Cubs have impact outfield prospect in Almora
Future looks bright for 19-year-old with sound skills at plate, defensive prowess
Albert Almora was among a trio of Chicago Cubs prospects that had the Arizona Fall League buzzing.
The Mesa Solar Sox had three players ranked on the Cubs Top 20 Prospect list, outfielder Jorge Soler (No. 3) third baseman Kris Bryant (No. 4) and outfielder Almora (No. 2). Each of those highly-rated young players earned the attention of scouts and player evaluators.
Almora is an extremely mature and highly skilled center fielder. He has flare. He has style. But he isn't flashy.
Still only 19 years old, the right-handed-hitting Almora was selected by the Cubs in the first round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
Instead of attending the University of Miami as he had planned, Almora signed his professional contract after graduating from Mater Academy Charter School in Hialeah, Florida.
In his senior year in high school, Almora, the son of a Cuban baseball player, hit .603 with six home runs and 34 runs batted in.
Almora also flashed speed in high school, collecting 13 doubles and five triples as a senior while stealing 24 bases in 25 attempts.
Always young for the competition, his dad has been teaching Albert to play baseball for years. In fact, a batting cage and baseball environment were built in the Almora back yard to help teach young Albert how to hit and play the game. In high school, he was a member of highly ranked traveling teams.
Every time I saw Almora play this past fall, I came away with the same conclusion. I didn't see any one overwhelming tool. What I did see, however, was a sum of several parts that added up to an outstanding athlete with advanced and refined ability. Every one of his five tools is good. Each one is above average.
While his line-drive-hitting tool is really good as it stands today, he's only just begun. That might be where his star currently shines brightest. Hitting for a high batting average. Almora has hit .321 and .329 in his first two Minor League seasons. And .307 in the Fall League. No doubt about it, he can hit. Home runs and power will come with more physical development.
Almora is a hard working right-handed-hitter with room to fill out his current 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame. I don't think the Almora we see in three years will look like the Almora we see today. His upper-body strength, overall weight and muscle tone should increase with training and development. Ultimately, his power will soar as well.
It is evident already that Almora has the type of arms and hands that can guide the bat through the ball quickly with force. He is an excellent line drive, contact hitter. He has struck out only 43 times in 417 Minor League plate appearances, not counting the Fall League.
Almora recognizes pitches quickly and adjusts accordingly. He does not panic at facing breaking balls. In fact, I have seen him square the ball up and takes pitches to all fields with relative ease.
Almora has the type of eye-hand coordination that consistently incorporates quick decision making, reducing the temptation to swing at bad pitches. In fact, Almora's approach is mature and advanced. He has outstanding baseball instincts in general, and hitting mechanics in particular.
Defensively, Almora already looks like a finished product.
He sees the ball off the bat well and chases down fly balls with good closing speed and again, good instincts for the ball. He has a strong and accurate arm, and he hits the cut-off man.
Almora has enough speed and range to patrol center field as a "take charge" guy and track down every ball that he should catch.
His speed will also allow him to steal bases and take an extra base on unsuspecting defenders.
Almora is a very polished and sophisticated type player. He makes good things happen in a measured, confident manner.
But as good as he is today, he will be much better in the future.
I believe Almora will become an impact player with the Cubs and become a key component of their future.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.