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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