7 Abraham Almonte S/R, 5-9, 200, 22 y/o
2011 stats: Tampa; .268/4/52
2012 forecast: Had he not been injured in 2010, it’s very possible that Almonte would have been on the Thunder last year. Instead, after playing in just 15 games two seasons ago, he played in 131 last season with High-A Tampa. Almonte will provide some much-needed speed for Trenton; he has no fewer than 29 steals in his last three full seasons. He primarily plays in center field.
49 Zoilo Almonte S/R, 6-0, 205, 22 y/o
2011 stats: Trenton; .251/3/23. Tampa; .293/12/54
2012 forecast: This is the Almonte that everyone will be watching. Zoilo Almonte, who mostly played in right field last season, made a big impression in Yankees camp and is considered to be the best position player prospect on the team. If he can put together the kind of season he had with Tampa last season, he could very well be playing in Triple-A by the end of the year. For now, however, he’ll work on mastering Double-A, where he struggled at times last year.
8 Dan Brewer R/R, 5-11, 195, 24 y/o
2011 stats: Scranton; .278/0/9
2012 forecast: Brewer would probably be in Triple-A in most other organizations, but much like Ryan Pope, is forced out because of a numbers game. His fate, however, was better than Austin Krum or DeAngelo mack, both of whom were released earlier this spring. It could be quite tough for him to find playing time with the Almonte’s and Melky Mesa in the fold, however.
44 Cody Johnson L/R, 6-4, 240, 23 y/o
2011 stats: Trenton; .226/15/45. Tampa; .328/6/22
2012 forecast: Johnson can be a difference maker for the Thunder if he truly has changed his approach from last season. The slash line needs to go up, and the strikeouts need to go way, way, way down this season. Not only for the team, but for his future in the organization. Johnson is just 23 years old and is a former first rounder…there’s a reason for the latter. But he’s running out of time to put it all together.
29 Melky Mesa R/R, 6-1, 190, 25 y/o
2011 stats: Trenton; .251/9/46
2012 forecast: Mesa, like Zoilo Almonte, is on the Yankees 40-man roster. But that spot could be tenuous if he has another average year. A toolsy 25-year-old, Mesa battled through injuries and inconsistency to put together a decent first season in Double-A, but really needs to show that he’s progressed in 2012. Mesa’s arm may very well be his biggest attribute, but he’ll need to utilize his bat and his legs more to continue to earn his spot.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com // Twitter: Mashmore98