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: