Sad to say, but one time Little League star Danny Almonte‘s best hope of playing professional baseball might come as a mid-season signing for one of the many independent league clubs whose funny nicknames and offensive promotions dot the sporting landscape. As the New York Daily News’ Julian Garcia explains, Bronx product Almonte is “running out of time.”
Though Almonte has torn up junior college ball with the Western Oklahoma State Pioneers, scouts have shied away from him, partly because he’s no longer the fresh-faced teenager with the golden arm that he was when he played at Monroe High in the Bronx.
“He’s kind of old now,” said one scout. “There are guys in the major leagues who are 22.”
The lefthander whose 70mph Little League fastball was the equivalent of a 92 mph big-league heater is no longer a flamethrower. His fastball has rarely reached the 90s, more often hitting the mid-to-upper 80s. He also throws a curveball and a changeup but doesn’t have the eye-opening “stuff” that scouts are looking for.
One scout who monitors talent in the Southwest said that even though Almonte’s pitching numbers are impressive, most players he competes against are significantly younger than he is – just like the old days. Eight years ago, Almonte was found to be 14 years old – not 12, as he had purported to be – in the Little League World Series, forcing his team to forfeit its victories.
“(He’s) a little bit old for a junior college player so I would say if the right team saw him on the right day, he may have a chance to get drafted. But he’s more of a free-agent sign type guy for most teams,” said the scout. “Obviously with any player, as you get older your window starts to close, but especially a guy like him. At least for me, he’s not really a prospect at this time.”