The Little League World Series provides entertainment for fans while also offering young baseball players a chance to showcase their skills and put themselves on the radar of professional scouts at a young age. MLB stars like Gary Sheffield and Cody Bellinger have played on the big stage in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
That’s exactly what Danny Almonte did in 2001 when he was starring for the team from the Bronx, New York during the LLWS and became known as “The Little Unit.” However, while some of these kids develop into MLB stars, Almonte rose to fame for a much different reason.
Nearly 20 years later, where is Danny Almonte now?
Danny Almonte LLWS
Danny Almonte moved from the Dominican Republic to the Bronx when he was just 12 years old and began dominating on the mound. He helped lead the Bronx team, the Rolando Paulino All-Stars, on a deep run through the Little League World Series.
In the Mid-Atlantic finals, Almonte threw a no-hitter, and also threw the LLWS’s first perfect game in the tournament’s history. He also threw a one-hitter against Oceanside in the tournament’s semifinal game.
His team eventually lost to the squad out of Apopka, Florida in the championship game in Williamsport, Pennsylvania after Almonte reached the pitching innings limit, but his run was remarkable and caught the attention of the baseball world. Almonte had finished the tournament with a remarkable 62 strikeouts having faced a total of 72 batters. That’s almost too…unbelievable.
Unfortunately, questions arose regarding Almonte’s eligibility for the LLWS, and a few teams raised some flags as to whether he was truly a 12-year-old, partially due to the velocity on his fastball. Both league president Rolando Paulino and Dominican officials insisted they were “certain” Almonte was born in 1989, thus making him eligible for the tournament.
However, Sports Illustrated discovered documents, a birth certificate, which stated that Almonte was actually born in 1987, rather than 1989, making him 14, two years older than the Little League Baseball age limit. As a result, the Bronx was stripped of its playoff victories and the team was wiped from the Little League World Series history books.
His father, Felipe Almonte, was charged with falsifying documents, though the Little Leaguer was cleared of any wrongdoing. ESPN also published an article effectively calling Rolando Paulino and Felipe Almonte all that is wrong with Little League parents.
Danny Almonte Now
Following the scandal at the LLWS, Almonte spent time between Miami and New York, finishing high school at James Monroe High in the Bronx. Almonte entered the 2006 MLB Draft out of high school but went undrafted. He then committed to junior college in New Mexico but decided to turn professional, signing with the Southern Illinois Miners in the Independent Frontier League.
Following his stint in the IFL, Almonte attended junior college at Western Oklahoma State and starred both on the mound and in the batter’s box for the program’s baseball team, hitting a total of 32 home runs across two seasons with the program.
Despite an impressive JuCo career, Almonte still failed to gain interest from Major League Baseball teams. He ended up back at James Monroe High, where he worked as an assistant coach.
The 33-year-old since moved on to coach at Cardinal Hayes, another New York high school.