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Last night, the Chicago Cubs made Miami high school outfielder Albert Almora their top pick, selecting him sixth overall in the 2012 Draft. It was an expected pick, but also one that’s easy to get behind. Almora has above average tools across the board, is a hard worker, is smart, and has a very polished approach. He wasn’t just an acceptable pick at number six, he might genuinely have been the perfect guy for the Cubs.

We’ve talked about Almora a great deal over the last couple weeks, but, now that we know he’s the guy, it’s worth running down some more thoughts on the 18-year-old.

The reactions/scouting reports have been many, together with useful tidbits:

  • From Cubs’ Scouting Chief Jason McLeod: “If you look at the total package of Albert, he has the ability to no doubt play in the major leagues, but it’s also the makeup and work ethic, how he carries himself and the leadership he’s shown. It’s what we’re looking to do here with the Cubs – to bring in somebody that will be an impact player and to impact those around him …. It goes back to the evaluation of him as a player on the ability, but even more on the makeup side. He’s driven to succeed and be the best. We feel that in this market there is something to the whole ‘Theo Epstein first draft’ and our first draft. But that will subside quickly and it will be about him and what he does for this franchise moving forward. We feel he will handle it well because of who he is and what it means to him to be great.”
  • McLeod noted that, while it was a nice surprise to have the option of taking someone like Mark Appel, Almora was the guy they wanted all along.
  • From Almora, himself: “I’m speechless. I don’t remember much of anything that happened tonight. I know that the Cubs drafted me, and I’m grateful, but I’m still kind of shocked and overwhelmed.”
  • Also from Almora, showing some confidence: “I believe in my ability. But I’m not going to lie. In my book, I was the No. 1 pick.”
  • Almora a huge “makeup” guy, the kind of kid Epstein/Hoyer/McLeod have shown a preference for over the years. What that means, in short: he’s a good kid who works really hard. He’s got a 4.1 GPA in high school, and he works out with his dad constantly.
  • Offensively, Almora’s upside is a .300 hitter with a good approach, 20 home run power, and average speed. He’s 6’2″ 180 lbs, so you can see how he could add a little muscle and, in turn, some power.
  • Almora’s defense in center field is said to be so good that some scouts believe he could be an average defensive center fielder in MLB *right now.* This is not a case of a kid being the best athlete on his team, so they just stash him in center field. Almora actually is a serious center field prospect.
  • Almora was the 7th youngest player taken in the first round (behind Carlos Correa, Lucas Giolito, Corey Seager, Lucas Sims, Stryker Trahan, and Lewis Brinson).
  • Almora has played for USA Baseball more than any other player in history.
  • Given that the Cubs were so publicly attached to Almora for so long, it would be fair to infer that other teams knew the Cubs were going to be selecting Almora. And if other teams knew the Cubs were going to be selecting Almora, it would be fair to infer that the Cubs and Almora’s “advisor” (now agent) Scott Boras have had preliminary discussions about getting a deal together. That could have the makings of a relatively quick signing, even though Boras is known to usually take his clients up to the deadline (this year, the signing deadline has moved up to July 13). A quick signing has a number of benefits, the most obvious of which is that the kid can start playing baseball right away if the organization wants (depends on how much the player has played already that year).
  • Obviously, last night, Almora wouldn’t say whether he expects to sign and/or for how much. But the Cubs’ slot amount there is $3.25 million, and I think that’s probably about what he gets (and is worth).
  • A couple videos of Almora from MLB.com, including a brief scouting report, and then a great profile piece that demonstrates Almora’s character and work ethic:

  • Mysterious4th

    Pretty stoked for this kid. Is there a chance he could be moved to right field down the road since we have our center fielder of the future (so they say)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The Cubs will let things play out when it comes to Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur, for example. The longer all three can stay at center field, the better. From the VERY EARLY sound of things, Almora may be the best center fielder of the three, but he’s also four/five years younger. No reason to worry about it yet. Just let Almora keep playing CF in the minors for the next several years, and we’ll see what happens when he’s ready.

    • djriz

      I think if both players play up to their potential, it’s Jackson who will move to a corner spot.
      That would be a pretty good 2/3rds of a defensive outfield.

      • chirogerg

        And if we got Soler, that would add another 1/3 of a good defensive OF

  • https://www.facebook.com/chris.siuty Chris84

    I was sold on this kid as soon as I saw the video clip on him during the MLB Network Draft Preview. Seems like a solid kid.

  • Kyle

    I’m still having trouble reconciling the quote that said he has “40 speed with 80 range” because of his jumps/routes in CF. That just seems crazybuckets to me.

    How’s this for an odd comp: Matt Murton who can play CF?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I suspect the scout was exaggerating.  50 speed with 70 range I can wrap my head around.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Sounds pretty fair, actually. Maybe not quite the hit tool, though? (As a prospect, I mean.)

      • Kyle

        He’s got the potential to reach Murton’s hit tool, I think. I saw at least one scouting report card that had him with a 70-hit ceiling.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          A Hit of 70 is what I’ve been seeing.  Opinion is split on his power, though.  I’ve seen everything from 40 to 60.

  • Jonski

    Good stuff…Like the pick!

  • Bails17

    He reminds me of Castro with his leg lift and his hands…gets to his fronts side very well and has great balance….daddy like!

    • Drew7

      I agree Bails, that swing looks great! Once that front leg lands everything is rotational, great balance, and quick hands.

      • chirogerg

        I disagree, I think he has a very good linear swing, not a rotational one

        • Drew7

          Not sure we’re on the same page. I’m referring to rotational hitting – once the front leg lands, weight stops shifting forward, and movement from then on is all centered around created separtation of the top and bottom halves, much like a rubber band around a pencil.

    • chirogerg

      His swing is modeled after Ryan Braun’s I think

  • Deer

    Boras is his agent? ah crap, the signing will go down to the last day most likely. I wonder if Szcur is future trade bait.

    • hansman1982

      100% of draft picks have 0% bearing on 100% of the players currently in the Cubs organization.

      • Wilbur

        Agree, with such long lag times between signing and any chance of knowing who they will become this has always been my take …

  • CubFan Paul

    I’m not sure I would of passed up Appel for Almora if the buzz word in the war room was “impact”. I like Almora A LOT but hopefully we draft some bonified polished college pitchers over the next couple days that can make it to Chicago in any capacity to help out soon

    • Kyle

      I don’t know if I’d call Appel an impact prospect either.

      He was the best college pitcher available in some people’s eyes, but many (most?) years he’d be further down the list.

      He’s got the tools, but he has a mysterious underperformance problem. A college pitcher with his stuff and polish should be missing a lot more bats than he is. Maybe the pros can fix that, but I don’t know if I am ready to pay a very large overslot signing bonus to find out.

      • CubFan Paul

        That’s probably what theo&Co were thinking

      • chirogerg

        Many scouts thought that Appel’s mysterious performance stemmed from the questionable pitch-calling by Stanford coaches

  • Sinnycal

    From what I’ve heard, Almora was the top player on their board and they would’ve taken him even with the #1 overall pick. As good as this FO’s draft track record is, have any of them ever gotten their overall favorite player in a draft? That’s a pretty exciting thought.

  • Rich

    Question: if money was not an issue and Appel had fallen to $ 6, would we have picked him?
    Do we not need pitching ? I am just wondering as it seems we have an awful lot of athletic outfielders in our system and pitching is very important to have.

    comments please

    • Kyle

      I honestly think the Cubs had their heart set on Almora or one or two other guys, Appel not among them, and would not have taken Appel over Almora if money were no object.

      There was at least one source that said the Cubs had Almora No. 1 on their draft board, and while that could just be draft hype, he does seem to fit their organizational approach.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think the Cubs would have been extremely tempted by Appel if money were no consideration.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        If money were no object, I don’t think Appel would have fallen past KC.

    • JungleDrew

      The buzz around the Cubs drafting seems to be Almora (obviously), Max Fried (who I still think was a better choice) or Correa. If somehow all of those 3 were off the board by the 6 pick we would have had all 3 college pitchers to choose from (assuming Zunino and Buxton would have been picked as well) I still don’t think Appel would have been the Cubs pick. We already tried to draft Zimmer in a previous draft and Gaussman is the better of the 3 so we would have taken one of those 2 guys. So it was nothing to so with money, he just wasn’t high on our list.

  • EB

    I love Albert Almora already. Great work ethic and seems to be a natural leader. He is the kind of guy that is very easy to root for

  • Ash

    Truly, I’m not fixated on how big this kid is, but MLB listed him @ 6’1 and 170. If he’s another inch and 10lbs heavier, I’m cool with that. They compared him to Adam Jones, which is also cool.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You see both 6’1 and 6’2″, and you see both 170 and 180. That 6’2″, 180 combo came from MLB.com, though. They may have two different measurements on their own site.

    • djriz

      His height is listed anywhere between 6’1 and 6’3, weight between 170-180. If you look at it, the three draft choices all could use a good sandwich. I guess they call that projectable?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Yup. Projectable.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Let all the talent we do have come along. Many things can happen along the way. One injury can end a career so it doesn’t pay to count the eggs until they hatch and grow up to be chickens. I think this kid will surpass anyone we have playing in the outfield in our system quickly. He has playing ball at a very high level for the past 4 years. He won’t sit in the minors for long. He’s not a pitcher so he doesn’t need to be held back for long. The way Jackson is floundering at AAA this year he may not even pan out. He could end up being a Patterson for all we know. There are no sure things.

  • Patrick

    Stance has an A-rod type of feel

  • Kyle

    I’ll say this since I’m going nuts saying positive things about the kid:

    I’m not in love with his bat speed. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been watching so much Baez video lately, but it looks pretty ordinary. Not terrible, but nothing special.

    • chirogerg

      bat speed is not the only thing that makes a good hitter: look at Castro, he doesn’t have great bat speed, but he sure can hit. I think Rizzo is the same way, I could be wrong about him though

  • Cub Gone Wild

    I would love to see more solid pitching drafted today and tomorrow. Take as many strong arms that already throw strikes as you can get. College sophomores should only be 2 years from the bigs if they come out of good programs. I think we sit on guys too long before deciding whether they have what it takes. We need to speed things up for our quality draft picks or it will be 2018 before we see any of these guys. Other org’s get their guys to the bigs much faster.

    • Drew7

      “I think we sit on guys too long before deciding whether they have what it takes”

      -You’re willing to make a judgement like that about a FO that’s been in charge for less than a year?

  • JulioZuleta

    Kiley McDaniel, ESPN’s #2 guy after Law (although in my opinion, he’s head and shoulders above that Harvard d-bag) was asked “In seven years, who will be the best player in this draft?” His response, “Give me Almora all day long”. He has a hhuuggee crush on Almora, giving him a Carlos Beltran comparison.

    http://espn.go.com/mlbdraft/draft2012/draftcast
    Click the link and Ctrl F “Almora”.

    • gabriel

      Kiley is more than in love with Almora – awesome to read doing the ctrl F thing lol!


      Kiley McDaniel:
      They could draft beer league players the rest of the way, Almora is enough for multiple drafts, scouts say he will likely solve time travel within the year and that’s conservative “

    • gabriel

      Comment From Chester Bennington
      How much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?
      11:43

      Kiley McDaniel:
      Almora

  • JulioZuleta

    On Johnson:
    Originally Posted by Keith Law
    Johnson was headed for certain first-round status before a forearm strain interrupted his spring, and while he returned to action and regained his stuff before the end of the season, the proximity of the forearm to the elbow casts a cloud over his draft status. When he’s right, it’s hard to argue with what comes out of his arm: 91-95 with a power curveball at 80-81 and a hard changeup at 80-83; he’ll even show a slider/cutter in the upper 80s.

    I’m not wild about Johnson’s delivery, however: He turns his elbow over very hard through release, putting a lot of pressure on it, and his stride is so long that he can’t finish out over his front side. Johnson apparently suffered no structural damage and his velocity had bounced back by mid-May. He’s a potential No. 2 starter if fully healthy, but the rotation of his elbow through release, combined with the history now of forearm strains, is a red flag for me.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jason Churchill
    Johnson was gaining steam until a minor injury put him on the sideline in the middle of his season, but he returned and pitched well. He offers 91-93 mph heat that grazes the mid-90s, and complements with a good changeup and breaking ball. This could be a real steal.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’ll also have more on Johnson and Blackburn later, but this is good stuff.

      • JulioZuleta

        Feel free to delete that and use the clips in the post to get it all in one place.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Nah. It’s good stuff, and I’m sure folks want to see it. Appreciate it (and I’ll definitely be using it in their piece).

    • Kyle

      I’m not remotely a scout, but when I saw video of his delivery, that way he puts a strain on his elbow in the release and follow-through was very obvious. It just looks really awkward. Hopefully it’s something our front office thinks they can fix with instruction.

      I’d say it’s 50/50 this kid has Tommy John in the next two years.

  • Spriggs

    I’m dreaming of a future OF of Jackson, Almora, and Solar. (to go with Castro, Baez, and Rizzo).

    • Njriv

      Word

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Yep, power hitting from both sides of the plate, and people that will hit for average. Isn’t that what we have been looking for, for a few years? Now all we need is a few pitchers in the organization, and we may be in business.

    • gabriel

      This…would be…..AWESOME….(drooling)……gah!

  • gocatsgo2003

    The comp I like a little better is Jacoby Ellsbury with less speed and maybe a slightly better feel for the game (as a prospect at least). Seems like everyone has the same comments on Albert’s makeup that were thrown about when Ellsbury was drafted. Hopefully Albert also doesn’t have Jacoby’s bad luck when it comes to major semi-fluke injuries.

    As such, Albert’s long-term projection is probably as a #2, #6, or #7 hitter with the bat control and ability to move runners along by hitting the holes in the infield defense while providing a little home run pop along the way as a bonus. With some speed guys coming up through the system or already arrived in the bigs (Campana, Jackson, and Szuzur come most immediately to mind), this kind of guy is perfect to provide some lineup protection and allow those guys to showcase their speed while keeping the defensive alignments honest. The only problem there would be finding room for all of them in the outfield rotation…

  • Leroy K.

    This kid sounds like a beast!!!

  • Lenny

    I don’t have a problem with the pick at all, I think it is a good pick. But for me, there are 3 players I will be keeping tabs on over the years.
    1. Mark Appel (Rumored to go #1, but then fell past Cubs on draft day).
    2. Mark Zunino (Player who I was hoping would fall to the Cubs, but never expected him to).
    3. Lucas Gioloto (Would have been #1 overall pick, but UCL injury scared teams away).

  • CBP

    For some reason I think he is a right handed Carlos Gonzalez. I will take that though!!!

    • DRock

      If he turns out to be a right handed Car-Gon, I think we will all be very pleased to say the least!

    • gabriel

      Wow actually way similar builds/makeup – LOVE this comp and just really hope he gets there

  • Johnny Mac

    U-S-A! U-S-A!

  • die hard

    Nice pick…best available etc….so where do they go from here?…given rep of his agent maybe offer to trade him and Dempster for a #1, #2 and #3 in next year’s draft?

    • TWC

      Hey, remember yesterday when you got called out for suggesting trading for draft picks and you got all snippety?  ‘Member?  Yeah?  Oh, no?

      Right.

  • Jzwizard

    That is all great to here. Having a 4.1 GPA and being an amazing athlete is pretty remarkable. You really have to be disciplined, motivated, and love the game to be able to focus like that and put all that time into 2 separate things. I have a really high GPA as well and it is something I am proud of and can appreciate someone that dedicated even though he knew he probably didn’t need to with his baseball skill alone.

    • Grumpy

      What is a 4.1 GPA? I thought 4.0 was perfect. I don’t know, maybe things have changed.

      • Njriv

        College GPA has 4 ranked the highest, high school’s GPA has 5 ranked the highest if you take regular level classes and 6 is the highest if you take AP classes.

        • JulioZuleta

          Most high school have a perfect GPA of 4, with the ability to go over if you get an A in AP courses. I’m assuming that’s the case for Almora.

          • calicubsfan007

            I believe Julio is correct with that, i think 6 is too high. One can get near a 5 with the AP classes, but not higher. My uber smart cousin just graduated with a 4.5 GPA, I think that was the GPA.

          • Njriv

            Possibly, I graduated high school last year and the way I described it was out ranking system, could be different.

      • Jzwizard

        My school had a 4.0 scale but taking an Honors or AP course added 1.0 to whatever your GPA was. So some classes you could get a 5.0 but other classes such as gym you could only get a 4.0. So a 4.1 GPA shows you did well in Honors classes as well as others.

  • KWAH-dee

    Boras…should have known. Too good to be true.

    “My main priority now is college,” Almora said Tuesday. “I just graduated high school and I have a full scholarship to the University of Miami, and that’s all I’m looking forward to right now.”

    Boras has this kid wrapped around his pinky. Good luck Theo. Not good…

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