In the latest move on the Los Angeles pitching carousel, the Dodgers on Thursday afternoon selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Yency Almonte after optioning Ryan Pepiot back to triple-A Oklahoma City.
The 24-year-old Pepiot made his debut for the Dodgers on Wednesday in the series finale against the Pirates, taking a no-decision after throwing three full scoreless innings with five walks and three punchouts.
The 6-foot-5, 27-year-old Almonte joins the big-league club after making 11 relief appearances for OKC this season and posting an 0-1 record with a 3.52 ERA.
The Dodgers signed Almonte in a flurry of minor league fringe acquisitions when the league was shut down over the winter. The Miami native and former 17th round pick of the Anaheim Angels in 2012 was among those invited by the Dodgers to the big-league side of 2022 spring training.
Almonte made all his MLB appearances for the Colorado Rockies in a stretch from 2018-21, producing a 4-4 record with a 5.30 ERA over 114 appearances. His best year as a big leaguer came in 2020 when he made 24 relief appearances and posted a 2.93 ERA with 23 punchouts and six walks over 27-2/3 innings.
One of his biggest strengths is keeping the ball inside the park. In 2019, he allowed just 0.7 homers per nine innings pitched.
Almonte struggled in 2019 with a 5.56 ERA, but he turned things around in 2020, posting a 4.18 xFIP and 3.74 SIERA, all of which greatly improved from the year before. He was much better at limiting meaningful contact, as he had a better groundball rate in 2020 (56.3%) compared to 2019 (32.1%). Almonte also had a hard-hit rate of 37.0% and an above-average 3.9%-barrel rate.
Almonte’s average fastball velocity dipped to 94.8 mph in 2020, and he became more reliant on his off-speed pitches. Even with the changes in his pitch selection, he saw a slight increase to a 20.4 K%, and his BB% improved from 8.9% in 2019 to 5.3% in 2020. He was used in some late-game situations, converting on one of his three save chances while recording three holds.
Nevertheless, the Rockies decided to designate him for assignment after the 2021 regular season. After clearing waivers and being assigned outright to Triple-A Albuquerque last October, he chose free agency rather than remaining in the Colorado organization.
Almonte primarily uses a four-seam and a slider mixed with an occasional changeup. According to Brooks Baseball, his heater averaged a tad above 95 mph last season.
Should Almonte make an appearance for the Dodgers in Thursday’s opener against the Phillies, he will become the 22nd pitcher the team has used so far this season.