Coming into 2013, Zoilo Almonte was sort of considered an afterthought. The Yankees had four outfielders in their farm system (Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott, and Ramon Flores) who were all considered better prospects than Almonte. It wasn't that people thought he was bad or anything, it's just that he was just there while everyone else's attention was focused on the Williams-Austin-Heathcott-Flores quartet instead. However, since being called up two weeks ago, Almonte has turned plenty of heads.
Zoilo earned his promotion from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after hitting .297/.369/.421 with a 118 wRC+ in 293 plate appearances. Though, at the same time, every non-Brett Gardner outfielder was pretty bad and they needed a spark in the worst way. No matter how you look at it, Zoilo has impressed. In his first 46 plate appearances as a Yankee, the 24-year-old switch-hitting outfielder is sporting a .333/.370/.500 line with a 134 wRC+, but is this who he is long-term?
Even though Almonte has flourished so far, it would seem a little foolish to think he can keep this kind of hitting up. Hell, Andrew McCutchen has a career 133 wRC+ and no one on this planet believes, or at least they shouldn't believe, that Almonte is the next Andrew McCutchen. Besides, we have to remember that David Adams started off hot (.295/.311/.500, first 45 PA's) and then fell off a cliff (.095/.197/.095 in his next 72 PA's). David Adams is a harsh reminder that baseball can be such a humbling sport.
Now, it's not entirely out of the question that Almonte can be an average/slightly above average corner outfielder in the Major Leagues. He had success in the minors in the past (120 wRC+ with Trenton in 2012, 145 wRC+ with Tampa in 2011, though he did significantly better when he repeated a level), so it's not like he's coming out of nowhere. Almonte is a pretty solid defender, and if he can provide league-average offensive production the rest of the way, he would easily (excluding the injured Curtis Granderson) be the team's second-best outfielder. Almonte, though highly unlikely to become a superstar, has the potential to be a useful piece for a team carrying some dead weight in the outfield while trying to cut payroll in the process.
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