Let’s get this out of the way first, Albert Almora will turn 20 years old this April and will not win a job this spring training. However, Almora has done nothing but hit since putting on a Chicago Cubs uniform after being picked sixth overall in the 2012 MLB Draft. Almora does everything well and his makeup and maturity allow him to maximize every last ounce of his ability. On the 20-80 scale, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo gives Almora an 80 for makeup, a grade that is rarely given out. Almora also receives a plus-plus grade for his defense in center field (70), a plus grade for his hit tool (65) and an above average grade for his power (55).
Drafted out of high school, Almora was initially sent to the Arizona Rookie league where he hit .347/.363/.480 in his first 80 plate appearances before being promoted to Low-A Boise. His combined numbers for 2012 resulted in a line of .321/.331/.464 in 145 plate appearances. Almora was promoted to Single-A Kane County in 2013 and all he did was improve across the board. While he missed some time due to injury, Almora finished the year with a line of .329/.376/.466 in 272 plate appearances.
According to Baseball America, “As gifted as he is offensively, scouts rave even more about Almora’s defense.” Almora features a strong, accurate arm and incredible instincts in center field. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Almora could step up to the major leagues and hold his own, but the Cubs will need him to get a little more seasoning in the minors before he receives that promotion. During spring training, Almora will get to face big league pitchers and it will be interesting to see how well he performs against more advanced competition.
If the Cubs are aggressive, Almora could begin the year at Double-A Tennessee. If he hits the way he always has and plays his typically excellent defense, there is a chance Almora could receive a September call-up. While Cubs fans won’t be able to truly start dreaming about Almora playing games at Wrigley Field until 2015, the first glimpse of the future will be on display at Spring Training 2014.