Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

albert almora cubsOn the whole, Albert Almora, Jr. has had a decent year. His slash line is a little lackluster (more on that in a minute), but in most of the areas of concern he has made some significant improvements compared to his time in Double A last year.

The most notable is his walk rate. Last he walked just 1.4% of the time in Tennessee. This year that rate is 6.0%. Last year he struck out at a (very good) rate of 16.0%. This year? 10.1%. Last year he attempted just one stolen base, and he got caught. He has four so far this year, and hasn’t gotten caught once.

Unfortunately, his line still reads just .246/.293/.344. For a guy with a good walk rate and a very good strikeout rate, those are surprisingly low numbers. So what’s the problem?

In part, ISO. In 2014 Almora posted an unremarkable ISO(lated) power figure of .121. This year that is down to .098. That is not good.

Fortunately, it may already be changing. Almora’s ISO in June is .126.

The biggest difference, though, will come from continued improvements in his approach at the plate. When he is ahead in the account his OPS is an excellent .895, but that falls clear down to .483 when he falls behind. More experience and continued work on his two strike approach should help raise that second number substantially. And given that he is just 21 and already has almost 100 games in Double A, he has plenty of time to make those refinements.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – The Cubs took an early lead, but lost 6-4.
Tennessee – The Smokies had the day off.
Myrtle Beach – The Pelicans were on their way to another loss, but then the bats finally woke up. They scored eight unanswered to win this one 8-4.
South Bend – A late rally came up short as the Cubs lost 5-4.
Eugene – The Emeralds never trailed in this 9-4 win.
Arizona – The Cubs needed just six hits in this 9-8 win.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] The Cubs had three doubles in this game, one each from Kyle Schwarber (1 for 3), Christian Villanueva (1 for 4), and Chris Valaika (1 for 3).
  • [Iowa] John Andreoli didn’t settle for a double. He hit his 4th triple of the year.
  • [Myrtle Beach] While the offense was making a comeback, the bullpen was posting zeroes. Josh Conway pitched 2 innings and allowed nothing but a walk while striking out one. Michael Heesch gave up absolutely nothing in his 2 innings, striking out 3.
  • [Myrtle Beach] Jeremy Null made his High A debut with 5 innings of work. He allowed 4 runs on 7 hits while striking out 2.
  • [Myrtle Beach] Jeimer Candelario finished the day 4 for 4.
  • [Myrtle Beach] Victor Caratini and Mark Zagunis, with a double each, provided the extra base hits.
  • [South Bend] Charcer Burks put together a 3 hit day for the Cubs, as did Jesse Hodges (who also doubled).
  • [South Bend] Gleyber Torres doubled and finished 2 for 5. Kevin Encarnacion was also 2 for 5.
  • [Eugene] Donnie Dewees doubled 3 times. He also stole his first base of the year.
  • [Eugene] Eloy Jimenez launched his first homer of the season and finished 2 for 4.
  • [Eugene] Carson Sands allowed a run on 3 hits over 5 innings while striking out 4.
  • [Eugene] Dave Berg made his professional debut. He struck out 2 while recording the final 4 outs and giving up nothing.
  • [Arizona] Robert Garcia finished 2 for 5 with his 2nd triple. Andruw Monasterio also had 2 hits.
  • [Arizona] Jose Paniagua launched his first home run of the season.

Other News

  • Eugene will in be Hillsboro today, and that means you finally have a chance to see them in action on There will not be many chances like this, so take advantage if you can.

  • If you were concerned by the lower than ideal rankings of the players the Cubs are projected to sign when the International Free Agency window opens tomorrow, and I know many of you were, I would invite you to consider something. Every year in the Prospect Handbook (published in January) Baseball America ranks the high school and college players for the upcoming draft. These are player who play in the United States where there is a wealth of available data, not to mention players who are between two and five years older than most of the IFA prospects who can sign tomorrow. If anything, these pre-season Baseball America rankings should be much more accurate than the IFA rankings.
  • In the 2012 handbook, Addison Russell was ranked 19th among high schoolers. Kris Bryant was ranked number six among college players in 2013, and that same year Billy McKinney was 38th among high schoolers. Kyle Schwarber was the 16th best college player in the handbook in 2014. A few college names we were watching during the 2015 draft (with rankings) included Carson Fulmer (10), Tyler Jay (20), Dillon Tate (21), Andrew Benintendi (97), and Ian Happ (12).
  • I’m not saying rankings are a bad thing, I write some of them myself after all, but there is a limit to how much stock we should put in them, and the younger the player the lesser the stock. Personally, despite what the rankings say, I like the group of players the Cubs are projected to sign, and I remain cautiously optimistic they can find a way to snipe one or more of the high ceiling Cuban defectors away from the Dodgers and their endless fount of money.

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