Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig walked to the podium to announce the Chicago Cubs sixth overall selection in the first round of the MLB amateur draft and something surprising happened. The surprise was that for the first time since the Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer began to head the Cubs’ baseball department, the thing that is was expected to happen actually happened.
Even with project first overall pick Mark Appel sliding down and being available to the Cubs with the sixth overall selection, the team did not stray from their plan.
Selig announced that with the sixth overall selection of the 2012 first year player draft the Chicago Cubs have selected Mater Academy outfielder Albert Almora of Hialeah Gardens, Florida.
This was no surprise at all.
Almora to the Cubs was a connection that was made last week. Multiple reporters and prospect insiders reported the Cubs admiration of Almora, with some suggesting that the team would take Almora even if they had the first overall selection. The first overall selection, by the way, was Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa.
Correa has been compared to Alex Rodriguez, but Almora has all the tools to being a perennial all-star for the Cubs in addition to a five tool outfielder for the Cubs.
There have been two comparisons for Almora. The first one was outfielder Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers. Though that comparison likely comes from the fact that Almora has a very similar stance and swing than that of Braun. The other comparison, that seems much more reasonable, is outfielder Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles. Jones is on the cusp of being one of the few elite outfielders in all of Major League Baseball. Jone is hitting .315/.363/.602/.965 this season with the Orioles to go along with 16 home runs and 34 RBIs.
Almora has the potential to power hitting center fielder to go along with above average speed. In addition, Almora’s defensive skills are also highly regarded.
There will be plenty of expectations placed on Almora. Reason being that Almora is the first, first round pick of the Epstein era with the Chicago Cubs. Epstein’s draft history has produced players such as Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury. Both Pedroia and Ellsbury have been viewed as MVP candidates at some point in their respective careers. That is not to say that anything but MVP candidacy for Almora would be a bust, but that may be how outrageous the expectations get for Almora. Almora is going to be a great player for the Cubs. In fact, there is a decent chance that Almora becomes an elite player for the Cubs.
But for now, lets not forget the key value of patience. Almora will not be considered for the Major Leagues until at least the 2017 season. Almora is going to develop, and with the likes of Jason McLeod in place, I feel confident in his development as a professional baseball player.
Come 2017, a new “King Albert” may be ready to take the throne in the National League Central division.