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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Could Almonte hit his way into the picture?

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Feb 24, 2013 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

When Zoilo Almonte first came to the plate on Saturday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was sitting in the stands next to scout and advisor Jim Hendry.

“Jim Hendry was sitting next to me and he was like, ‘I’ve never seen this kid have a bad day yet,’” Cashman said. “Not this spring, but since he’s been with us scouting our system. And he said that right before the home run.”

Almonte had a big day on Saturday — home run, threw out a guy from right field – but it was today’s big news that made him worth immediate attention. Curtis Granderson is going to miss 10 weeks with a broken forearm, and although Cashman said before today’s game that he wouldn’t want a young player in a big league bench role, he wasn’t so sure that a young player couldn’t step into a temporary job as a lineup regular. 

The Yankees minor league system has a handful of upper-level outfield candidates — Ronnier Mustelier, Melky Mesa and Thomas Neal are the ones with Triple-A experience — but there is no clear standout from that group, and since each one comes with questions, why not put Almonte into consideration? He’s a switch hitter who has a spot on the 40-man and hit .277/.322/.487 with 21 homers in Double-A last year.

“We have future everyday right fielder scouting grades on him,” Cashman said. “People want to rate — I don’t think accurately — that we don’t have things knocking on the door, but we do have some. Our biggest depth is down below, but Zoilo Almonte is one of those guys that we have future everyday right fielder scouting grades on. His throw yesterday, his home run to the opposite field, we’ve seen that.”

Is it enough to give Almonte a shot? Cashman didn’t necessarily go that far, but he certainly wasn’t in the mood for ruling anything out after today’s game. There’s no obvious choice, and the Yankees seem willing to look at every possibility.

“There’s going to be guys here who are going to get to play a lot,” Joe Girardi said. “We’ll have to try to figure out what we’re going to do. Is it a situation where it’s a guy who plays every day? Is it a platoon situation? There’s some things we’re going to have to look at.”

Here are a few other comments from Cashman, all coming from a pregame session that seemed far more significant before the Granderson injury.

On having enough time to get Derek Jeter ready for Opening Day
“Twenty days of Derek Jeter in spring training is still better than whatever the alternative we’re going to run out there. … He’s kind of doing everything but we’re not ready to run him out there for game activity. When we do, I think we’ll start him at DH and then expand.”

On the catching competition
“Well, we’ve got two guys (Stewart and Cervelli) out of options and one guy (Romine) with an option. I think the two guys (without options) are winning.”

On choosing a right-handed reserve outfielder
“You wouldn’t want a young buck to be sitting on the bench as a pinch hitter. That’s a different role altogether. That’s an experience that you have to learn. A number of these (young) guys, with their experience at the minor league level, we’re going to give them looks here. But I think going into this, without question, Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz — in theory — have a huge leg up on anybody else because of their major league experience and having to come off the bench.”
* This was said before Granderson’s injury

On the development of Dellin Betances
“(His) physical tools are overwhelming. He’s had a good spring; his bullpens are fantastic. If you’re sitting there scouting him, you’re going to be blown away, but when you’re at the level that (Betances is at) now in pro ball, you start to performance scout. It matters what he does between the lines, not just in major league spring training, but in season. He’s going to be a starter at Triple-A for us. Two years ago he was one of the premier young starters in the game and last year, he took a radical step back because of fastball command. His year last year, was it one of complete failure, or was it just a step back?”

Associated Press photos





42 Responses to “Could Almonte hit his way into the picture?”

  1. FiretheUMPIRE February 24th, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Put Heathcott in CF in MLB for a month. Boy needs to be humbled. Go back down and work.

  2. FiretheUMPIRE February 24th, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Melky did it when he was 20. Is Heathcott not a better prospect?

  3. Nilsson February 24th, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Heathcott has never played above A+ level. Even Harper and Trout had to face AA pitching before getting to the show. Note, I’m not comparing him to those two players.

    We’ll see how the young outfielders perform in Yankee camp. I think the ST games took on more importance, at least for those upper level players.

  4. RMS February 24th, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    No to Soriano. Yes, he has power. But he is a bad outfielder and doesn’t hustle. Just what this team needs, another old, 37, player. When Curtis comes back, is Soriano going to be happy with reduced playing time?
    Cashman has options on this team. Play 1 of the young guys if they do well in ST. He also has some older players who could fill in.

  5. j9d February 24th, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    The team will be fine. Others will shine if they are worthy. That’s what bbuilding a team from within is all about.

  6. ron February 24th, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Harper went from A ball in 2011 at 18 yrs old to the majors in 2012 at 19 yrs old with very few ab,and didn’t do well at all in AA,or AAA.
    He is just a baby,so it can’t hurt to give any of our prospects a chance,especially if they are 21 yrs or older.

    A lot of times these kids will suprise you,and do well,and do better in the majors.
    Kids now are much more mature than years ago.
    They grow up fast,and you just have to give them a shot.

    I just hope cashman does not trade anybody good away for an old soriono.
    Almonte has a very smooth,relaxed swing.

  7. ron February 24th, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    We can put heathcott in AA,then move him quickly to AAA,then to the majors,after a few hundred ab.
    He is 22 yrs old,and can be moved quickly.
    He is a few years older than harper,and trout.

    But he does need to at least face AA pitching,and maybe a few ab in AAA.

    Harper ops’d about .700 in AA,and AAA,and look what he did in the majors.

  8. jacksquat February 24th, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    Harper was a phenom that has been tracked since pretty young, what he did in the minors is pretty irrelevant.

  9. Against All Odds February 24th, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Exactly guys like Harper are once in a generation type talent. You see guys like him coming from a mile away

  10. Duh Innings II February 24th, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Real simple folks:

    LF – Ichiro

    CF – Gardner

    RF – Rivera, Diaz, or Rivera/Diaz platoon

    If the Yanks don’t trade for someone, they MUST go with a veteran or veterans in RF as the regular season isn’t and shouldn’t be extended spring training.

    I don’t wanna hear Heathcott, Almonte, Mustelier, or Mesa who should all further develop in the minors. Mustelier is the only one I’d give a hard look at as he has played big league professional ball albeit in Cuba.

    Rivera will essentially hold down Granderson’s roster spot and Diaz will be the fourth outfielder.

    Granderson posted a .232/.319/.492/.811 slashline.

    All we can do is pray Rivera and Diaz combine to post at least the BA and OBP.

    Let’s say Granderson misses the first two months of the season. If Rivera and Diaz could equal or better Granderson’s 2012 BA and OBP, come as close as possible to his SLG and OPS, and combine for 7 HR and 27 RBI through 5/31, that’s a decent slashline (relative to 2012 Granderson’s slashline) and 21 HR 81 RBI pace, and they held down RF nicely.

    Rivera and Diaz would have to hit a homerun about once every 8 games and drive in a run about every other game. I think they’re capable of it. If they produce 5 HR and 22 RBI (15 HR 66 RBI pace), well, what do you expect for $4M base combined or thereabouts (since I believe Rivera and Diaz would make $2M each if they made the team)?

    Let’s all pull for Rivera and Diaz to put up some fascimile of Granderson. We have to expect a 20-25 HR 70-85 RBI pace type April-May from them and if they do that, that’s fine.

  11. ron February 24th, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    What any player at 18,and 19 do in the minors is irrelevant with so few ab,and phenom,or not, he made it to the majors at 19 yrs old after very few ab in AA,or AAA.
    Also,heathcott,and most other players will never be as good as harper wether it be in the minors,or majors,and we don’t need heathcott,or any other player to be as good as harper,and won’t be,so your comment is irrelevant.

  12. Tar February 24th, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    Rivera and Diaz are terrible in the field…Duh

    But I think the Yankees will pick a veteran, any veteran over a youngster. Hope I’m wrong, sure would like to see a Zoological or Musty or even Mesa get a shot. This is an old veteran team sometimes an infusion of youth is just what the Dr. ordered.

  13. FiretheUMPIRE February 24th, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    I agree. The Yankees never planned to have Cano and Melky in the majors in the years they were called up. The presence of youth can excite fans and send a jolt through an old team. This is an old team. It’s worth trying a wild experiment because it’s just temporary and could pay big and bring some balance.

    Almonte, Heathcott. I want to see one of these guys.

    Maybe you catch lightening in a bottle like Kevin Maas.

  14. Pat M. February 25th, 2013 at 12:55 am

    No matter how you slice this, the Yanks are going to need someone with a glove to close out the games in left. SJ was always high on Almonte and when I asked around about him quite a few baseball guys thought he’d be in the bigs if not for getting banged up so much. As I posted earlier, it’ll be interested if he can sieze this opportunity that is right in front of him… It’d make for good copy back in NYC if Almonte has a good spring and goes north with the club..

  15. Duh Innings II February 25th, 2013 at 1:33 am

    Hey Tar -

    Rivera and Diaz are terrible in the field…duh…but they have a combined 5820 MLB plate appearances (3787 by Rivera + 2033 by Diaz) to 26 MLB PAs for Neal (24 MLB PA), Mesa (2), Almonte (0), Mustellier (0), and Heathcott (0.) Canzler who has 102 MLB PA and 11 games in the OF (LF including one assist) and Jones are no longer Yankees. The Yanks are not trading for Alfonso Soriano and his 2013-14 to hold down LF for a month or so. They’re not gettng Giancarlo Stanton or Matt Holiday. Swisher is an Cleveland Indian now. If Ibanez was still a Yankee he could never play the outfield every day, ditto for Bobby Abreu.

    Career splits for Rivera and Diaz:

    Rivera .268 vs. RHP, .285 vs. LHP

    Diaz .258 vs. RHP, .324 vs. LHP

    So get a clue before you come on here and basically tell me a dude with zero, two, or two-dozen MLB PAs should play every day over Rivera or Diaz when they should not. April and May are not spring training.

    Unless the Yanks sign or trade for an outfielder, it will be Riviaz (Rivera + Diaz), like it or not, grin and bear it, but better yet, let’s hope Rivera can channel his 2004-07 for a month or so.

  16. Rich in NJ February 25th, 2013 at 1:40 am

    10 weeks at this point in time is not that long. This misfortune presents an opportunity for some young guys, and maybe some will seize it. So I am hopeful. It does, however, highlight what a horrendous job the management has done by constructing a paper thin offense. It is inexcusable.

  17. blake February 25th, 2013 at 7:11 am

    You folks that are talking about a Rivera/Diaz platoon realize that they both hit right handed right?

    And both are dreadful vs RHP …. Which means 2/3 of the time you’re gonna have Chris Stewarts offense in LF more or less

  18. blake February 25th, 2013 at 7:16 am

    @pgammo: Too bad we all can’t take a holiday in celebration for Ben Afleck.


  19. MTU February 25th, 2013 at 7:35 am

    If Zoilo’s first name was Zorro he would have no problem hitting his way onto the Yankees.


  20. MTU February 25th, 2013 at 7:43 am

    If the Yankees buy tires they should go w “new” instead of “retreads”.


  21. Yankee Trader February 25th, 2013 at 7:44 am

    Good morning Blake and MTU-

    This is this mornings article from “Should the Yankees pursue Cubs Outfielder Alfonso Soriano?”

    My thoughts: NO!

  22. MTU February 25th, 2013 at 7:45 am


    Let’s be bold. How bout your boy Heathcott for a month ?


  23. MTU February 25th, 2013 at 7:46 am




  24. Yankee Trader February 25th, 2013 at 7:48 am

    “Out of the night
    when the full moon is bright
    comes a horseman known as Zorro. ”

  25. blake February 25th, 2013 at 7:50 am


    Id love to see it but we both know they won’t do that.

    I think if theo will be reasonable on the prospects then the Yanks should get Soriano…..especially if they can structure if so that they pay nothing in 2014

    Soriano replaces most of Granderson’s production short term and he gives them quality depth in the outfield and at DH (where they have nothing if/when Hafner gets hurt)

    Soriano would also give them a useful player for 2014 as well…..makes sense but Theo has to back off wanting top guys for him

  26. MTU February 25th, 2013 at 7:50 am

    If you’re a MiLB player for the Yankees.

    How do you get promoted ?

    You either survive being thrown into a fire, or an attempted drowning.

    See. It’s easy.


  27. MTU February 25th, 2013 at 7:56 am


    I’m not interested. I want to see youth served.

    But yeah. They’ll probably go w a Veteran.

    When the Yankees backs are against the wall that’s their M.O.

    By the way, Almonte is a switch-hitter, and has shown some pop in the Minors.

    Hope he has the kind of Spring that forces the issue.

    That would be a different outcome. One I would like.

  28. MTU February 25th, 2013 at 7:59 am

    How bout an Almonte/Mustelier platoon ?

    Did you happen to see the way Ronnier sliced that ball to the opposite field yesterday.

    I did. Took notice. Looked comfortable in the OF too.

  29. blake February 25th, 2013 at 8:00 am

    “How bout an Almonte/Mustelier platoon ?”

    Woukd love to see it

  30. Yankee Trader February 25th, 2013 at 8:02 am

    I couldn’t find Almonte’s splits for 2012 at Trenton:

    If he hits better from the left side, then I’m in for a platoon of him and Mustelier until Granderson recovers. I was impressed how Mustelier looked in his first at bat yesterday, lining the ball to the opposite field.

  31. Yankee Trader February 25th, 2013 at 8:03 am

    It looks like the 3 of us are on the same page.

  32. MTU February 25th, 2013 at 8:06 am

    And don’t sleep on Adam Warren.

    He is not the chopped liver some think he is IMO. Watch him pitch.

    That’s another example.

    The kid gets one start in the majors and flops and he immediately sucks for life in some people’s eyes.

    Nevermind the obvious talent he shown in the past or his potential.

    If the Yankees wish to develop their talent they are going to give their kids a lot more chances, and show a great deal more patience IMO.

    This sink-or-swim sh*t sucks.

  33. MTU February 25th, 2013 at 8:09 am

    And now Gentleman, if you will excuse me, it is time for the most important meal of the day.

    I shall return (unfortunately for you).


  34. Yankee Trader February 25th, 2013 at 8:12 am

    The Indians have 4 outfielders in Swisher, Bourn, Brantley and Stubbs, unless Swisher is going to be the full time 1st baseman.

    Any other teams with a spare ‘young” outfielder I don’t want Soriano for two years. Don’t need a right handed DH. As many lefties as the team will face, Jeter and others like Youkilis can DH those days while Nunez and Nix take the field.

  35. austinmac February 25th, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Almonte is much better as a left hander. He and Mustelier make the most sense. Please no Rivera or Diaz. It is not 2007 no matter how much Cashman wishes otherwise.

    While some have been replaced, the season will start with players with 150 home runs missing from last year.

    Good thing we don’t need offense at catcher. I have never seen such a change in one year. Can’t wait for next.

  36. randy l. February 25th, 2013 at 8:26 am

    this team was built for no injuries.

    no injuries and it’s good, really good.

    with any injuries, uh oh ,better call maaco .

  37. MTU February 25th, 2013 at 8:27 am

    You guys need to accept the Gospel according to St. Cashman.

    Get w. the program you rabble-rousers, or find a new home.

    We’re watching you.


  38. Yankee Trader February 25th, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Does anyone know the extent of Granderson’s forearm fracture? Did the radius and ulna both fracture?

    If he needs any surgical treatment, plates and screws, then I think 10 weeks is premature.

    From the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:

    “Because of the strong force required to break the radius or ulna in the middle of the bone, it is more common for adults to break both bones during a forearm injury. When only one bone in the forearm is broken, it is typically the ulna — usually as a result of a direct blow to the outside of your arm when you have it raised in self defense.”

    “Bones have a remarkable capacity to heal. Forearm bones typically take 3 to 6 months to fully heal. The more severe your injury, however, the longer your recovery may be.”

    “Nonsurgical treatment. Rehabilitation typically begins after a few weeks of keeping the arm still by using a cast or brace. In many cases, a physical therapist will help with rehabilitation, beginning with gentle exercises to increase range of motion, and gradually adding exercises to strengthen the arm.”

    “Surgical treatment. Depending on the complexity of the fracture and the stability of the repair, a cast or brace may be necessary for 2 to 6 weeks after surgery. Motion exercises for the forearm, elbow, and wrist usually begin shortly after surgery. This early motion is important to prevent stiffness. Your doctor may also prescribe visits to a physical or occupational therapist, depending on how long your arm was immobilized.”

  39. austinmac February 25th, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Now that Cashman has figured out Cervelli has no options Romine has no chance. Great, another year watching Stewart, but this time in a major role. He only had one passed ball yesterday. Progress.

  40. MTU February 25th, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Now that was a good breakfast.

    Forget Y’s delicious pancakes, etc.

    Spicy egg sandwich w. melted cheddar, fresh squeezed apple juice, and a cup of strong coffee.

    I’m gonna live to be a hundred eating like that.


  41. MTU February 25th, 2013 at 8:34 am

    new post —->

  42. Yankee Trader February 25th, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Thanks Austinmac for the report on Almonte. Time for some recruits from the minors to step in and step up.

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