Almora is like the anti-Joey Gallo. For that matter, he's got a lot going for him that even Byron Buxton doesn't. If I had to pick, Almora may be my favorite high school position player in the draft.
He's polished, playing against high-level international competition for years now. In that, he's got quite a bit of an edge on Buxton, who's never really faced that kind of competition, either in high school or on the workout circuit.
Still, there's a reason why Almora isn't being talked about for that top pick, and it's because he's above average at a bunch of different things without having one elite skill. That could make him an All-Star center fielder, but may not get him considered at 1-1.
I think that'd be somewhat of a mistake. Almora has less questions than any of the top picks. He's got a good swing that will play in the pros, good speed that will give him value in a big Minute Maid Park outfield and on the bases and enough power to be effective at the plate.
Can you imagine an outfield of him and Springer? Excellent defense plus power and speed? Sign me up.
I know Buxton is the most popular pick, since he's got the chance to add more power and, thus, gets more projection love. If you can draft a guy who will hit 40 homers or a guy who's going to hit 20, most teams will go for the chance at 40. I don't blame them either, because power is the most expensive skill to buy on the open market.
Still, I think passing on a guy like Almora could be passing up the surest bet of all the high school guys.
Even if his power doesn't develop, he's polished enough defensively right now to be a fifth outfielder and provide some late-game help in the field. If the power doesn't come, he's still got a chance to be a good starter in center, and if he grows out of the position, his arm can hold up in right. May have the highest floor of any high schooler in this draft.
Think Andruw Jones here. A great fielder in center who posesses good pop and can hit for a great average. In the right season, that could put him in the MVP mix, but more likely he'll be a perennial All-Star.
Projected Draft Round
Should be a top 10 pick.
Will he sign?
Miami is a pretty good program and could be a draw for him. I'd expect, though, if he goes in the top handful of picks that he'll sign for a princely sum.
College commitment: University of Miami (FL)
Bibliography after the jump
Cooperstown Dreams Park
Albert has been part of USA Baseball's national teams for several years. Albert competed with the 2009 16U USA National team in Taipe, Taiwan. The team won gold against Cuba. In 11 games, Albert's stats included .356 BA (15 RBI, 3 doubles, 1 triple and a home run), 5 stolen bases and walked 3 times. Albert is playing with the 2010 18U USA National team. The squad finished the summer with 19-2 record and tournament-best 7-1 in the World Championships.
Almora has five tool potential with a high ceiling to go with. He has five above-average tools across the board with the potential for some plus tools. He is a great hitter with a good line drive swing and should hit for a high average at the next level. He has potential above average power and should hit for lots of extra base hits with a possibly 20-30 homeruns a year. On the base paths, he has plus speed with great baserunning skills. In the field, Almora has the skills to stick in center. He has above average defense in center with a great arm to go with. He really would be a great pick for a team with a building up the middle approach
Baseball Prospect Nation
Very polished player for his age. Instinctual player in the field, at the plate and on the bases. Has potential to be 15-homer, 15-20 steal type that hits for a good average and plays outstanding defense up the middle. Needs improved physicality to reach his ceiling. Polish could move him fairly quickly through a system, but will have to catch up physically. May need some tweaks to timing mechanism at the plate to be more consistent against pro pitching, but that’s a minor change. Potential above-average up the middle player that contributes across the board.
MLB Draft Countdown
His bat is very good, and he doesn’t complicate things with any unnecessary action in his swing. He has excellent bat speed, and he absolutely attacks the gaps. He should develop into a doubles machine, with decent home run power. At best, he could be good for 35 or more doubles, 25 or so home runs and a .290 average.
While he's only a solid-average runner, Almora has outstanding instincts and body control. This allows him to play an above-average center field in part by frequently making diving catches that expand his range as he doesn?t have the extra gear scouts look for. Some scouts feel Almora will max out his frame and eventually move to a corner, but that won?t happen anytime soon. His above-average arm is a weapon in center and will play in right field if he needs to move down the road. Between his raw tools and his tremendous instincts, he projects as an All-Star caliber centerfielder in the majors.