albert almora cubsIt was a routine groundout to third base on the second pitch he saw, but yesterday’s MLB debut for Albert Almora was the culmination of a process that began when he was a little kid, continued through this Cubs front office’s first draft – Almora was the very first player they selected – and saw Almora work his way up steadily through every level of the farm system.

Although the circumstances of Almora’s arrival – i.e., the Jorge Soler injury – certainly muted the enthusiasm we might have otherwise had yesterday, it was still very cool to see this young man (still just 22) arriving in the big leagues after years of following his progress so closely.

It’s also touching to read about Almora getting to call his parents and break the news to them, including to his father who is currently undergoing treatment for prostate cancer (Cubs.com). The moment of Almora’s arrival in the big leagues was as much for his father as it was for the player, himself, I’m sure.





It remains to be seen exactly how Almora will be used, though it’s a fair bet that he’ll start in left field against lefties, and will be a late-game sub for the most part otherwise. He’ll be rotated in periodically for a start against righties – like he is today – but it’s worth remembering that, even with Jorge Soler out, the Cubs have Javy Baez and Tommy La Stella available to be worked into the lineup now on a regular basis. Which is not a bad thing.

It also remains to be seen exactly how long Almora will be with the big league team, though the default answer until something else changes on the roster will be “until Jorge Soler returns.” That could be quite a bit more than two weeks, which means the Cubs will have to work out that balance of getting Almora the developmental experience he needs at this important stage in his career, while also utilizing their roster in the best possible way to get wins during this stretch. It’s tough to do on a playoff-aspiring team, but the Cubs have effectively been pulling it off so far with guys like Soler and Baez, at least as near as I can tell.

Remember: getting every day starts in AAA is a good thing for development, but so is getting periodic starts and coaching at the big league level. Nothing can prepare a player for what it’s like to actually work and live in the big leagues except being there. That, alone, is valuable experience for Almora. He’ll quickly see, in even more stark contrast, the things he needs to do to his game to thrive at the big league level going forward.



The glove will be legit, as will the effort. Fans should not be expecting too much from the bat right out of the gate, as, although he was hitting .318/.335/.444 at AAA, it’s fair to expect the .351 BABIP to come down thanks to better pitching (more weak contact) and better defense, to expect the strikeout rate (12.8%) to increase a bit, and the power (.126 ISO) to come down a bit, too. Add all that up, and the slash line actually starts to look potentially ugly.

But, again, getting a big offensive boost from Almora is not what this move is about right now. Almora can fill a rotational need for the Cubs while also getting himself some valuable experience for the future. I think the bat will become useful in the big leagues eventually, even if it doesn’t happen this season. (And, hey, if it does happen this season, all the groovier.)

More on Almora’s arrival in this ESPN piece, with plenty of quotes, and also some more fun:




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