The Rangers have signed Dominican outfielder Jose Almonte for $1.8 million, according to an announcement from the International Prospect League.
Almonte is a solid prospect with a strong arm and raw power, although several teams had reservations about his performance against live pitching. It’s not completely surprising that Almonte received such a lofty bonus. Baseball America reported in May that he could end up being one of the top-paid players for July 2, with the Rangers the team most often linked to him in recent months.
Here is our scouting report on Almonte from before July 2:
Dominican outfielder Jose Almonte is strong, has good bat speed and a big frame (6-foot-4, 205) with power potential, although he doesn't have the raw power that Micker Zapata, Luis Encarnacion or Lewin Diaz have now. He generates power with a big leg kick, an uppercut righthanded stroke and a swing-for-the-fences approach. His best tool might be his above-average arm. His upright, short-arm throwing motion isn't pretty but it produces strong throws with plenty of carry. He played some third base in the past, which might make him a more intriguing prospect if he could go back there, but he's going to sign as a right fielder and might be too big for third base anyway.
Almonte, 16, has played in both the Dominican Prospect League and the International Prospect League, but several scouts expressed concern about Almonte's game performance and tendency to swing and miss. While some scouts did say they have seen him flash some hitting ability against live pitching, he doesn't have natural hitting rhythm, his long swing isn't fluid and he drags the bat a little bit. His hips fly open early in his swing, which leaves him vulnerable to offspeed pitches. He's a below-average runner and scouts are mixed on his athleticism.
Almonte, who trains with Jaime Ramos, has been the subject of rumors regarding his potential bonus that seem to wildly outstrip his value as a solid but not premium prospect. It's a situation that has some similarities to when Nomar Mazara signed with the Rangers two years ago for $4.95 million. Perhaps some team saw something in him that everyone else missed, although scouts have seen plenty of him.