Albert Almora spent a significant portion of his 2016 campaign at Triple-A Iowa, where he put together one of his best performances in the upper levels of the Cubs' minor league system. He was young for the level as a 22 years old, and he continued to show a developing hit tool despite the lack of a discerning eye at the plate (2.7 percent walk rate at Iowa, 4.3 percent with the Cubs). If the Cubs turned him loose with an everyday role, his defense alone would make him a valuable contributor. With further projection remaining in his bat, Almora still has the raw tools to emerge as a double-digit threat in home runs and stolen bases, and one with a good batting average thanks to his low strikeout rate (17.1 percent K% against MLB pitching). In order to deliver on that potential, he will need to carve out a significant share of the playing time in center field for the Cubs.
Almora will bat ninth and play center field against the Pirates on Tuesday. Almora will get his first start in three games, while Jon Jay heads to the bench as a result. The two should continue to split the majority of reps in center field, though Almora should offer more fantasy value. The 23-year-old is slashing .303/.378/.485 with seven RBI in 33 at-bats this year, but he remains temporarily limited in fantasy due to his inconsistent playing time (he's only started seven of the Cubs' 19 games so far).
Almora went 1-for-4 with a solo home run -- his first of the season -- during Wednesday's win over Milwaukee. Almora's shot was a no-doubter off the bat, and the center fielder now sports an impressive .391/.440/.609 slash line over 26 plate appearances this year. His fantasy value is capped because of his depth role, but the 23-year-old outfielder could become a solid asset if a path ever cleared for him to see semi-regular at-bats. Still, considering his strong start, Almora should be on your radar for daily contests when he's in the starting lineup.
Almora went 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI in Monday's loss to the Brewers. Almora isn't playing every day, but he's been good when he's in the lineup, posting a .389/.450/.500 slash line so far. Jon Jay will continue to steal some starts, but Almora is the better upside play for the Cubs and fantasy owners.
Almora is in the Cubs' lineup Thursday against the Dodgers, batting sixth and playing center field. The Cubs will call upon him against a left-hander, as is the case as they face Los Angeles' Thursday starter, Hyun-Jin Ryu. Almora has been receiving a decent amount of praise from manager Joe Maddon, who may give him more time than afforded the typical bottom-side platoon stick. Deep mixed players could speculate on Almora's growing talent, which was mainly defense-based of late but has a big opportunity to find a new level at the plate. The 23-year-old is 5-for-9 with two RBI to start the 2017 season.
Almora got on base four times in five plate appearances Saturday, knocking three singles to go with a walk, two RBI and a run against the Brewers. This was just his second start of 2017, but Almora has provided solid returns both times he's been given a shot. Because he's the Cubs' fourth outfielder, his fantasy value remains limited to deep NL-only formats and keeper leagues right now, but Almora has first-round pedigree and an intriguing (if somewhat spotty) history with the bat in the minors. Just 23 years old as of this past Thursday, he's a player to watch in case his role increases.
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