What were you doing when you were 20 years old? Some of you might not be able to answer in a public forum, but Albert Almora is gearing up for his 4th year as a professional baseball player. That’s right, he’s only 20 years old, feels like he has been around forever. I also stopped short of saying “4th FULL year” as a pro because Almora has only really had one true full season. Injuries are the devil.
Injuries have held Almora back almost from the first day in the Cubs organization. Almora was drafted in 2012 by the Cubs, he was the sixth pick overall, hence the expectations. It was the 2012 Boise Hawks playoff run that I truly began to understand what kind of ballplayer Almora was, go hard 100% of the time even if a wall is in the way, oops. The wall took a toll on Almora, literally, and he has never really been able to recover as it’s been one injury after another. In three seasons with the Cubs organization Almora has played in 219 games across five levels, that’s not enough games for such a young player to actually work on his game. 2014 saw a rebound of sorts health wise for Almora as he was able to play in 125 games combined with Daytona and Tennessee.
We finally got a glimpse of Albert Almora the baseball player, and we realized one thing, he needs to be more patient at the plate. In 529 plate appearances Almora walked 14 times, wrap your head around that for a second, that’s almost impossible. Improved approach at the plate is important for Almora if he wants to remain with the Cubs as he will be expected to be that guy who can get on base in front of the mashers in the powerful Cubs lineup of the future. If the injury bug can ignore Almora this year I totally expect him to break out in Tennessee, which is where he will start the 2015 season. I feel like Almora really tried to do too much with the bat last year, sure in 2013 he only walked 17 times, but that was in half the number of plate appearances as 2014 (272). Defensively the kid has some serious skills in centerfield, he can go get the ball with the best of them, and probably has the best defensive tools in the Cubs system. For that reason he can be a difference maker on a contending team, if he can stay healthy, and find a way to improve his approach at the plate then he becomes more than just a “guy.” His natural ability to lead, and his History of winning could do this group a lot of good down the road.
Definitely watch for this during spring training, lets see if Almora can see more pitches, and make pitchers work to get him out. So far this spring he is 2-for-2, hasn’t seen a lot of pitches, but he’s picking on strikes, I expect big things in 2015.