Cubs select Albert Almora in first round

The Chicago Cubs tonight selected outfielder Albert Almora out of Mater Academy Charter in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., with the sixth overall pick in the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. 

Almora was recommended by area scout John Koronka.

“We scouted Albert extensively throughout his career and he fit the criteria we were looking for,” said Jason McLeod, Cubs Vice President of Scouting and Player Development.  “He has multiple tools across the board, and an incredible work ethic. We are looking forward to seeing him start his career.” 

Almora, 18, was named by Baseball America as the second-best outfielder available in the draft, and the third-best high school player in the 2012 draft class. In addition, the publication ranked him as the best defensive player and the second-best pure hitter with the third-best strike zone judgment among high school eligible players in the draft.

The six-foot-two, 180-pound Almora batted .603 (44-for-73) with 13 doubles, five triples, six home runs and 34 RBI in 25 games for Mater Academy last season. He recorded a 1.164 slugging percentage and a .667 on-base percentage thanks in part to 14 walks compared to just three strikeouts in 87 plate appearances. Almora, who made the Mater varsity squad as an eighth-grader in 2008, last season stole 24 bases in 25 attempts.

Almora, who bats and throws right-handed, has an extensive resume with Team USA Baseball. In 2011, he was named USA Baseball’s Athlete of the Year after helping the 18-under squad go 9-0 and earn the gold medal in the Pan-Am Games, an event in which he was named tournament MVP. He has been part of six USA national teams, tied for the most by any player with former major league catcher A.J. Hinch, and has earned five gold medals.

Almora committed to the University of Miami. He is the cousin of Baltimore’s 2010 first-round pick (third selection overall) Manny Machado.

The 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft continues this evening with the compensation round, in which the Cubs have pick No. 43 (compensation for Aramis Ramirez) and No. 56 (compensation for Carlos Peña). The draft proceeds tomorrow with rounds two-through-15 and concludes Wednesday with rounds 16-through-40.