Making the jump to a higher level of play is always difficult. Some players struggle for a game and some players struggle longer. Chicago Cubs prospect, Albert Almora is the latter. Since being promoted to AA the 20 year old centerfielder has hit just .208 with three extra-base hits in 48 at bats. Like most of the Cubs’ top prospects, Almora, the Cubs first round pick (6th overall) in the 2012 amateur draft, has been moving through the system at an impressive rate but it may be the time to slow him down a touch. Now that he is with the Tennessee Smokies, Almora is four and a half years younger than the average player in the league (according to baseball-reference.com) and it could be affecting his game.
Similar to Jorge Soler, the Chicago Cubs other top outfield prospect, Almora has dealt with injuries in the past and has missed significant time. 2014 is Almora’s third year in professional baseball but it is the first season in which he has played more than 100 games (101 entering play yesterday). If you ask anyone in the Cubs’ front office or anyone who has played along side Almora, they will tell you that he has immense talent and that his intangibles are off the charts, so his future is not in question. But it may be time to slow his progression through the system. This is not a challenge of Almora’s promotion(s) or of his ability, but rather, it is merely an observation of a ballplayer who is now playing for his fifth different team/level in just 195 career games.
With Jorge Soler appearing to be on the cusp of a major league call-up, the Iowa Cubs will soon have a vacancy in their starting outfield. It is important that Almora should only fill Soler’s spot if he is indeed ready to take the next step in his progression. Many times we get so caught up in rushing talented young players to the big leagues by the time they are a certain age when, in fact, age should have very little to do with when a player is “ready”. Not every top prospect can be like, Los Angeles Angels outfielder, Mike Trout and dominate at the age of 20. Some guys simply are not ready at such a young age.
The bottom line is this: we have now entered the period in which the Cubs’ roster is beginning to be flooded with young prospects. It started with Arismendy Alcantara and now Javier Baez. Soon it will be Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, CJ Edwards and Arodys Vizcaino and the pressure to bring up Almora will increase. But bringing up a kid before he is ready serves no one except for over-anxious fans who will turn into doubters when he fails. Albert Almora has hit a rough patch, sure, but he will join the Cubs one day; when he is truly ready.
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