I got to lay eyes on the Cubs’ 2012 1st round draft pick and top-3 organizational prospect Albert Almora for the first time this weekend in a four game series against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Almora had started the season on the shelf with a broken hamate bone, delaying the arrival of one of the biggest draws at Kane County this season and raising concerns over how he would hit after sustaining a wrist injury.
Albert Almora has quickly put to rest any lingering worries about his bat would respond, as he is hitting .455/.510/.591 with 6 doubles through 11 games. In person Almora looks every bit of the 6th overall pick that he was, playing the game hard, adjusting well to offspeed pitches, playing and carrying himself with a general swagger and confidence that I have only seen out of Carlos Correa this season. He makes solid contact on everything he hits, from foul balls to liners in the gap. He just has a knack for putting the barrel on the ball.
The somewhat low walk rate is almost certainly a product of facing competition that cannot challenge him. He’s laying off close pitches out of the zone, and making very solid contact with pitches in the zone. I have seen him face three decent pitchers this weekend, and none of them offered anything they could get past Almora. I will update these thoughts once I see him face an elite pitching prospect, but until then, I can only say that he sure does look comfortable in the batter’s box.
While I have loved Almora at the plate, there are a few small nit-picky things I would like to touch on:
- When a prospect’s feel for the game is touted more often than his tools, red flags go flying up for me. And when you watch Almora play, you can see the lack of loud tools quite clearly. While he is a strong defender with a good arm, good bat, and the body to add power, nothing he does screams superstar at you. And without that one crazy tool, Almora’s margins of error are smaller than a player with big raw power or blazing speed. And I’ve already witnessed his tools coming up short…
- …on the basepaths. I’ve seen Almora get caught stealing twice in three games (thrice if you include the horribly missed call at 3rd base), and in each instance he has gotten a poor jump. It’s not exactly difficult to steal bases in the low minors, and it was frustrating to watch Almora get thrown out on average throws from the catcher. I’d have high hopes for repetition and coaching greatly increasing his base-stealing skills, but…
- …Almora doesn’t look very fast. He looks slow on stolen base attempts as he doesn’t reach top speed quickly. He’s been slow out of the box, and I’ve clocked him from 4.35-4.45 seconds home-to-first, a below average time.
If you’re thinking that those are minor issues for Almora, you’re right.
I’m pretty impressed with what I saw out of him this weekend, and those issues do not call any questions about his future in my head.