Jun 22, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Zoilo Almonte (45) singles to center allowing two runners to score during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Zoilomania!


Isn’t it great when the New York Yankees – or any other team for that matter – call up a young player, and right from the get-go, they capture the attention of fans? Young players bring excitement, and can really help revitalize a team in need. Their youthful energy is an invaluable quality to any team, and right now, nobody is more exciting to watch in the Bronx than Zoilo Almonte.

(By gosh, King! Zoilomania is here!) Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Almonte was never really a notable prospect. For a few years, he laid low in the Yankees system, quietly putting up numbers that showed his worth. I remember when I went to a Trenton Thunder game a few years ago, the nice security guard I had befriended was raving about Almonte all throughout the game. The security guard was obviously excited about him for a reason, so since then, I have been tracking Almonte’s progress throughout the minors. Let me say that I am very happy that the Yankees finally called him up.

After a decent Spring Training, the Yankees decided that Almonte was not a player that they needed at the start of the season, so they had him begin with Triple-A Scranton Wilkes/Barre. In the early-going, Almonte struggled, racking up a lot of strikeouts and really not looking like a player who would ever get a true shot in the Bronx. His early struggles turned around though, and he ended up with a .297 batting average, six home runs, and 36 RBI in 68 games for the Railriders.

Naturally, when the Yankees needed someone to go to, he was at the top of their list.

Now it has been no secret, Vernon Wells has cooled off significantly from his hot April start. Since the middle of May, really, Wells has looked more like the player we saw when he was with the Los Angeles Angels, and not the Toronto Blue Jays incarnation that we thought we had. With his struggles really hurting the offensively-weakened team, Joe Girardi decided to start Almonte in his place a few nights ago, hoping that he would give the Yankees a much-needed boost.

It worked.

In his first game as a starter, Almonte went 3-4 with his first big-league home run. Girardi decided to ride the hot hand and start Almonte again for yesterday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. With the Yankees down in the third inning, they got the bases loaded for Almonte. This was Almonte’s chance to prove his worth. He fell behind in the count, but on a 1-2 pitch, lined a base hit into center field, scoring two and giving the Yankees the lead. He would follow this with a few more hits on the day.

Nobody knows just how long Zoilo will be able to continue his hot start, but for now, it’s nice to see a young player rejuvenate the rest of team and excite the fans. Needless to say, Zoilomania has come to the Bronx.

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