a poor 2016 season with a 5.92 ERA in Double-A and Triple-A, struggling to adapt to a new bullpen role.
Almonte was rated as a Grade C prospect on the pre-season Kansas City Royals Top 20 prospects list for 2017. Given his strong 2017 so far, the grade, while logical at the time, looks like an over-correction, given that I’ve had him as high as a B+ in the past.
Listed at 6-2, 210, Almonte was born April 4th, 1993. At this best he features a mid-90s fastball, an above-average change-up, and an average breaking ball. He did not show his best stuff for most of 2016, hampered by mechanical difficulties that hurt both his velocity and location, but he’s returned to impressive standards in 2017, posting a 1.85 ERA in 24 innings for Omaha with a 29/5 K/BB. He’s throwing strikes and PCL observers report that he’s maintained his best stuff all spring.
According to the Star, Almonte has fixed his delivery issues.
“I focused on my mechanics and things have been going pretty good,” Almonte said through Royals coach Pedro Grifol, who interpreted the interview.
One noticeable change: Almonte has pitched more from the stretch this season and “feels more comfortable,” he said.
Almonte said he has no preference as a starter or reliever.
“Wherever they put me is fine with me,” Almonte said. “It’s not my decision. I’m going to do the job wherever they put me.”
Given that he’s just 24 years old, it is entirely possible that the changes this year can stick.