Albert Almora CubsSahadev Sharma recently had the opportunity to hit up Arizona, which means Arizona Fall League baseball, which means top Chicago Cubs prospects.

On his trip, he had occasion to talk to center field prospect Albert Almora about all manner of things, and you will want to read those things. An example quote to give you the vapors:

“To be honest, I’m confident in my game,” Almora told Sharma. “I’m not trying to sound cocky or arrogant here, but it’s the same game, the pitchers are just smarter. They throw a little harder than what I’m used to seeing, but after a week of 98 (mph) every day … I’m not saying it’s easy, but you see it better. As a player, I might be 19, but I’m ready, I’m ready to play against all these guys. Age is nothing but a number. I feel like I’m capable of playing and my baseball IQ is the same as these guys’.”

Not a damn thing wrong with confidence. Hell, it probably helps Almora play up. Now we’ll all just look for him to prove it next year, and hopefully stay healthy for the duration.

It remains to be seen what Almora’s progression will be, or even where he’ll start out the 2014 season. High-A Daytona seems a fair bet, and Almora may stay there the whole season, given that he doesn’t even turn 20 until April.

Read Sahadev’s piece.

  • SenorGato

    Almora makes me think of crazy comparisons to Derek Jeter and other ridiculous things. It’s probably insane that I think this guy is as good as I think he is.

    • In Theo We Trust

      I have been saying that ever since they got…Derek Jeter in center field. Not gonna jump out at yah, but a winner and brings it out in people…I hope.

  • TWC

    Sahadev’s piece on Almora was a good read. I hope the kid has a hamate- and hemeroid-free season, and can live up to his own standards.

    • hansman

      Well, we know that one of his hands will have a hamate free season.

      • TWC

        Way to jinx it, Joe.

    • DarthHater

      George Brett also had hemorrhoids. So, there’s that.

      • TWC

        Guy forgets his Preparation H *one* day, gets a little upset, and no one ever lets him forget it…


  • jh03

    I love his attitude. Love it.

  • Jono

    I love that he specifically talks about winning the world series. Not if, when.

  • Jason

    Great attitude. This kid gets it. I think Castro could learn a thing or two from him.

  • On The Farm

    He made the price of admission to Kane county games worth it alone. Get this kid to Wrigley.

  • Cub Fan Dan

    Love the confidence he exudes. Great piece by Sahadev. Another good read is John Arguello’s piece comparing Almora to Jonathan Toews…

  • Blackhawks1963

    In my opinion Almora has the greatest potential of all of our “elite” positional prospects to have the best and most productive major league career. By no means is that a knock on the future of Bryant, Baez, Alcantara, Soler.

    Almora seems like he’s going to be a real good ballplayer for a long time in the majors.

    • Noah_I

      I wouldn’t agree with that statement because, in comparison to Bryant and Baez especially, Almora doesn’t have the power potential. If all goes right, he probably tops out as a 20 HR guy. With that said, even if he’s only a 10-15 HR player, a center fielder who gets on base and is an elite defender is very, very valuable. Just not as valuable as a prospect who could spend the better part of a decade hitting 35-40 bombs a year with a similar OBP.

  • Aaron

    “He brings that extra added excitement to the lineup and the guys just feed off him,” Cougars manager Mark Johnson said. “His ability, the way he goes about his business, the way he plays defense, his at-bats, he’s picked the team up when we needed a little push.”

    This is very exciting to read. Albert Almora is the kind of player the Cubs need in the field and in the dugout to win alot of games and eventually a World Series Championship!

  • itzscott

    My perception of Almora equaltes to Carlos Beltran, Baez obviously to Gary Sheffield and Bryant to Dave Kingman.

    Not a bad trio to have in a lineup going forward I’d say.

    Soler remains a mystery comp to me…. I can’t draw a bead on this guy yet.

    • hansman

      Almora will never have Beltran’s power. His best comp is probably Jacoby Ellsbury without the SB.

      • JB88

        Almora still reminds me a lot of Bernie Williams.

      • louis

        Carlos Gonzalez is a better comp imo

      • Norm

        Kirby Puckett.

        • TWC

          That would be awesome.

      • LWeb23

        I like a Johnny Damon comp..

        2004: 20HR, 19 SB, .304/.380/.477, 10.8% BB, .93 SO/BB.

        That’s what I see for the 3-4 years of his prime.

      • Jose’s Eyelid

        A more offensive Garry Maddox, though fewer stolen bases.

      • BWA

        Jim Edmonds with a little less pop.

    • dAn

      I don’t think Kingman is a good comp for Bryant, because Bryant isn’t an all-or-nothing guy who won’t hit for average, and he’ll also walk more (and strikeout less) than Kingman. Bryant could really be a monster–it’s tough to really put a limit on what he could do offensively. I expect him to be one of the great hitters of his generation, with monstrous power. Jim Rice is probably a decent comp (offensively) for Bryant (thinking of guys from Kingman’s generation). Bryant is a guy who could possibly lead the league in HRs regularly and flirt with 300 in the process, if he pans out.

      I also don’t like the Sheffield/Baez comp, because the prolific walks were an important component of Shef’s value, and that’s a weapon that Baez won’t have. The two players have the same bat speed, but they’re not going to put up the same numbers. By far, the best comps for Baez–as a hitter–would be two ex-Cubs, Dawson and Soriano: they were both power/speed guys with prodigious HR totals but bad K/W ratios. Of course, Baez is an infielder, so he could conceivably have more overall value than those guys if he sticks at short, but Sori started out in the infield, too–and there’s also the chance that Baez flames out and instead becomes the next Jose Hernandez–a below average defensive shortstop with above average power who destroys LHP but strikes out too much, struggles against RHP, and is a poor percentage player. IMO, it’s more likely Baez hits like Sori than like Hernandez, though.

      Ken Griffey Sr. is a good comp for Almora (offensively)–a CFer who hits 300 and has some solid pop but doesn’t walk or strikeout much. There’s a chance, though, that Almora could emerge as something more than that and have a bat along the lines of a George Brett (but with a lot more defensive value. It’s not likely he will have Brett’s bat, but I don’t think we can rule it out entirely, either.

      Tough to think of an precise comp for Soler–in part because he hasn’t done that much yet as a pro, and in part because his exact combination of strengths and weaknesses is not all that common. Best comp I can think of for if he pans out would be Moises Alou (but with better defense): a decent RBI guy with good not great power, who has a decent walk rate and doesn’t K a ton, and is an above average baserunner in his early years. However, Soler IMO has the smallest chance of the four of reaching his ceiling–in part because he already has the guaranteed money, and in part because he hasn’t yet done anything truly special with the bat as a pro. He has been good–don’t get me wrong–but he hasn’t yet done the kinds of things in MiLB that guys who end up being stars typically do. Some fans make excuses for Soler, saying he missed development time coming from Cuba, etc., but you could say the same things for Puig, too.

      If two of these four guys reach their ceilings, it’s a huge win for the Cubs.

      • ari gold

        Are you sure that Bryant will strike-out less than Kingman? Because nothing he’s done so far indicates he’s less than 175 strike-out a year player. He’s got a ton of power, but the swing and miss is absolutely real thus far. I honestly think that for a player of the year and #2 draft pick, his SO rate is rather alarming.

        • ssckelley

          His SO rate was 25% in the minors, it is up to 30% in the AFL. If you look at his college stats he struck out at those rates as a freshman and got better each year. So far today he is 2 out of 3 with a walk and a SO, I would take that any day. No, I do not believe Bryant is the next coming of Kong. I think his SO percentage will improve as he gets used to using wooden bats and his walk rate is already encouraging (something Kong was not known for). If he ends up hitting .900 or higher OPS will we really care if he strikes out 150 times?

  • DavidC

    Seriously doubt Almora stays in Daytona all year. He’s handling AA pitching very well right now. He handled Midwest pitching very easily and the jump to the FSL shouldn’t be too extreme. He was considered extremely polished when drafted, so I’d think by the middle of 2014, at the latest, he should be able to handle AA pitching pretty well. I’d guess half a season at Daytona, half a season at AA, or something pretty similar to Baez’s route in 2013.

    • terencemann

      That sounds like a reasonable expectation to me. That would put him on a similar timeline to the majors as Baez in terms of their individual paths to the majors. I’d be stunned if he played in the majors this season. The only reason to race a guy like him to the majors would be if the Cubs were in a playoff hunt and had an injury at a key position and he was raking in AA.

      Maybe things would be different if he and Soler hadn’t been injured this season?

  • Cizzle

    You know what really grinds my gears? When I read a Sahadev article on ESPN and Jessie Rogers Mug shot is in the “About this Blog” section.

  • RD

    Watched the AFL game last night and I was really impressed with Alomra. He looked extremely comfortable on both sides of the ball. I can definitely see him as a guy that hits for a high average and strikes out at a low clip. I think he was down 2 strikes in 3 out of 4 of his ABs and he had no trouble fighting off tough pitches and putting them in play eventually. All of his plays in CF were routine but he looked very comfortable reading balls hit to him.

    Soler looked a little shaky as he was chasing some pitches and it really didn’t look like he was running to well as he looked a little gimpy running down the line. When he struck out, the ball got far enough away from the catcher to at least make the catcher throw to first base but it was easy to tell it didn’t even cross his mind. He either didn’t feel like it or his leg isn’t 100% and it isn’t worth it. He is a large man though and I am excited to see both of these kids at 100% health.

  • #1lahairfan

    I think you guys might be overestimating Almora’s pop and speed by a bit here.

  • John

    Almora’s swing and demeanor looks to me like Ryan Braun. I know his size and abilities are different but he looks very confident and he just looks like a big leaguer!

    • someday…2015?

      That was my initial comp for Almora. He just doesn’t have the power to be compared favorably to Braun. Think more Adam Jones with ++leadership.

    • Cubbie Blues

      You are dead to me.


    • Funn Dave

      Minus the ‘roids.

  • 8800

    Why don’t they just start putting these guys in the majors now? It seems like to “prospect” tag is on all of these guys for an extremely long time. Put them in the league and see how they do. I know there is the contractual rights over a player starts at different times, and the development thing…but my God lets get them out there when they are confidant, young, and not tainted with the loveable looser tag. Bryce Harper was 19 or 20, Griffy 2 was 19 and I am sure many others.

    • On The Farm

      Yeah lets pick the kid who left high school a year early to be able to go pro and a HOFer as our examples as to why prospects should be in the majors. Good grief.

    • bbmoney

      They aren’t ready yet. There aren’t many guys who can handle the show at 19 or 20. It most likely would hurt their development and kill their confidence because they’d be terrible.

  • 8800

    Mike trout
    Pudge Rodriguez
    A Rod
    Adrian Beltre
    Jose Fernandez
    Starlin Castro
    Manny Machado

    Were any of these guys ready?

    • bbmoney

      Naming 7 prospects over the past 15 or 20 years doesn’t really help your argument. You could name 50 it still wouldn’t help.

      It’d be a tiny percentage of the players who’ve graduated and been very good in the MLB. More importantly, other players being ready at 19 or 20 has nothing to do with when or at what ages theses specific prospects are ready.

  • 8800

    It seems that the Cubs are VERY conservative as to when to bring a guy up. More emphasis on the control over the player rather than actual ability. Put Barney on the bench, move castro, and Bryant and Baez on the left side. See what happens. The Cubs are going to struggle again next year, let these guys get some big league experience and we all me be surprised.