by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Cubs have become spoiled by their riches. They are arguably already the best team in baseball, but they also have a slew of young prospects working their way up the ladder and could conceivably make an impact in ’16. One such player is Albert Almora, who has long been on radars but has generally underperformed (at least offensively).
Things have changed a bit this season, as he’s posted solid numbers at Triple-A:
.333 (43-129), 3 HR, 19 RBI, 24 R, 4 SB
He’s always shown an ability to make consistent contact and this season has been no different, with a 12.3% strikeout rate, but that doesn’t mean that we should be falling in love with him. He’s playing in the Pacific Coast League, so the continued lack of power is definitely a concern. Sure he’s added a few additional extra base hits (7 doubles and 2 triples), but with 6 HR in 405 AB at Double-A last season there isn’t a lot to get excited about.
His average is also questionable, at best. Without the power he needs to be able to maintain an elevated BABIP in order to continue hitting for a “big” average. He’s carrying a .360 mark thus far this season, hardly a number we’d expect him to replicate. A regression there, as well as a potential jump in strikeouts once he reaches the Majors, throws his average into question. Is .300 possible? Not likely, and .270-.280 may be his upside.
He also lacks premier speed and doesn’t draw many walks (4.3% in ’16), so from an offensive standpoint exactly what is there to like? Not much, actually.
Here’s how Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 described him prior to the season:
“Almora’s carrying tool is his plus defensive profile. He has a great first step, tracks balls very well, and has enough arm to keep runners honest. The bat is well behind his glove though. He has a line-drive approach and has always made good contact, but the approach has been extremely aggressive and pitchers have attacked him to produce weak contact. He has shown slightly better patience in 2015, but there is still much work to be done.”
MLB.com offered a little bit of a better outlook, long-term:
“At the plate, Almora excels at making contact but has yet to demonstrate that he can contribute much beyond hitting for average. He has yet to tap into his average raw power, rarely walks and won’t steal many bases. His ceiling is probably a .280 hitter with 15 homers per year, and he’ll have to develop more patience to reach it.”
He’s still just 22-years old, so he has time to take another step in his development. However, at this point there isn’t too much to like (outside of his defense). From a real baseball perspective that’s going to bring value, but if you are looking at it from a fantasy perspective he’s simply not a player to buy into.
Current Grade – C
Upside Grade – B-
Sources – Fangraphs, MILB.com, MLB.com, Prospect 361
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