CHICAGO -- Albert Almora, the Cubs' first-round Draft pick in 2012, has watched fellow prospects like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber get promoted to the big leagues. Could 2016 be Almora's turn?
The outfielder, one of three Cubs prospects who took part in Major League Baseball's Rookie Development Program last weekend, said seeing the others play in the Major Leagues does inspire him.
"It just motivates me," said Almora, who's ranked No. 5 on MLB.com's list of top 30 Cubs prospects. "I'm working really hard. Whenever they think I'm ready, I'll go up there and help the team win in any way or shape that I can. I'm there to do my job wherever I'm playing, if it's Rookie ball or anywhere. I'm just going to go there and play and do my best and do whatever I can to help the team win."
Last season, Almora, 21, batted .272 in 106 games at Double-A Tennessee, hitting six home runs, 26 doubles and four triples while driving in 46 runs. He also played for Team USA in the Pan American games, his seventh appearance with the national team, which is the most by any player.
"It brought back what baseball is to me and what the goal is to play this game," Almora said of his Team USA experience. "It was kind of a fresh start."
The prospect wasn't aware that he had set the record for most appearances until it was announced when he took the field for a game against the Canadian team.
"Every time I get the chance or opportunity, I'll jump on board," Almora said. "I love representing my country."
Almora first played for USA Baseball in 2007 on a 14-and-under national team. His parents were in attendance this July when he found out about the record. Albert Sr., who played in Cuba, began throwing batting practice to his son when he was 4, and they have built a batting cage at their Florida home. Almora added the Jr. to his name in 2015 in honor of his father.
Almora, as well as pitchers Pierce Johnson and Carl Edwards Jr., took part in the MLB rookie program in Washington.