DENVER – It’s Showtime in the Mile High City. On Thursday, the Colorado Rockies recalled right-handed pitching prospect Yency Almonte, who debuted out of the bullpen that same day.
Almonte was the corresponding roster move to the Rockies sending down one of their top hitting prospects Ryan McMahon.
Working out of the bullpen has not been common for the young right-hander, although he did it in the Arizona Fall League where he was named an All-Star in 2017. Against the Mets on Thursday, he came on with two on board and no outs in a three-run game against the heart of the New York order. Wielding a 96 mph heater, he recorded a sacrifice fly then a double play to get out of the eighth inning with little damage.
The double play was the fifth of Colorado’s afternoon and a swing point in the game.
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Almonte, 24, was drafted in the 17th round out of high school by the Los Angeles Angels in 2012. They moved him to the White Sox in a trade for Gordon Beckham and the Rockies acquired him for Tommy Kahnle in November of 2015.
Almonte has emerged as one of the best harder-throwing starters in the Colorado system. He excelled in parts of two seasons with Double-A Hartford. He currently ranks in the top 10 overall in Denver’s system and it could be argued that he is the best young righty yet to make a big league debut in the organization.
MLB Pipeline reads of Almonte as such:
"Drafted as a projectable right-hander who peaked at 92 mph in high school, Almonte has gotten stronger and now deals at 93-98 mph with some sink on his fastball. He can maintain his heat into the late innings and backs it up with a mid-80s slider that stands out more for its velocity than its bite but can be a plus pitch at its best.To make it as a big league starter, Almonte must show more consistency with his slider, his average changeup and his command. His control regressed last year when Triple-A hitters pounded him, so he has to do a better job of trusting his stuff. If he moves to the bullpen, he could just cut loose with his fastball and slider and turn into a late-inning option.Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45"
In nine games — all starts — with Triple-A Albuquerque, he has a 1-4 record with a 6.27 ERA. He has yet to perform well in Triple-A since his call up from Double-A last July, though he had some impressive moments in Spring Training this spring and 12 strikeouts over 10.1 innings of work in the Arizona Fall League.
With Adam Ottavino and Wade Davis down on Thursday, he was a much-needed option to the right-handed side of the bullpen. Given Colorado’s struggles in relief this month — on pace to have one of the worst months of bullpening in the modern era — starters German Marquez and Jon Gray have been made available in relief, though neither has been used yet.
You can watch some of Almonte’s minor league work here.