General : : Professional
Sunday, May 24, 2009

Denny Almonte is not Danny Almonte

Jim Ecker        
By Jim Ecker
Friday, April 24, 2009

Denny Almonte is not the same guy as Danny Almonte. Let’s get that straight from the start.

Denny Almonte is a promising young outfielder for the Clinton Lumberkings in the Class A Midwest League. Danny Almonte was the infamous 14-year-old ringer in the 2001 Little League World Series, an event that's supposed to be for kids 12-and-under.

Denny Almonte is 20 years old. Danny Almonte is now 22, an outfielder/pitcher for Western Oklahoma State College in Altus, Okla.

So please, Denny Almonte is not Danny Almonte. Definitely not. They're not even related.

“Especially to this day, I still get questions if I’m Danny Amonte,” Denny said Wednesday prior to playing a Midwest League game in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "No, I'm not."

Denny Almonte was 12 years old at the time of the 2001 Little League World Series, which ironically made him the perfect age to play in the tournament. He didn't, however. It wasn't him.

Danny Almonte was 14 and created quite a sensation in that World Series, a 5-foot-8 lefty (at the time) who fanned 62 of the 72 batters he faced with a menacing 76 mph fastball, playing for a team from the Bronx. N.Y., called the Baby Bombers.

An investigation later proved he was 14, causing a huge scandal in Little League circles that attracted international attention. It also created problems for Denny Almonte, an innocent 12-year-old kid who was living in Miami.

“Ever since that, everywhere I went, I had to take my birth certificate to prove who I am,” Denny said. “It caused me trouble coming up. I had to show them proof with my name and where I was born and everything.”

Denny Almonte is hitting .295 for the Clinton Lumberkings. He's a switch-hitter with good speed and pop. "I think he's ahead of the curve," said Scott Steinmann, his manager at Clinton. "I think he's going to be one of our maintstays in the lineup and produce quite a bit for us."

Danny Almonte is currently a sophomore at Western Oklahoma State College, which is a Division II junior college. He's hitting .500 with 12 homers and 55 RBIs for the Pioneers, who were 39-10 at last report and ranked 13th in the country. He also has a 6-0 record on the mound with a 4.89 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 38.2 innings.

Denny Almonte has met Danny Almonte. And as unbelievable as it may seem, there were teammates on the Florida Bombers all-star baseball team a few years ago. And yes, that was confusing.

"It was a surprise," Denny said. "People finally figured out who was who."

There were games when both Almontes were in the outfield for the Florida Bombers, and both hit from the left side of the plate if there was a righty on the mound (remember, Denny is a switch-hitter).

They got to be friends.

"Actually, we did, "Denny said. "We started talking about each other's stories and what I had to go through."

In return, Danny told Denny his story about the 2001 Little League World Series.

"He says it really wasn't his fault," Denny related. "He just wanted to play the game. His dream was to play the game and try to showcase himself as a young player. Supposedly at that age, he didn't know what he was doing. He said his parents always told him he was 12, and to say that's his age. And from there on, he just continued with that and he just went out and played. That's what he wanted to do.

"He's a real nice guy," Denny said. "A very nice guy."

Steinmann, the Clinton manager, thinks Denny Almonte has a chance to climb the ranks in pro ball. He likes Denny's speed, talent and makeup.

"The way he goes about his business, I think, is one of the most important attributes that he has," Steinmann said. "He's very much a professional. He goes about his business every day, relentlessly, and that's what I appreciate from him. I think that's going to benefit him in the long run.."

Steinmann has heard the Denny Almonte/Danny Almonte story a couple of times this year. "I'm glad we've got this Almonte," he said.
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