On 8/30/08, I had the chance to catch the Gnats face off against the Charleston Riverdogs in the closest the Sally League gets to a subway series. The Riverdogs, a Yankees affiliate sported an impressive crop of young talent led by top prospect Jesus Montero who will be featured in a later entry. Two less discussed prospects, Carmen Angelini and Abraham Almonte, take center stage in this piece as both spent the entire season as teenagers in full season baseball.
Carmen Angelini, SS (0-5, 3 K) - Angelini was a 10th round pick in the 2007 draft after slipping due to a strong commitment to Rice University. The Yankees signed him for first round money and promoted him aggressively to the Sally after making only one GCL appearance. On the field, Angelini stood out as a player with a smooth, fluid approach and significant polish. His 0-5 evening certainly was disappointing, but his all around approach and pedigree may lead to a breakout campaign sooner rather than later.
With a .236/.302/.295 line in his first full season, Angelini's power ceiling looks limited. I've seen Derek Jeter comparisons online and was left scratching my head. While I don't see Angelini having a hall of fame type of career, I can see him becoming an everyday major league shortstop with an offensive game similar to Orlando Cabrera.
Abraham Almonte, OF (1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 CS) - Almonte signed with the Yankees in 2005 as an IFA and finished the season with a .228/.303/.359 line with 29 stolen bases while manning center field for Charleston. Only 19, he still has room for improvement, but I was left underwhelmed by his performance. The first comparison to enter my mind was a bulked up Timo Perez which is not particularly exciting.
Almonte can spend another full season in the Sally League and not be old for the level of competition. In his case, it might be a good idea since he did have a few mental breakdowns and lacked the all around polish exhibited by Charleston's other position prospects. To his credit, he was named a mid-season all star before finishing under the Mendoza line during the second half. Maybe he was injured, or just tired, but I saw a player who deserves to repeat the level instead of advancing to the FSL with his more notable teammates.