With Dexter Fowler‘s return to the Chicago Cubs came the demotion of Albert Almora, Jr. What is next for the young prospect?
Albert Almora, Jr., came in with a defensive bang. The number five prospect in the Chicago Cubs farm system nailed Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera at the plate on June 8. During his time in the Majors, Almora, Jr., played all three outfield positions and batted .265. The Cubs outfield is crammed with players and there is talk of adding Josh Reddick from the Oakland Athletics. Is Almora’s time with the Cubs over? Not so fast my friend.
The Chicago Cubs outfield may be crammed, but maybe not for long. Chris Coghlan has struggled in the return to the team after starting the year in Oakland. he may be designated for assignment. Jorge Soler is still on the DL, and is mainly a left-fielder, with minimal experience in right. He could possibly be traded. Willson Contreras and Kris Bryant are platooning in left, though it is not their regular position. Matt Szczur has played left field as well but is used as a pinch-hitter. Additionally, Fowler currently playing under a one-year contract with an option for next year.
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Moves are on the horizon. With David Ross retiring, Contreras should see more time behind the plate in preparation for 2017. Bryant is going to see more time his natural 3B position now that Fowler is back. With Soler being less flexible in the field and struggling to improve at the plate, he may be moved. And, as stated earlier, Coghlan’s struggles may (in my opinion) force him to be waived. Almora’s return may come sooner than later.
The question remains with which club? Does Schwarber return with a big bat and average defense in left? Does Fowler come back for another season? Do the Cubs go after Reddick? Or, do they trade someone like Soler to the Yankees for Miller or Chapman, leaving a spot of Almora, Jr, on the Cubs?
Almora, Jr., processes several traits that make him valuable to the Chicago Cubs. First off, his maturity is beyond his years. He has battled through struggles with his father’s health and, this week, was married to his long time girlfriend. Plus, he carries himself as if he were a veteran on the field, not a 22-year old rookie. Joe Maddon love this, saying in an article in the Chicago Tribune, “The thing I look at is can you talk to the guy? Is he focused on what you’re saying? Can he process what you’re saying? He easily can. That’s what he’s like in the heat of the moment.”
It is obvious that Almora, Jr., fits with the current Cubs team. Young, athletic, humble, with speed and Gold Glove caliber defense, he would be an asset to any team. But, the Cubs came into this season with expectations for Almora, Jr., playing CF regularly. Until the dramatic return for Fowler came at the start of Spring training.
Almora, Jr., made the most of his time in the minors with (.318/.335/.444), showing that improvement from previous years. His defense and aggressiveness while on the big league club impressed his teammates. He has a long career ahead of him. Will it be with the Cubs or another team? We will see as the MLB Trade Deadline comes close next week.