Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com wrapped up his series of Top 10 prospects by position yesterday with outfielders. Cubs fans will be happy to know that Theo Epstein’s first draft selection as President of the North Siders has made the honor roll. Albert Almorawas the sixth overall selection this past June, straight out of high school. The Florida area product has experience in the USA Baseball system and has impressed with his instincts and work ethic, two characteristics that cannot necessarily be taught at the pro level.
The inclusion of Almora marks the third straight year in which a Cubs outfield prospect has been featured. Brett Jackson appeared both in 2012 and 2011 at fifth and sixth respectively. During his brief time in pro ball since the draft, Almora so far has displayed the ability to hit to all fields with a combined .300 plus batting average. The power numbers hope to be improved on, but at age 18 that is one area that typically comes around as a young player continues to mature. As an example, Starlin Castro’s home run totals have steadily increased in each of his first three seasons in the Majors after making his debut at the age of 20.
While there is still a long way off between now and the projected debut of 2016 or 2017 for Almora, one promising note is the fact that 6 foot 1 right hander has already been included in this Top 10 list despite just 33 games in the minors after being recently drafted. The other reason that this mention is of significance is that this short list does not factor for the individual outfield positions like left field or center field. While a specific outfield position is more interchangeable in the lower levels of minor league ball, the argument is that the pool of players from which to generate a Top 10 list is deeper than that of first base for example. While the Cubs have been known to over hype their prospects in past years, there is reason to be excited over Almora’s future as a Cub. Yes, Jackson’s promotion to the Majors last season shows that there are no guarantees of instant impact and stardom, but the initial returns suggest that Epstein and Company have hit on their first draft pick as leaders of the Cubs front office.