Chicago Cubs: Where Does Albert Almora Fit?

Mar 2, 2015; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora poses for a portrait during photo day at the training center at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2015; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora poses for a portrait during photo day at the training center at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Possibly the Chicago Cubs center fielder of the future, where will Albert Almora fit into this year’s plans?

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Theo Epstein took over the Cubs in 2012, and his first draft pick was center fielder Albert Almora.  Almora is highly thought of defensively, and his bat has always been consistently above average in the minors, but where does his offense project in the Major Leagues?

With the signing of Jason Heyward, that leaves no place for Almora for the time being, the Cubs also signed the top international free agent, who is also a center fielder Eddy Julio Martinez.  Martinez has been deemed the “next Andruw Jones” by some.  So, the question is this:  Is Martinez the heir to Heyward’s throne? Or will Martinez shift over and clear a spot for Almora?

There is no question on Almora’s glove, it will play in the big leagues, but his bat does not project well, in fact, it projects to be well below average.  He fails to walk much, with just a 7% walk rate in 2015, but he does not strike out much either, with only a 10.4 K% in 2015, so, take the good with the bad in that situation.

Certainly, with the Cubs current lineup, he could get by with just being a great defensive player with plays like this. Cubs fans will take a dynamite center fielder.  The most alarming thing about Almora is that he keeps moving down the prospect rankings, in 2013 he was #33, in 2014 he was #36, in 2015, he was number 89, and back up to number 86 this year.

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He’s been no more than a league average hitter in the minor leagues, nothing too special, but has made some spectacular defensive plays time and time again.  With the current depth in the minor league system and the newest signings, it is hard to fathom how Almora has a long term place with this team, which means the Cubs could package him in a trade to a team that could actually use him.

Almora does fit the fourth outfielder mold, though, and would be a tremendous option to play the backup outfielder.  Cubs fans will take that, Almora is Kevin Kiermaier lite, and that is more than enough to earn a spot on a team somewhere at some point, it just may not be with the Cubs, especially if he keeps making plays like he has.

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