Albert Almora could rise quickly

Albert Almora could rise quickly

You never want to rush prospects.  The Cubs have had a few examples that we don't need to rehash here.  Suffice to say that the Cubs organization hasn't always put a premium on development.

Still, there are some prospects who are ahead of the curve.  They are more mature both physically (from a skills standpoint) and mentally and can handle the challenge.  For those kind of players, the standard timeline does not apply.  We've seen that already with Kris Bryant and we expect that to continue into next season.

Another player who could move quickly in 2014 is Albert Almora.  And though he didn't even play a full season in A ball last year due to injury, don't be surprised if he is nipping at the heels of Bryant and Javy Baez by the end of the year.

Almora is one of the more polished high school players we've seen in the past few years.  While he doesn't have the ceiling of someone like Javier Baez or Jorge Soler, he is a safer bet to reach that ceiling.

I've seen Almora a lot over the past couple of years, first in instructs and then again at Kane County last year.  He quietly exudes confidence on the field.  He's mature for his age and a natural leader.  Ye he plays the game with the passion you would expect from a 19 year old kid.

Between the lines, he particularly stands out in two areas.  The first is his defense.  Almora has average to slightly above average speed but he more than makes up for that by getting an excellent jump on the ball and taking efficient, direct routes.  He's not afraid to leave his feet and make spectacular plays in the field but more often than not, he makes it look easy out there.  He gets a good read and puts himself in position to make the throw when necessary.  He has a good arm but I wouldn't call it a cannon, yet Almora has 11 assists in 92 career games in the field.  He turned 3 DPs from the outfield with his arm last year in 59 games.

This may be a strange comparison but when I think of Almora in the outfield, I think of....Greg Maddux.  That is not to say he's going to be a Hall of Fame defender, but rather what I mean is that, to me, Maddux always had good stuff, but it was by no means elite.  He played up his stuff because he knew the game so well and was able to consistently max out good tools so that, at game time, they played like elite tools.  Maddux was an artist on the mound.  Almora will be one in CF.  He is already the Cubs best at the position in the organization and it isn't really close.

The second area is his ability to repeatedly make hard contact.

Almora's strength on offense is his ability to make contact and hit for average.  Despite a rather high leg kick, it's a fluid swing in which he keeps his head still while the bat stays in the zone a long time, allowing him to see the ball well and consistently barrel up the baseball.   He didn't walk much (6.3%) while at Kane County but the pitch recognition skills are evident.  It was almost as surprising to see Almora swing wildly at a bad pitch as it was to see him swing and miss.  I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've seen Almora chase a ball well out of the strike zone -- and I wouldn't need all 5 fingers to do so.

Don't forget that Almora broke his hammate bone in the spring and missed the entire first month of the season, then came into play with no real spring training -- and he still hit .363 in his first 27 games.  In that time frame, he had only 5 games in which he went hitless and 11 multi-hit games, including 6 in which he had 3 or more.  Think about that -- a month off of baseball and Almora comes back and has more 3+ hit games than he did hitless games in roughly his first month back.

He couldn't possibly make progress from there, could he?

I'm happy you asked because in some ways, I'm more excited about the rest of Almora's season.  The league adapted but so did Almora.  When they stopped challenging him, he became more selective and struck out less.

For the next 35 games, Almora struck out just 12 times while walking 12 in 156 PAs.  That is a 7.7% rate for each, so Almora ended up improving his walk rate while also significantly improving his already ridiculous contact rate.  There is no question in mind that he was ready for a call-up to Daytona before he got hurt.  He was simply too good for the Midwest League.  Overall, Almora ended up hiting .329/.376/.466 at Kane County.

Almora then had another 2 months off and picked up where he left off in the AZ Fall League, which is roughly equivalent to a good high A ball league, though it may be slightly higher because there are many AA players in the AZL.  The "rusty" Almora simply went out and hit .307/.342/.480 in 21 games there despite being one of the youngest players in the league.  It seems the kid can roll out of bed at 3 a.m. grab a bat and hit a line drive into the left-center field gap.  It only seems that way because Almora works hard at his craft.

As for his power, Almora isn't in the same league as Bryant, Baez, and Soler.  He doesn't have their physical strength and, as mentioned earlier, his bat stays in the zone a long time and that is more indicative of a line-drive hitter who should hit for average.  However, Almora makes such consistent hard contact that every so often he's going to crush it with just enough back spin on the ball, so it wouldn't surprise me to see him hit around 15 HRs per year without having to sell out for power.

So what I think we'll see out of Almora is roughly a .290 to .300 hitter who will walk at an average rate and put up an OBP in the .350 to .360 range while hitting double digit HRs.  Keep in mind that that kind of hitter will also be playing Gold Glove caliber defense at a premium position.  He's not going to have the ceiling of Baez, Soler, or Bryant on offense, but the potential for solid offensive numbers combined with top shelf CF defense means he has the ability to provide tremendous value for the team.

That is the hopeful expectation.  But the floor for Almora is what makes things a little less worrisome.  As long as he stays healthy, he should at least be a good hitter for average who plays great defense.  The power and the ability to have at least an average walk rate aren't quite as certain -- but even if you have a guy playing great defense at a premium position and hitting in the .280-290 range with 5-8 HRs, that's still good value over his first 6 years.  The key phrase for Almora is "as long as he stays healthy".  He's had trouble doing that early in his career, but there's nothing to indicate that it hasn't been just bad luck so far.

I'm excited to see what the coaching staff at Daytona can do with Almora.  Mariano Duncan has helped many hitters take that next step by improving their approach at the plate.  We could see Almora make a mid-season jump to Tennessee the way Baez did last year and if Almora has success at AA, he may not be all that far behind Baez and Bryant when it comes to donning the pinstripes at Wrigley.

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  • Great article John. I'm really hoping to see Almora as a staple in the Wrigley outfield for a lot of years. Any comparisons to current players?

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    Thanks. It's really hard to find a comp for Almora but for Cubs fans, they may look back and remember Brian McRae who put up two solid seasons for the Cubs in 95 and 96. I think Almora is probably a better hitter and defender than McRae, but he's also not as fast. We can expect similar play in terms of average power, great defense, good baserunning, but with a better average for Almora and thus a higher OBP, but less SBs. He's also going to play all out the way McRae did for the Cubs.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, when you describe Almora another name comes to mind. Rod Carew. I know Carew hit LH, but he had that same roll out of bed and hit a liner somewhere approach.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Loved Rod Carew. He's the guy I tried to hit like, even though in reality it came out like Davey Rosello.

  • I think he would increase his value a lot if he could steal 15-25 bases a year as well to go along with the triples swing and excellent defense.

    Hope to see him soon.

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    He really could be our Derek Jeter

  • In reply to Louie101:

    I like that comp in terms of a premium position all-star and team leader. That is a lofty goal, though.

  • In reply to Louie101:

    So an above-average hitter and defender, clutch hitter and team leader. A consistent All Star due partly to lack of competition and partly insane fan following.

    Sounds good to me.

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    That player John descibes as what he thinks we'll see out of Almora makes him one of the greatest center fielders that ever lived. I think we can all live with that. ;-) I wonder if the BA might surprise up, though, once he gets more injury-free playing time.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I actually just compared him to the Cubs era Brian McRae with a better bat and less speed. I don't know if that's greatest that ever lived, but it's a pretty good ball player. I think he can be a 4+ WAR player consistently with a couple of years where he surpasses that.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Over the course of a career that's Kenny Lofton with fewer steals and better defense. I'd consider Lofton a borderline Hall of Famer, so...

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He's not going to have Lofton's walk rates and i don't know if he'll hit for as high an average as Lofton did early in his career. He doesn't have the same speed and time to 1B to pad his avg with infield hits.

  • how many of the top prospects will get the BA's that Theo wants

  • John
    I really liked your comparison to Johnathan Toews you did a few months back.

    How does the AFL equate in the minor league structure? Is that an AA equivalent? If so, he should have no problem with AA after a .374 WOBA in the AFL.

    That Tennessee Smokies team is gonna be fun to watch. Road Trip!

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Thanks. I'd call it somewhere between A and AA. The talent level is close to AA but the experience factor and less AA caliber players across the board make it a notch below. I think Almora can handle AA at some point after some early reps at Daytona.

  • Great article, John. What I also like about Almora (and Baez for that matter) is his personal story. When the Cubs first signed him, there was a story about Almora, and his family relationships. I know you have to have talent in order to succeed in MLB, but the best talents also seem to have a personal story that speaks to the player's character. When I heard that Almora placed his gold medal, which he had just won, in his grandfather's casket when it was time to say goodby, he won my heart and I became a fan. There's more than just 5 tools to this kid. There's heart!

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    Thanks TEC. I think mental makeup is key and the Cubs have done a better job of drafting that after having some issues with Corey Patterson, Ben Christensen, and Mark Pawelek to name a few.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It's refreshing you didn't add the others you could have. Pie anybody? There appears to be a better predraft analysis with Theo/Hoyer than the Spendry years, and thank goodness for that.I'm still on board with The Plan,what choice do we have anyway.Full speed ahead Cubbie Brass.

  • I'm thinking the KC version of David DeJesus with better defense. Solid player, but not the difference maker we need. Also don't see any way he makes his MLB debut this year. He's behind Baez, Bryant and Alcantara. If they all make their debuts in the same year, say 2014, come 2020 we'll have 4 guys entering FA at the same time, which would be very expensive. t would be better to space them out.

  • In reply to djriz:

    Even if I grant you that comp, which I'm guessing you are basing on K rates and walk rates, if you take DeJesus' bat in his good years and add premium CF defense, that's going to be a 4+ WAR player. I also think he has as a chance to hit more a bit more power. That is a difference maker. It's not a superstar but didn't say he would be. He's going to be a very good player that provides great value.

    I don't think anyone is expecting Almora to come up this year so not sure where that part came from.

    I do think the Cubs will try and spread them all out as far as call-ups.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    First, I need to see the power happen before I'm sold, but if you look at DeJesus' KC stat line, it pretty much looks like what you are saying Almora will be, minus your views on Albert's future power. Secondly, I misinterpreted this line " and if Almora has success at AA, he may not be all that far behind Baez and Bryant when it comes to donning the pinstripes at Wrigley." Sorry. Since I think we'll see Baez/Bryant after the All Star break, the words "soon after" could mean Sept 2014.

  • In reply to djriz:

    Have you seen Almora hit? He didn't hit .327 with cheapies. He stings the ball consistently. I think 12-15 HRs is very possible once he fills out a little. I've also seen some of that latent power in instructs. It's there, it's just a matter of getting a little stronger and learning when to turn on a pitch for power.

    I don't think either Baez or Bryant will be up at the all-star break barring extraordinary circumstances.

    As for DeJesus, it depends on which one, but if you take his good seasons and add premium CF defense and a few HRs, that's a difference maker. That's likely an all-star level guy, which is what I see in Almora. That doesn't mean he's a superstar, but I believe he's going to be a very good player at a premium position for a long time.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    hope you are right.

  • In reply to djriz:

    Excellent point on the FA timeline. I would think that if it is a concern of the front office, it would be a concern for prospects coming up in 2015 as well. Would we really spread out the FA years or ensure we have the players for another year?

    The advantage that Almora has is that he can play three outfield positions. That being said, I doubt he comes up this year. High A to the majors is a big leap just one year.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    I see the rookie timelines this way:
    For 2014.
    1. Baez june or july (after barney is gone and we no what we have with Olt)
    2. Alcantera july (if Olt falls flat and Alcantera continues his progress)
    3. Hendricks in july or august (if they flip a starter)
    4. Bryant september (directly from AA)

    then in 2015 I think we will see: Edwards,Almora and maybe Soler
    &Bruno.

    Again, If these guys progress.

  • In reply to djriz:

    If the worst that Almora is when he does get his callup is DDJ at his KC peak - he's going to be a fine guy to have in CF for multiple years.

  • In reply to djriz:

    "It would be better to space them out." No!!!! You let each prospect develop at his own pace. They tell you when they're ready by their performance. If we wind up with a whole bunch of these guys having big-league success at the same time, that'd be the optimal outcome. It would mean we suffered less than the usual attrition rate. Nice problem. They also would not all enter FA at the same time. Because we'd follow the prevailing trend and sign the definite keepers to favorable long-term contracts, buying out their first couple FA years. You never, ever rush or delay an individual prospect's timetable because of other prospects' timetables. And in our case, Theo/Jed are obviously keeping all the big-league spots open for these kids by going with temporary, dispensable placeholders. They arrive when they arrive. More, the better. And whenever each shows he's ready. The whole plan is a big enough challenge without setting up some goofy, constraining quota system on how many allowed up at certain times.

  • This got me thinking...
    If I were going to dip into the prospect pool for a new addition to my jersey collection, who would be the best investment?

    I think Almora and Bryant may be the two best investments. It seems like injury is the only thing that can derail their paths.

    Solar and Baez are by far the sexiest picks, but you have a big bust opportunity there. No one wants to be stuck wearing the next Corey Patterson jersey, but if they hit it big you would be one of the first committed to the bandwagon.

    For the hopeless optimist you could go all-in with a new Tanaka jersey. You may need a rush delivery on that one.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    Will #8 be his big league permanent number?

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    In reply to edubbs:

    Not if Damon Berryhill has anything to say about it.

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    In reply to Eric Foster:

    Correction: He was #9.
    My bad!

  • My favorite Cub prospect....solid, the focus, and mistake free. His seasons will be perennially good-great, yet his great seasons will become a quiet standard. There won't be negative off the field headlines either. My next Cub jersey purchase.

  • In reply to edubbs:

    Me too. He may not be an all star or a superstar but he will be the Cubs MVP year in and year out. I think he has the baseball instincts to steal some bases. Thanks for the article John - great stuff.

  • In reply to dumbass:

    Thanks. You may be right and he may steal a few based on those great instincts. The traditional numbers won't be eye-popping but I think he adds so much value with all the little things he does -- the defense, the throwing, the baserunning, etc. that he will be a much better player than he looks at first glance.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Little things like hitting the cutoff man and throwing to the right base.I do believe he will be a terrific ambassador too, besides the leadership he exudes. He is the one prospect, that when you write about him, I can't wait to read the article. Thanks, John.

  • All these great aromas from the kitchen...when do we eat?

  • In reply to xhooper:

    You can either wait for a good, nutritious home made meal or you can get a quick, ready to eat a high calorie meal at the fast food place that will satisfy your hunger quickly -- but you'll regret it later.

    I'll just wait and take in those great aromas for now, even if it makes my stomach growl a little.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    love it

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Would that make the Yankees McDonalds?

  • Ha! It does this year. They had their best recent success when they grew their own core (Jeter, Williams, Posada, Rivero, Pettitte, etc.)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    LOL. I can wait. But I get cranky when I'm hungry. I get the feeling most of the noise in Wrigley the next couple years will be coming from 25,000 empty bellies.

  • In reply to xhooper:

    Haha! They'll just stuff those bellies full of bison dogs and budweiser in the meantime. Comfort food for hard times.

    I actually get a headache when I wait too long to eat -- and I must admit I've broken down my share of times and got me some McDonald's. But I regret it every time :)

  • I just booked my flight to Arizona for spring training! Can't wait to see the new stadium. John, do you have any idea of what prospects might be there? Also in regards to Almora, i know it is a different position but great defense, .300 hitter with 10-15 homer power reminds me of Mark Grace. I'd take that from Almora anyday.

  • In reply to Joshnk24:

    I'm jealous. I'll miss ST this year because of other plans. You will see Soler, Baez, Alcantara, Villanueva, Olt, and maybe Almora. Almora had a little less experience than Baez did for ST last year, so that's a close call.

  • I don't know if this was mentioned but he is an ideal #2 hitter. A lot of contact and he loves to hit the ball to right and right center. He seems like a real team player, I can totally see him bunting and giving himself up to move runners along. A current version of Glenn Beckert, sorry showing my age.

  • In reply to ruby2626:

    Haha, I just missed Glenn Beckert. I started watching in the mid 70s (Bill Madlock was my favorite player as a 6 and 7 year old). I think he can be a good #2 hitter for a lot of reasons, even as a new school type #2 which is more like the old school #3. In the end, I think Almora is going to be a player that's worth more than the sum of his parts.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Interesting - was reading that stat line and thinking of the guy who was my favorite Cubs player back in my 6-9 year period.

    Jose Cardinal. He had several years where he had 10+ HR, 60-70 RBI, 70-90 runs scored, OBP over 0.350 and a BA over 0.290. Defensively, Jose was not quite so hot as it appears Almora will be, and Jose was mostly a RF during that time, and Jose stole more bases,....

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I really liked Cardinal too. I think he and Madlock were two of my favorites. I also liked Jerry Morales because of his basket cstches. I would do it whenever my little league coach put me in CF, though that caused me to run a few laps, so I stopped doing it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Was generally a bench warmer my one season in LL. Mostly just shagged flies in practice, played some warm-up catch, and then rode the pines during games.

    Caught a few innings here & there. I wasn't scared of getting hit by foul tips and my depth perception stunk (iffy eyesight even then) bad enough that I wasn't much good at catching flies.

    Since then have remained a fan, but not really a player outside of a couple of college softball leagues.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I could catch the ball well and make contact, but it wasn't very hard contact. I was slappy. On the other hand, I could draw a walk like nobody's business.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I understand all the childhood sentimentalities, but the '74 thru '80 Cubs were tread-water teams with no chance of achieving anything meaningful. Not one winning season. Wins: 66, 75, 75, 81, 79, 80, 64. We had way too many bad players. But, also, our best guys were flawed. Madlock was still quite bad defensively. Monday was horrible at making contact. Morales took laughable baby steps in the OF. Martin's best role was lefty-bash platooner. Buckner couldn't run. Kingman behaved in his terrific '79, but was mostly not worth the bother. Cardenal (not Cardinal) was a good player, but no more than that. We got little in return for the '67-73 core guys because we waited too long to turn over that team. We finally had something to get excited about when the Trib bought the team in '81 and brought in Dallas Green. '74 thru '80 was the last of the pathetic P. K. Wrigley era. These were the W. Lockman, J. Marshall, H Franks years. With that sad, little loser Cub logo. Hey, I get the warm feelings. I loved my '50s Cubs as a kid, and they were even worse. But someone had to point out that the '70s were yet another hopeless time for our Cubs.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think you and I must be about the same age. I was eight when my favorite player, Rick Monday, had his breakout season in 1976, which was also Madlock's second batting title. I couldn't believe they traded their two best offensive players away in the same off-season.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Pretty close. I turned 7 that season. Rick Monday was my cousin's favorite player. Personally, I knew my limitations early as a ballplayer and fancied myself as the next Davey Rosello, but obviously I didn't even meet those very modest expectations as a ballplayer..

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I was 6 when I started collecting baseball cards and really getting into the Cubs. That was 1975 and my favorite player was also Bill Madlock. Rick Monday was my brother's favorite player. Eerie similarities.

    When Buckner came along, that's who I wanted to be like. I could crush a wiffle ball from his batting stance...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    My sister had a crush on Billy Buck. She dug a good mustache back then. It was still the 70s after all.

    I liked Buckner too but then became a big Leon Durham fan. A good friend was a diehard Buckner fan, though. I always remember my friend giving me grief when Durham let one through his legs in the 1984 playoffs. "Buckner would have never done that!", he said.

    Of course, we all know what happened two years later.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Buckner used to live at
    555 W Belden ( belden & Geneva)
    I used to go bug him for autographs
    as a little kid 83 & 84

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    I've always wanted to meet Buckner so that I could tell him I was sleeping with his mega-hot girlfriend when he was on the road. She was a dead ringer for then-supermodel Lauren Hutton, but without the trademark front-teeth gap. I think he'd laugh his behind off.

  • Ahh, its articles like this (and a glass of 16 year Lagavulin) that keep me warm in this weather. I was hoping that John would project him in the leadoff spot where his value would be multiplied (think Jeter again) but I can live with a good # 2 hitter that turns on the ball every now and then. I have fond memories of good ole Glenn Beckert but he topped out at about 2 HR a year, which is about 1 HR more than the leadoff man, Kessinger.

  • In reply to JimmyLeeMcMath:

    Thanks. I think he'll hit for more power than Beckett.

    Lagavulin is a nice choice, especially in this kind of weather.

  • Can you imagine a top of the lineup with Trea Turner and Albert Almora setting the table. If not Turner, I can settle for Alcantara - Almora. Either way Bryant / Rizzo / Baez should have plent of rbi opportunities.

  • Turner is an intriguing possibility, especially if the top 3 college pitchers are off the board, which is possible.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    From your article on the upcoming draft I thought there were 4 top college pitchers. Rodon, Hoffman, Newcombe, and Beede

  • In reply to John57:

    I like Newcombe, but I wouldn't put him as a top 4 guy yet. He can easily get there.

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    I keep thinking of Shane Victorino as a comp, especially with that contact rate, defense, OBP, BB%, power, pitch recognition, etc. Eerily similar... Almora is probably even more advanced than Victorino was at age 20...

    Shane probably has more base stealing abilities, but I think we'd take 6 years of a slightly slower Victorino and like it.

    Check out Victorino's age 20 season in the minors... http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=victor001sha

  • In reply to Phil James:

    I would take something like that, especially since the offensive production is more meaningful with great CF defense. Victorino was a decent defender early, but he played a lot of LF and RF.

  • I loved Madlock and Morales too, and maybe Almora settles in somewhere between the two. Now if we could just find the next Rick Reuschel.

  • In reply to JerryMartin28:

    Could always use another Bruce Sutter too. Bring back the 2 inning closer!

  • In reply to JerryMartin28:

    Please, let Almora be anything close to the 75/76 Madlock. Didnt he hit like .353 one of those years-and he stole 32 bases with the Giants/Pirates in 1979. What a player. Id love for Almora to be a .300/475/800 type hitter with gold glove defense.

  • John, Thanks for the great article. Of all the prospects, Almora is my favorite. Not great but steady. Great defense which translates into wins and make pitchers look better. Someone who thinks team and wins above individual stats. Just wants to win. I also saw him in Kane County and was very impressed. He just looks like a good ballplayer and you can see that he was the best all around player on the field. Not great in anyone area but all around. I envision a .300 hitter with great CF defense. I will take that for 6-8 years

  • In reply to cubbybear7753:

    I think he's my favorite too -- and that's saying a lot because I really like a lot of these guys for a change.

    As I've grown older I really am beginning to like those heady ballplayers who know the game to go with their physical skills.

  • In reply to cubbybear7753:

    I'd disagree only in that I think his defense looks absolutely great/elite. The way he glides around the outfield makes his catching a can-of-corn a jaw dropping display of grace and elegance (too much?). Reminds me of Andrew Jones minus being a hot dog.

  • With the likes of Baez, Bryant and Soler along with the toils of Castro and Rizzo and quite possibly, hopefully, Tanaka, there won't be a lot of pressure on Almora as he is the furthest away and will not have the eye popping stats of some of the others.

    Would have to think he is up here no sooner than 2016 at the earliest or 2017. But will be fun to see how he develops.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Irwin, I think we will see Almora in 2015 (if he continues
    his progress) If we dont see Almora until 2017 then he
    is probably a bust. Besides we dont have a centerfielder
    so I think they will give Lake a year plus to see what he
    can do (I dont think Lake is a CF) then we will see Almora.

  • You guys beat me to the punch with mentioning Madlock, but I'm wondering how Almora's bat compares to Madlock's. From your description, it sounds very similar, especially the comment, "he stings the ball", just like Madlock. And, btw, I was at a game in Wrigley when Morales put one on the catwalk in left. He had a great swing. You know who else loved him? All the girls. LOL!

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    My most vivid memory of Jerry Morales was of him holding court at a Lincoln Park jazz club around 1978 or so as the place was closing about 5 am and all the other customer had already left. I always liked the guy so that's all I'll say about him. One of the coaches always called him a "professional hitter".

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Steve Stone loves to make the point that past Cubs managements stupidly acquired players who'd have a proclivity for the Chicago night life. Chicago is the greatest city in the world, but even more so for young big-leaguers with money in their pockets, and too little discipline. Stone as a Cub had firsthand knowledge. Theo/Jed have to consider this factor. It's derailed more players than we'll ever know about. I've personally seen more than a few succumbing too much and too often.

  • John, after standing next to Almora a couple of times at those Kane County autograph sessions on Sunday, I think he still has a lot of filling in to do physically but his frame his huge. A 6'2", he does have a big frame with room to fill in and bulk up some, but the biggest surprise is the size of his feet. He had to have a shoe size of 14-15. He could grow another inch or two with feet that big.

  • After reading the various articles on Almora and seeing the comments here, another comparison comes to mind-Derek Jeter. Besides both being # 6 overall picks in their respective drafts(Jeter in 92', Almora 20 years later), both guys seem to have similar makeup and qualities for their particular positions. Excellent strikeout to walk ratios, power potential in the teens to low 20's, excellent gloves-based on at least early reviews-if the Cubs are able to build the level of sustained excellence they are seeking-don't be surprised to see Almora playing a similar role to the one Jeter played with the Yankees over the next 10-15 years in terms of role modeling, dependability, intrinsic characteristics and stability in the clubhouse.

  • I see a strong comparison to a Moises Alou type of a player. Maybe with not as much power. I still see Baez as being ahead of the curve among all of the other prospects and it is realistic to see him up first and as early as June. Players like Baez, Bryant , Almora and Soler will get their real development in the big leagues.

  • Thank you for a nice article. I also remember seeing Almora at a Kane County Cougar game last summer and you can definitely see a potential great star. I remember telling my friend at the game that Almora is going to be a special major league player someday.

  • In reply to GeofromLombard:

    You're welcome and thank you. It seems like you can just tell with some players. Almora is one of them.

  • So sometime in 2015, it is possible that Baez, Bryant, and Almora at some time arrive in Wrigley. Soler will be at least a year behind I think. If Rizzo and Castro can get back on track, that would be 5 young draft players and 1 trade player who will be fulfilling 8 positions. The other might be Castillo at catcher. That leaves one hole left. It could be Lake, it could be Alcantara, it could be Olt. It might be a big left-handed signing, but that could probably only be as a 2B or LF if players were moved around.

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