The Somerset Patriots have signed former Long Island City High School (Queens, N.Y.) baseball standout Josh Almonte for the 2020 Atlantic League season.
The Toronto Blue Jays originally selected Almonte in the 22nd round of the 2012 MLB amateur draft as an outfielder. But the Wesley Chapel, Florida, native has since converted to a pitcher over the last two years of his career while in the Blue Jays system.
Last year, Almonte went 1-2 with one save and 32 strikeouts across 23.2 innings of work in 20 relief appearances for Low-A Vancouver. The 26-year-old hard thrower whiffed 24 batters over 26.0 innings in 21 relief appearances for Rookie-level Bluefield in 2018 in his first season as a hurler.
“We are happy to be joined by right-handed pitcher Josh Almonte,” Somerset Patriots manager Brett Jodie said on SomersetPatriots.com. “Almonte is very interesting because he was drafted by the Blue Jays as a position player but is trying to convert to pitching. He has been working hard the last few years to become an effective pitcher and we are interested in helping him fine-tune his skills.
“Josh is a big strong guy with an electric arm and he is also very athletic,” Jodie continued. “Almonte has loads of potential as a pitcher and we can’t wait to get him in camp and hopefully unlock his ability.”
Almonte batted .230 with nine home runs and 105 RBI in 1174 at-bats in 343 games in his first four minor league campaigns as a position player.
The six-foot-three, 210-pounder laced a .395 batting average and posted a .536 on-base percentage as junior at Long Island City High School.
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— Jerry Del Priore