The New York Yankees have what should be, one of the best outfields in all of baseball heading into the 2014 season. They added two premier free agents in the off-season in Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury. In resigning Brett Gardner, the Yankees brought back their best outfielder from 2013. Alfonso Soriano will be another threat in the middle of the lineup. Although Ichiro Suzuki looks like a shell of his former self, he will a very good, but very expensive fourth outfielder/pinch runner/defensive replacement. These five players will break camp as the outfield/designated hitter rotation. There is one more player that will see significant time in the majors in 2014. His name is Zoilo Almonte.
Almonte had a cup of coffee in the majors last season for the Yankees. He showed a good amount of promise. Although he only hit .236, he had his share of quality at-bats. Almonte is a solid defender with plus speed. He needs some more seasoning in Triple-A and will most likely start the season there, as the Yankees will not carry six outfielders. As I said, this should be one of the best outfields in MLB. There are questions however. Beltran has stayed healthy and productive in the last few seasons. He will however be 37 in April. When will father time catch up to him? The same goes for Ichiro and Soriano. As good as Ellsbury is, he has been injury-prone. A 30-year-old that relies so heavily on his legs is always something to keep an eye on. There is a good chance any of these players could miss some time this season due to injuries.
By no means am I hoping to see Almonte as an everyday player because someone got hurt. With that being said, I feel comfortable that he can contribute to this team at some point this season. He is still just 24-years-old and hit extremely well the last two seasons at Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, respectively. Whether he can continue to improve at the plate, and not become a “Quadruple-A” guy, remains to be seen, but the progress he has made so far is impressive.
Keep an eye on Zoilo Almonte in Scranton this spring, because you may very well be seeing him in the Bronx pretty soon.