|Seattle Mariners – No. 36|
June 27, 1989 |
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
|Bats: Switch||Throws: Right|
|August 30, 2013 for the Seattle Mariners|
(through May 5, 2014)
|Runs batted in||17|
The New York Yankees signed Almonte as a free agent. Before the 2013 season, the Yankees traded Almonte to the Seattle Mariners for Shawn Kelley. He was called up to the Major Leagues on August 30, 2013. After beginning the 2014 season as the starting center fielder, struggles at the plate prompted the Mariners to option Almonte to their AAA affiliate, the Tacoma Rainers, on May 5, 2014.
Other than the fact that Almonte was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the rest of his early life is relatively unknown. When he was 16, his professional career began with the New York Yankees, as they signed him and brought him to the United States to play baseball.
New York Yankees (2005-2013)
After being signed in 2005, was designated to play in the Dominican Summer League for the Yankees. Almonte started his professional career as a second baseman, but was transitioned to outfield due to his speed and the organization's need for young outfielders. In 63 DSL games, he batted .254 with 26 RBI's, 8 home runs, and boasted a .409 OBP, .450 SLG, and .859 OPS. The following season in 2007, Almonte was upgraded to the Yankees Gulf Coast League team, where he excelled with a .288 batting average in 49 games. Over the next two seasons (2008-2009), played for Single-A Charleston. Excelled at the plate in 2009, batting .288 with 56 RBI's in 115 games. In 2010, shortly after being upgraded to Advanced A-Tampa, played only 15 games before undergoing surgery to repair a torn right labrum. Came back healthy in 2011 for the Tampa Yankees, and reached a 34-game hit streak midseason. Almonte's performance earned the call up to Double-A in 2012, joining the Trenton Thunder. In 78 games, batted .276 with 4 home runs and 25 RBI's. Almonte was traded to the Seattle Mariners on Feb. 13, 2013, for recently optioned relief pitcher Shawn Kelley.
Seattle Mariners (2013-present)
Once becoming a Mariner, Almonte was first sent to AA-Jackson to join the Generals of the Southern League. While there, hit .255 with 18 RBI's and 4 home runs in 29 games before impressing the organization enough to be called up to AAA-Tacoma. Almonte spent the majority of the 2013 campaign with the Tacoma Rainers, playing in 94 games and batting .314 with 50 RBI's, 11 home runs, and a. 403 OBP, .491 SLG and an .894 OPS. These numbers were good enough to give Almonte a shot at the MLB level, as he was called up on August 30, 2013 and made his debut for the Seattle Mariners against the Astros on the road in Houston, Texas.
Almonte impressed new manager Lloyd McClendon in spring training, and began the regular season as the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter for the Mariners. McClendon compared Almonte to Ron Leflore, an outfielder for the Detroit Tigers, Montreal Expos and Chicago White Sox in the 1970s and 1980s who was widely considered to be an energy player. Leflore slapped 16 homers and 30 doubles one season, and had 97 stolen bases in another. “He was a very powerful runner, good power to all fields, a slashing kind of guy that could create runs, produce runs.“I think (Almonte) is going to be that type of guy,” Mariners skipper Lloyd McClendon said.
As part of the festivities on Opening Day at Safeco Field the ceremonial first run around the bases featured 10-year old Avinash Day of Tacoma. Day was diagnosed with familial polyposis, a life threatening medical condition. The young boy acknowledged that Abraham Almonte was his favorite player, so as he came across home plate, he was greeted by not only his idol (Almonte) but also Mariners stars Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez.
Almonte played in 27 games early in the 2014 campaign, and struggled to produce at the major league level, only batting a mere .198 with 8 RBI's, 40 strikeouts and a .248 OBP and .292 SLG. To halt the skid and rejuvenate the Mariners lineup, Almonte was optioned to AAA-Tacoma on May 5, 2014 to work on his game at the plate, and get his confidence back at a lower level of competition. Advanced statistics in baseball are vast, and can help pin down where a player is struggling. For Almonte, these numbers have shown that his 39.5 percent swing rate is considerably below the MLB average. On the occasions that he did swing, putting the ball in play didn't come easily. A 35.4 percent strikeout rate also raised a red flag for the Mariners brass, which contributed to being sent down.
Alcohol abuse and sobriety
In 2007 after the passing of his father, Almonte began drinking alcohol on a daily basis to cope with his grief. As a teenager living in New York, Almonte would regularly go out to clubs on weekdays and drink all night prior to his training the next day. His alcohol addiction remained somewhat harmless until 2010. During the start of the Yankees' 2010 Campaign, Almonte was the team's starting second baseman for his minor league club. 15 games into the season Almonte tore his labrum in his right shoulder which would require surgery. With more time away from baseball than ever before, Almonte found more time to drink, which he would do even more frequently. The addiction became something that Almonte was aware of and wanted to put an end to, but the cravings were too strong and he didn't know how to stop them.
It wasn't until 2011 that Almonte was able to address and overcome his addiction. He credits the power of God as the thing that was able to make him realize alcohol was ruining his life. Almonte started regularly attending church and was able to make more time for family and friends. After only a month of sobriety, Almonte lost 30 pounds and rejuvenated his baseball career.
Almonte has openly claimed that his faith holds the key to his success. "God has something bigger," Almonte said in an interview with The News Tribune. "He is going to keep using me up here in the big leagues. No matter where they send me – big leagues, minor leagues, home, wherever they send me – I know I’m going to do whatever God wants me to do. Baseball or no baseball, if I do it to glorify God’s name, I think I’ll be OK.”
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)