23. Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs
Epstein, Hoyer continue rebuild
Another first-round draft selection in last year's first-year player draft, Almora was selected sixth overall out of Mater Academy Charter School in Florida. He'll turn 19 in two months and should be a key component as the Cubbies' new ownership attempts to rebuild a winner on the North side. Chicago realized his talent right away at a Rookie ball and low Single-A stop (Boise) last year, where Almora put up a combined slash line of .321/.331/.464 in 140 at-bats.
The biggest knock against Almora is his current lack of power, but at his age, he has plenty of time to develop that skill set as he grows and matures into his body. Almora is currently listed at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds. Aside from his shortcomings in the power department, this is a kid who was one of the more polished prospects coming out of the '12 draft. His above-average bat speed and line drive-oriented approach bode well for him to hit for a high average. He also utilizes the entire field and carries above-average contact skills. If the power develops here, look out.
Most first-round selections, let alone those taken in the top-10 picks, have tremendous potential to become consistent contributors at the major league level, and Almora is no different. His status as a long-standing member of the USA Baseball circuit may lend more optimism to his long-term outlook, since he's been playing, and excelling, against top-notch talent throughout his young playing career. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer love developing and implementing their homegrown talent, but Almora probably won't be ready for Wrigley until at least the 2016 season.
On to No. 24
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About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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