Albert Almora...future Captain?

Albert Almora...future Captain?

Check out these excerpts from various scouting reports...

  • Does not play like a 17 year old
  • He thinks and approaches the game like a seasoned veteran and at the same time can exude all of the exuberance of a child playing in his very first game.
  • Not overly physical...may not be fastest...but has agility, quickness...is extremely smart, effective and versatile, anticipates play
  • Great vision, ability to adapt
  • It is hard to point to just one or two qualities that makes him such a special player because he is immensely gifted in so many areas.
  • He is instinctive and plays with a tremendous amount of poise, confidence and passion.
  • As good as he is offensively, he is almost equally as good defensively.
  • Highly competitive, strives to be the best he can be
  • Outstanding Leadership qualities; Consistent, hard-working player who leads by example
  • Played on multiple national teams as an amateur

Is this Albert Almora's amateur scouting report?

No, but it may as well be.

These are actually excerpts from amateur scouting reports on the Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews.

A while back, Jimmy Greenfield compared Albert Almora to Jonathan Toews and I remember thinking at the time that he nailed it.  Like Toews, Almora doesn't wow you with his speed or physicality.  He's not going to put up ridiculous statistics and you don't look at him and think "superstar"  -- but you do see a certain quality in Almora that almost seems to guarantee that he will get every ounce out of his ability.

That is not to say Almora gets by on grit alone.  That ability is still immense but it's not about strength and speed with him.  Like Toews, what Almora has is athleticism that is well suited for his sport -- the hand-eye coordination, the quick hands, the smooth fluid athleticism and functional speed and strength.  For Almora, it's about baseball-specific athleticism and skill.

Professor Parks recently said that Almora could well be the Cubs top prospect.  That's high praise when you consider Javier Baez's preposterous bat speed and ceiling, as well as Kris Bryant's insane production and MLB readiness practically from day one.  He may not put up the big counting numbers, but it's not out of the question to think Almora may provide the most value of any Cubs player a few years from now.  His all-around play from a premium position on defense is key.  Almora may not produce the most runs on offense, but he may well save the most on defense.  The combination of offense and defense could someday result in 5-6 WAR seasons, perhaps more.

You're not going to get a guy who hits 30 HRs or steals 30 bases.  But you'll get a player who makes consistent hard contact that gives him the ability to .300 with extra base power and 15-20 HRs.  There's an intelligent approach at the plate that should one day translate to great OBP numbers.  Right now, there isn't much Almora can't hit, but he doesn't chase bad pitches.  He waits for the first good pitch and then more often than not puts solid wood on the ball.  As he matures and faces better pitching, we may see Almora naturally develop the ability to take more walks.  He made significant progress in that direction last year before his season ending injury.

On defense, he's not a burner but he gets such tremendous jumps that he gets an extra step or two when compared to your average outfielder.  Efficient routes and a direct path to the baseball make his slightly above average speed play.  In short, Almora may not be fast, but he plays fast -- especially on defense.  He makes difficult plays look effortless.

In time, I think Almora can be the Cubs #2 hitter in the lineup and play Gold Glove defense.  His beyond-his-years maturity and fluency in both English and Spanish can make him a leader -- make that a captain -- on and off the field for what may someday be a perennially good Cubs team.

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    And like Almora, Toews is bilingual. He speaks Canadian.

  • In reply to Pooch7171:

    Joking aside, Toews is bilingual, speaking French.

  • In reply to Pooch7171:

    lol!

  • Nice article, John. Albert is my kind of player. I can't wait until he is being cheered on the north side.

  • In reply to Sheboygan Frank:

    Thank you. Me too. I don't think he'll put up the best numbers on the team, but I think he'll be one of the team's most valuable guys and the glue that holds it all together.

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    My prediction on Almora: .290 BA with 15 HRs
    My Ceiling of Almora: .315 with 20 HRs

  • In reply to gas34:

    Those are Dustin Pedroia like numbers. Couple that with great defense and the intangibles and you have yourself one heck of a player.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Funny you drop Pedroia's name cause watching the series I was thinking that Almora could be Pedroia like.

    Great teammate and leader. Not physically impressive or statistically crazy, but the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.

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    In reply to gas34:

    Don't forget about 40 doubles, also

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    I'm hoping he turns out to at least have Shane Victorino-type skills. Peak WAR of 5-5.5 would be a grand slam of a pick.

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    Thanks for this article, John. I think Almora can get lost because he's the furthest away of the big four and even the most optimistic predictions have his OPS far below the other three. But if he can be the Andrelton Simmons of center field and provide a high OBP bat in the 2 hole, along with his obvious leadership gifts, he could be the most important guy on the team. He'd contribute both by turning center field into the place where doubles go to die and by standing on second when Bryant launches one into the lake.

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    I think Almora's ceiling is far more than "just" a .300 hitter with average-above average power and good defense, it's a Jeter-like glue for a team, as well. Jeter probably wasn't the most talented guy on any Yankee team he's played on, yet he's arguably the most memorable. A lot of comparable intangibles there, I think.

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    I'd say that's another good comparison.

  • Can he play second?

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Why would you move him out of CF?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Second base is a glaring hole in our line-up.

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    In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Yes, thankfully we have second base, left field, and third base figured out to make up for that....

    ....?

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    That was joke, right?

  • any chance we see almora in 2014 ?

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    In reply to Rbirby:

    Extremely unlikely. If the Cubs shock people by competing and he's performing well in AA, he could get the Manny Machado call-up down the stretch.

  • In reply to Rbirby:

    No, 2015 maybe. Could see him get to AA in 2014.

  • I'll ,never understand what makes you guys so over-the-top projecting on these kids who haven't cracked AA., It is really incredible. We all hope that they turn into HOFers, but get a grip!

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    If you've been a Cubs fan for more than a decade you'll understand that we've never been treated to anything like this. Think to the years just before Theo got here; Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt were the Cubs' top prospects. They were back-end top 100 guys.

    Watching the Red Sox clinch last night with a bunch of homegrown guys with some key free agents mixed in and it makes you wonder. That's why it's easy to get excited - that and the insane hype that I've never seen before for Cubs' prospects.

  • In reply to 2015HereWeCome:

    Exactly.

  • In reply to 2015HereWeCome:

    I've had this affliction since 1945. Nobody wants it more than I.
    Of that I'm certain. There is clearly something potentially exciting going on. I refuse to get my hopes up. I've been burned almost annually by unrealistic expectations. What we ended the year with was expectations. It's hardly the first time, and probably not the last.
    It was sweet to watch the Birds get whupped.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Can't wait until we're the ones doing the whupping!

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    All we got is the future and these top flight, legit prospects. It's all about hope and anticipation. And that's what makes John's work on this site the most relevant source for Cubs fans. I can't get enough. Thanks for all you do, John!

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    This is what the Cubs brought in this FO to do -- this is your future Cubs team. We can talk about rumors and free agents but have those worked out any better for the Cubs?

    You've obviously been a Cubs fan a long time and it seems to me you should understand better than many how the best Cubs team in recent history were built, starting with those late 60s early 70s Cubs that were made up of homegrown stars and up to the 2003 team that came within 5 outs from the WS.

    You've seen the Cubs do things the wrong way more often than not -- now that they're investing in young talent instead of neglecting it, you're going to complain? After seeing what Boston and the Cardinals have done with their homegrown players, you think this is not worth monitoring?

    I don't get it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John,
    There is far more than monitoring going on here. I don't disagree with anything you assert. I'm still reserving my jubilation until there is something tangible to celebrate.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Understood. You can reserve your excitement over Cubs prospects but you can't expect other people to do the same. The Cubs are doing things the right way for a change. That alone is exciting for many of us.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Couldn't agree more John. I've been a fan since mid 60s not as long as Bloomie but long enough to be disappointed countless times but have never been as excited about the future as I am now. Keep up the good work and keep us informed of all the prospects we can look forward to seeing in Wrigley.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    "Those who wait for joy to break down their door
    will complain about the broken door."

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Dude, prospects and discussing the 3-5 'core' players on the Cubs roster is clearly the narrative for this site (among some other things like the managerial search). If you don't want to be a part of the conversation or don't want to hear people make some projections for these core players and prospects, why do you bother reading - let alone commenting?

    Newsflash - the major league team stinks. I recommend you just sit it out for a year or two - and come back when the team projects to be better. That, or go read Ivy Chat (if its still around). That dude loves to bitch about the team...

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    In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Right on john, We have a tremendous future but some of these guys like bloomie have lost there patience. I am stoked and read your site every single day and love it!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    +1. It's tough being a fan of both the Cubs and the Bears. Their most hated rivals also happen to be the organizations who have been doing it right for the better part of a decade.

    Look who the Cardinals trotted out of the bullpen yesterday. Four homegrown guys blowing 97 consistently, letting them use their money and resources elsewhere. Chances are they will trade one of those young arms for a shortstop that will have them kicking the Cubs' butts again next year.

    That's where we want the Cubs to be. If you get past the Cubs' big four, there are a ton of other guys who can sweeten a trade enough to make it happen. If a Price trade goes down, maybe because of the Cubs infield depth they are able to include someone like Villanueva instead of Alcantera. That's what's going to pay off down the line.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I try to look at it this way: As a baseball fan I am witnessing a Major League team being built from the ground up in order to be excellent every year. (& you do a great job covering it) Watching this system advance (not just like a Felix Pie one year or a Corey Patterson the next) is what we have to be excited about right now. And its not all for naught. When they see what players are going to fill out the lineup & roster in 2015/16, I have faith they'll spend the money on the appropriate free agents to fill whatever holes there are.

    I tell friends, if you want to be the Cardinals, Braves, or Red Sox & be perennial winners, stick through the painful times over the next year or two. Its a requirement. However if you cant handle it, jump ship for a few years - and I dont mean that a mean way. Its unhealthy to be so pissed off all the time about a team you follow.

  • Love this comp John, thanks for writing this. Having seen Almora play in person, he reminds me of Craig Biggio. Isn't going to hit a lot of homers or drive in the most runs, but always seems to be a thorn in the side of the other team. Difference is Almora is as smooth as can be in center. If a 'superstar' could ever be a glue guy, Almora has the look to be that type of guy.

  • In reply to 2015HereWeCome:

    You're welcome and thanks! Almora is definitely a guy that I think will be a thorn in the other team's side -- hopefully the way Yadier Molina is a thorn in the Cubs side.

  • I got the chance to meet him in Beloit (we were both having a meal at the grill deck before batting practice) and he came off as an extremely respectful and humble person. The discussion wasn't even baseball centered for the most part, but he was genuinely happy to talk to a fan and didn't have a hint of arrogance that some top prospects might be expected to have. He then proceeded down to the dugout and signed autographs for every single kid and fan who were lined up. If he makes it to the majors and is at least average, he will be an instant fan favorite in Chicago.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Thanks for the story mmu. I have had the chance to see Almora many times and while I didn't sit down with him, I agree with your observations. The kid is humble and respects the game and fans.

  • "fluency in both English and Spanish" Can he be the manager?

  • Ha! He probably could.

  • I'm excited about Almora. I've been a Cubs fan since 1969, and the Cubs haven't had a standout center fielder the entire time I've followed the team. Jerome Walton had one good year his rookie year, but was never as good after that. I'm hoping the Cubs have finally found one who will stick and be good for a long time.

  • In reply to nccubfan:

    Agreed -- I think a good CF is key when it comes to run prevention.

  • In reply to nccubfan:

    All, I can say in my gloom and doom mode is Madlock for Murcer.

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    In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Hundley for Mitterwald. Santo to the ChiSox.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    CubStalk for Bloomie ?

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    In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Those two trades hurt me the most when I was a kid. Rebel Hundley was a good friend of my father's, so it meant he would not be coming by the house anymore. I always hated Mitterwald because of that. The Santo trade temporarily made me a White Sox fan, I was so pissed at John Holland for making that trade. I only stayed a Cubs fan because Santo begged Cubs fans not to switch allegiances.

    That trade sucked the life out of Santo. He probably would have been significantly more productive in '74 had he stayed on the North Side.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Seeing Santo misused on the South Side, plus the whole "Red Baron" hoopla/crap about Swing-hard-in-case-the-ball-hits-the-bat Mitterwald, made me nauseous.
    I read lots of books those years and prayed for what we are finally looking at today -- this bright Cubs future with great FO leadership.

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    In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Don't be down on yourself, but your going to feel real silly when the secret is out that Albert Almora does walk on water !

    You guys can come back here and pt and laugh at me if Almora turns out to be 65% the player Toews is. I am not the most foremost authority in hockey by any means, but I have talked to a lot of friends who live break the sport and they consider Toews at least a top 15 player in the league. They guy has been a crucial part of 2 titles and they are poised to make many more runs.

    I do agree that the blueprints are very similar for the hawks and what the cubs are doing now, but the problem is these are 2 different sports and the Hawks did have a little luck go there way. We all know as cubs fans, not to depend on luck.

    Granted, the majority of us could be wrong ( i hope so) and these cubs prospects could become all star staples for the next decade or so. Unless they somehow find a way to grab an ace this year via free agency or trade, this teams outlook is looking like those late 90's rangers and rockies team and thats assuming these bats hitters become legit.

  • Watching all the post-game hoopla last night, a lot was made about the hard-working grinder types on the Boston roster. Pedroia, Napoli, Gomes, Ross, are not necessarily the most gifted guys with all the tools. But they work hard, they have a nose for the game, and they win. It's hard not to root for guys like that. Almora sounds like he could fit right in with that kind of group.

  • Nice work John! He will be our "Dustin Pedroia" or "Derek Jeter".... with less HR's.

    I like Almora, I do. I think he's a stud. I just don't understand why so many are projecting 15-20 HR's. The average joe on here thinks that's an annual thing. Kevin pointed out in his opinion, he may touch that for a couple of years. I agree as he has shown little power to date.

    I understand he may still have some projection left... but he hasn't grown much since being drafted, so to think he is going to finish filling out doesn't seem realistic. I guess it'd be easier for me to wrap my head around the projection if he displayed more power now. Let's face it, everyone calls him "advanced for his age" and claims he dominated at KC and is
    "holding his own in the AFL".... but he is not a HR hitter now. and I suspect he will have more years in single digits HR totals than he does 15+ HR's. That's not taking anything away from him as a player. I still think he will be a natural leader or "captain" and mainstay during our "dynasty years".

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks. I think he could have similar power to those guys. He makes good hard contact. Not very big and swing plane more conducive to contact, but when he connects there's some hair on that baseball. He's not a punch and judy hitter. With all due respect to Kevin, I've seen Almora a lot and he can hit the ball a long way and I've seen it repeatedly in instructs and in BP. There is power there and I think he can tap into more of it as he matures physically.

  • I think I said the same thing in a comment in the last post.

  • Very eerie and chilling that you wrote this after last night. I was listening to the game and left before the top of the 9th so I caught the last out in my car. As I was driving the thought I had that flashed before my eyes (while listening to Boston celebrate) was Almora LEADING the charge with Bryant by his side, ala Pedroia and Elsbury.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    Now that would be something...I can almost hear it.

  • This Jimmy Greenfield guy, he sounds very wise and learned.

  • In reply to Jimmy Greenfield:

    He is indeed.

  • I've frequently thought that Bernie Williams was a good comp for Almora.

  • In reply to JB88:

    That could work.

  • Putting their physical gifts aside, from what I've gathered, Almora and Bryant just seem like 'good guys'. Thats not taking anything away from Baez / Soler. They seem very genuine and down to earth. Respectful. Guys that, if they pan out, could be the legit team captains for a decade.

    I don't follow the Hawks with much intensity, but it seems like we could maybe compare Baez to Kane? Both flashy, cocky, a flair for the dramatic, extremely talented, offensive forces, a little raw... I'd say that Kane has a bad rap given his altercation with that cabbie a few years back, has / had a higher floor and has legit NHL experience. Baez will be target #1 for teams if he ever comes close to his ceiling, because he will have plenty of opportunities to gloat if he hits 40 bombs a year (and will take a lot of HBP as well).

    I can't wait until the Cubs are in the playoffs and Fox constantly shows the image of the MLB tattoo on the back of his next...

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    I prefer the term "extremely confident" vs "cocky". I've been on the field with him when he was a HS amateur. Talked/interacted with him. Know a lot of people that are close to his inner circle of family & friends.

    This kid says "please and thank you" and "yes sir - no sir", etc to complete strangers away from the baseball field. He's not a "flashy, cocky, or flair for the dramatic" guy. He is super competitive and extremely confident on top of the obvious talent. Do we want him to be less passionate about being the best he can be?

    I think his confidence gets misinterpreted by those who sometimes see what they want to see. His team mates look up to him and he has a certain charisma with them. I'd be shocked if he wasn't considered one of the clubhouse "leaders".

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Actually, that's how the comparison went originally. Jimmy, who comments here and is the Chicago Now manager, suggested an Almora/Toews and Baez/Kane comp for those reasons.

  • John, your comparison to Johnny Toews and your reference to the Cubs team of the late 60s/early 70s brings this to mind:

    One of the great things flowing off this rebuild, especially for the regulars of this site, is following on practically a daily basis, the progress of our anticipated future. Guys like: Almora, Baez, Bryant, Soler, Alcantara, Edwards, Johnson and others. Thanks to what you do, we already know these players quite well and we are already bonding with them, rooting for them. They're already "our guys." The future is now!

    That's what was so enjoyable with the Blackhawks resurgence. We saw our young future stars, kids in their teens and early twenties, like Toews, Kane, Seabrook, Keith, Bolland, Bickel, Leddy, Shaw, Saad -- even Sharp, blossom right before our eyes. We saw them grow grow as one and become Champions. We had the same thing with Walter and the Bears of the early 80s become perhaps the most dominant team in NFL history, the '85 Bears. We had the same thing in the 60s with Santo, Kessinger, Beckert and Banks, and Billy, Fergie, and others -- except like so many great Blackhawks teams of the 80s and early 90s, they fell short, broke our hearts and made us love them all the more.

    Many here have commented that the play of big league club this past summer was secondary to what was happening with our MiLB teams. That was certainly true for me. My anticipation has been growing and growing to almost unbearable levels. I just can't wait to see our future stars, these prospects, get here. I'll be pulling for them like crazy, not only because they're part of the Cubs -- but mostly because, thanks to what you do, they're already "my guys." The future is now!

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Thanks Nondorf.

    That's what made me become such a big fan of the Hawks. I'm not a hockey expert by any means, but like I've said, I started following them because of my wife -- and it was pretty lean at first, but soon enough, their shrewd drafting, trades, and wise FA signings began to come through. It was fun to see them go from a bad team to a two time champion --e xactly what I want from the Cubs.

  • I think a decent comp for Almora is Aaron Rowand during the two years of his career when he was pretty outstanding (2004 and 2007). Same kind of player during those years as we are all projecting Almora to be like for 15 years. I could live with that (5+ WAR each year), excellent defense, team leadership, etc...

  • John, when I read your description I thought of a player I never saw, except a clip or two on YouTube, or saw in my mind's eye playing APBA: Dom DiMaggio.

  • In reply to Jim Hickman:

    Hmmm.. I didn't see him play either so I really can't say. Interesting, though.

  • Great stuff John. It's observations like yours and just the positive outlook Cub fans need at this time to give us hope that we won't always be a NL doormat. And regarding posters like Bloomie that aren't into any type of exuberance over prospects, I submit BA's projected 2016 Cardinal line-up (submitted prior to 2013 season)... Molina C, Craig 1B, Wong 2B, Freese 3B, Kozma SS, Holliday LF, Jay CF, Taveras RF, Wainwright SP, Miller SP, Garcia SP, Lynn SP, Martinez SP, Motte Closer. Woww... looks much like this years team, doesn't it? Loaded with guys that were in the minors at this point last year-- and we're supposed to believe that prospects will fail?

    If one thinks it's only the Cards that can have those results, check out BAs projected line-ups and they tend to be quite accurate. And for the record, their 2016 Cubs line-up was listed as Castillo C, Rizzo 1B, Castro 2B, Candelario 3B, Baez SS, BJax LF, Almora CF, Soler RF, Shark SP, Garza SP, Vizcaino SP, EJax SP, P. Johnson SP, Paniagua Closer. Fairly close IMO... will obviously have Bryant 3B/OF, Edwards, Wood, Hendricks as starters, Vizcaino probably closing.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    Thanks Paulson -- and great points on those future lineups. We all know things don't always pan out -- but sometimes they do. And they have a better chance when you have top impact players and lots of depth.

  • Since there are several comparisons to Almora on here, I'd like to make one myself. I'd LOVE to have Mark Grace's bat in CF, especially if its a gold glove caliber. I'd think Almora would be a little better on the base paths than Grace was. I don't think Grace ever hit 20 HRs in a season, but his OBP at CF would be very nice, and he had enough pop to keep the defense honest.

    My favorite comparison is Pedroia. He is a heart and soul kind of player.

  • In reply to couch:

    Thanks couch. I think if he can hit like Grace and do it as a CF, he's going to be a perennial all-star. Hope he has that kind of patience.

  • Reports that Almora and Soler are "like brothers" is probably the best thing that Soler (and the Cubs, and us) has going for him right now. While Soler has the challenge of assimilating to life in the US he also has to assimilate to the game here. If Almora is indeed the leader he appears to be, it could be all the difference in Soler reaching the potential so many see.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    Good point. I remember they were always side by side in instructs. Vogelbach always hung around them too. Everybody likes Vogelbach, though :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Soler is living with Almora and his family now that his dad has left for Cuba again.

    They are inseparable.

    So much so, I have a feeling the FO is going to keep them together from now on.

    Which could mean that either Soler will start with Almora in Daytona for a 2-3 months. A+ refresher for Soler, and 200-300 at bats for Almora at A+.

    OR

    The FO could skip Almora over A+ so they both start in AA together, but then give them both a full year there.... If they both do really well, maybe give them a taste of AAA at years end just to give them a start on the next year.

    Either route has them both in AAA in 2015, scheduled for a June/July callup if they succeed.

  • I've never really thought a baseball team needs a captain. Clubhouse leaders emerge naturally and it's not necessary to force the issue.

  • In reply to GAHillbilly:

    Agreed. Baseball is a different game, but I meant Captain as in Toews' nickname and as a generic word for leader.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sahadev Sharma ‏@sahadevsharma 12h

    Almora is super confident, as he left, I said I wouldn't see him until he gets to Wrigley. He smiled & said, "Then I'll see you soon."

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    that's awesome.

  • Bloomie, if you're still reading the thread, I will tell you that I am close to your time in being a Cubs fan and have gone through all the disappointments and heartache any one person can take. My wife once told me that I had to stop thinking that the Cubs lose BECAUSE I want them to win so badly. LOL! But that's as bad as it has been for me. So, I understand the, "I'll believe it when I see it", but doggone it, this is the most hopeful I think I've ever been. I've been living and dying with this team since about 1958 and here is the first time I've seen a farm system anything close to this level. Are we just setting ourselves up for yet another heartbreak? No. Unless all/most of these kids get hurt, there is no reason for gloom and doom anymore. And even in that event, Theo will just keep on keeping on, as they say.

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