The Cincinnati Reds signed Ariel Almonte back in January of 2021 out of the Dominican Republic as an international free agent at the age of 17. He signed for $1,900,000 and was the highest paid signee in the Reds group that season along with outfielder Malvin Valdez.

At the time of the signing, Almonte had two standout tools – arm strength and power. He was listed at 6′ 4″ and 190 lbs at the time. He’s currently listed at 6′ 3″ and 219 lbs. Seeing recent video of him, even that seems a little bit on the low side.

Last night he had the night off. Or at least for a little bit. He was called off of the bench in the bottom of the 8th inning with a runner on base in a 0-0 ballgame. A few pitches later he crushed a go-ahead 2-run homer to give Daytona the lead. The Tortugas would complete the shutout 10 minutes later.

The home run was Almonte’s 5th of the season. That leads the Florida State League. No one else in the league has four home runs. As you may or may not know – the Florida State League is the most pitcher friendly league in the minors. The league has big ballparks and the weather doesn’t exactly help all of the time, either, and it’s well known that it suppresses power output.

This year is the second tour of the league for Ariel Almonte. He played in 97 games last season with the Tortugas and struggled. He hit .203/.298/.299 with just five home runs, 42 walks, and 133 strikeouts in 97 games/383 plate appearances. That’s a whole lot of strikeouts and not much power at all.

But in 2024 two things have been very different for Almonte. The power has been playing in a big, big way. He’s already matched his home run total from last season in just 62 plate appearances. And his walk rate, which was already above-average, has nearly doubled. He’s hitting .220/.371/.560 at this point in the season.

He’s still striking out a ton. In 2023 he had a 35% strikeout rate. This season it’s at 37%. That is going to have to come down as he continues to develop. It’s simply too high of a rate to make work in the long run. But the improved walk rate may indicate that he is seeing the ball a bit better and figuring out certain things when it comes to identifying the zone better or at least some pitches better. And the results when it comes to contact are certainly working better right now, too.

Nick Northcut’s hot start

When the 2024 season began the Reds placed Nick Northcut on the development list in Double-A Chattanooga. That essentially means he can be with the club and travel with them, practice, and all of that kind of stuff, but that he’s not on the active roster and isn’t eligible to play in games. He remained there until this past weekend when he was activated. And he’s taken full advantage of his playing time since.

In his first game he went 1-5 with a home run. Two days later he got another start and went 1-3 with a walk and a double. The next day he went 2-3 with a double. And then last night he just kept on going, picking up a double and another home run in his four at-bats.

Four games played, three doubles, two home runs, a walk, and four runs batted in. That’s good for a .400/.438/1.000 line so far.

Some fun housekeeping notes

  • Rece Hinds hit a ball 115.1 MPH last night for Louisville for a lineout. He also had a triple that he hit at 112.2 MPH in the game.
  • Ricardo Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 10 games for Daytona on Thursday night.
  • Daytona pitchers Adam Serwinowski, Anyer Laureano, and Nestor Lorant worked together for a shutout last night. This season the three have combined for 41.1 innings pitched, 21 hits allowed, two earned runs, 12 walks, and have 56 strikeouts. I’ll have more on this trio soon.

13 Responses

  1. DW

    Yeah Ariel is a big boy. Seems like a lot of potential there. Great to see the success of those pitchers too. Also glad to see Hinds heating up a bit. He seems to start cold and then heat up every season.

    • Optimist

      Oh yeah – 1st I’ve seen a closer up video of him. Sure seems like he’s built for 1b – wonder if that is in the plans. Would certainly waste the arm, but have to think his speed won’t last. Still, RF if paired with a decent defensive CFer always works.

    • Mauired

      Almonte size, stats, and position make me think younger Will Benson

    • DaveCT

      That was Yerlin Confidan that Almonte drove in with his HR. Confidan is listed as 6’4′ 170 or so. Almonte made him look like he’s small. Young man does have that RF arm, too. He blistered a throw from RF to nail someone at 3B a week ago.

  2. MBS

    That trio in Daytona has been fun to follow. They’ve taken a bit of the sting away from the poor starts by our near MLB level guys like Phillips, Richardson, and Petty. Hopefully that trio also gets going.

  3. The Duke

    I know they are limiting Serwinowski’s innings and being real careful with how they bring him along, but he got through those 4 IP last night in only 43 pitches (31 strikes). Why not let him go out for that 5th inning, keep him under the 65 pitches they have been limiting him to, and see if he can’t go out and get a win?

    Serwinowski’s early success, and the fact that we ponied up for Schoenwetter for near 1st rd money in the 4th has me looking in the 30-80 range in this upcoming draft for tall projectable athletic HS pitchers that could follow the trend.

    • MBS

      They did that with Petty all last season. 4IP was his max no matter the pitch count. I don’t know if that’s a good idea or not, but that was their plan for Petty in 2023. It’s a little early to know if they are going to do the same with Serwinowski, but it’s looking like they might.

  4. DaveCT

    Hinds’ 125 mph smash to 3B was as impressive as it sounds. More loud contact coming is hopefully a good sign

  5. PTBNL

    That ain’t 216 lbs.

    BTW: if the Florida State League suppresses hitters, is what Jac Cags is doing at the University of Florida amazing then and should help him shoot up the draft boards (he ain’t got far to go!)?

    • Doug Gray

      Jac doesn’t play in the Florida State League, so no.

      • PTBNL

        But the weather in Florida does not always play so nice some baseball prophet nice spoke.

      • DaveCT

        A wise man once pointed out aluminum bats are mitigating factor in discussion.