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Prospect Note: Albert Almora, OF, Cubs

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You, yes, you....stand still laddie
You, yes, you....stand still laddie

Chicago Cubs outfield prospect Albert Almora broke his hamate yesterday and will be out at least a few weeks. Here is what I wrote about him in the 2013 Baseball Prospect Book, plus some additional thoughts.

Alberto Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-1 WT: 170 DOB: April 16, 1994

Almora was drafted in the first round last year, sixth overall, out of high school in Hialeah Gardens, Florida. The Cubs gave him a $3,900,000 bonus, considerably over the $3,250,000 slot value, to keep him away from college at the University of Miami. Scouts love this guy, and it isn't hard to see why. He has a good swing. He has solid power. He has above-average running speed, and he knows how to use it. He has a solid throwing arm. He has center field outfield range. His instincts, especially on defense, are considered outstanding and help all of his tools play up. His makeup is considered outstanding. He thrived against good competition in high school and shines on a big stage.

Almora isn't perfect: his strike zone judgment turned out to be worse than expected in pro ball, with an unacceptably low walk rate (two walks, 13 strikeouts in 145 plate appearances). It didn't harm his performance (he hit .321/.331/.464 between rookie ball and Boise in the Northwest League), but it could be an issue at higher levels without some adjustments. Scouts don't have many concerns about that, believing that Almora's drive to succeed will help him fix any flaws in his approach. Grade B+.

The hamate thing puts his timetable back of course, but whether that is weeks or months isn't clear yet. As most people know, hamate breaks often sap power production even after the injury "heals," although this is usually a temporary effect. Even if we see a power reduction in the short run when he comes back, I would not worry about it impacting Almora's abilities long-term.

The plate discipline thing may be a bigger deal, but 1) he is young enough to fix that, 2) rookie ball stats and small samples can be deceptive; 3) sources who saw him a lot as an amateur are not worried about his pitch recognition and feel that he will make any necessary adjustments as he moves up. His makeup is extremely well-regarded, which helps a lot.