By now I’ve pretty much run out of superlatives to apply to Albert Almora, who made yet another diving catch on Friday afternoon in Las Vegas. I was saying back before camp started that this kid was going to open some eyes in March and boy howdy has he done just that. Check out the video below and watch how he’s able to get to the ball, adjusting his steps as he does in order to time his dive just so.
That’s so pretty. Playing as shallow as he was, Almora reminded me a bit here of center fielders like Andruw Jones and Jim Edmonds. Those guys were often accused of positioned themselves that way in order to make highlight-reel plays, but I don’t think that’s Almora’s MO. He’s just hyper-aware of the ground he’s able to cover from where he is in the outfield. You can see from his routes and the couple of abbreviated steps he takes that he’s in full control of his body throughout the entire pursuit of the ball.
We’ve all seen those “Oh sh*#!” moments, the times when an outfielder gets a late break or takes a bad route on a ball and is then forced to adjust, only to have the ball drop short or sail past him for a hit. It’s as though their eyes and brain are at odds with their bodies or that they’re just not quite synced up. Almora, on the other hand, is able to assess and alter his path with nigh-imperceptible course corrections on the fly.
Fans in Des Moines are going to love watching this young man, but I don’t think they’re going to get a full year of him. Unless he regresses with the bat — which, for the record, I don’t think will be the case at all — I have to believe he’s a September call-up. The glove plays so well that I’m confident Almora could start in center for the Cubs on Monday and they’d be just fine. As it is, he’ll get another year of maturation to prepare for what should be a spot on the 25-man roster in 2017.