DENVER—Righthander Yency Almonte thrived in his first season in the Rockies organization, making Colorado’s decision to add him to the 40-man roster rather easy.
“He throws a plus fastball that he runs up to 98 (mph),” farm director Zach Wilson said. “He pitches at 94-95 (mph). And it’s got sink, and it’s sink that he can control. Right now, he’s still working on his command and it’s coming . . . and his competitive nature, his drive and his will to get better is a separator.”
Acquired from the White Sox for reliever Tommy Kahnle in November 2015 and originally drafted by the Angels in the 17th round in 2012, Almonte went 8-9, 3.71 in 22 starts at high Class A Modesto, averaging 2.5 walks and 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
He moved up to Double-A Hartford for five starts and went 3-1, 3.00 with averages of 4.8 walks and 6.6 strikeouts.
Before Almonte’s promotion, pitching coordinator Doug Linton told him the thigh-high fastballs he was getting away with in the California League had to be located at the knees in the Eastern League.
“He embraced it, and when he got to Double-A, he knew he had to do that, and he did do that,” Linton said. “But he can be more consistent doing it.”
The 22-year-old Almonte, who attended high school in Miami, throws an 85-86 mph slider with two-plane depth, a plus pitch when thrown right.
His changeup was an area of emphasis in 2016. He shows an aptitude for it, and Wilson said it should develop into a solid-average pitch.
Linton said that at Modesto, Almonte could rely on his fastball and power slider and “get away with a lot. He showed a little bit of vulnerability when he got moved up to Double-A just because of not having a changeup. Right now it’s just getting the confidence in throwing it, because he’s got two plus pitches.”
• The Rockies, who lost the 11th pick in the 2017 draft by signing free agent Ian Desmond, are now projected to make their first pick at 48th overall. That would be the latest first pick in franchise history. They chose second baseman Jayson Nix at No. 44 overall with their first selection in 2001.
• Taiwanese righthander C.C. Lee, 30, signed a minor league contract. He made 47 appearances for the Indians from 2013-15 and played in Japan last year.
— Jack Etkin is a reporter at the Rocky Mountain News