Cubs Selected Albert Almora with Sixth Pick in Draft

The 2012 First-Year Player Draft began Monday night. The Cubs made three selections on day one of the three day draft … outfielder Albert Almora and right-handed pitchers Pierce Johnson and Paul Blackburn.

With the sixth overall pick, the Cubs selected Albert Almora from Mater Academy Charter School in Florida. The Cubs scouted the 18-year old outfielder rather heavily and they do not anticipate having any troubles signing the Scott Boras client that has already committed to the University of Miami.

The Cubs had two picks in the compensatory round and selected RHP Pierce Johnson from Missouri State with the 43rd overall pick and RHP Paul Blackburn from Heritage High School in California with the 56th pick. The Cubs received the sandwich picks for Aramis Ramirez (43) signing with the Brewers and Carlos Pena (56) inking a contract with the Rays in the off-season after both players were offered and declined salary arbitration.

Under the new CBA, the deadline to sign players selected in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft is July 13.

Albert Almora (OF)
The 18-year old, 6-foot-2, 170-pound outfielder does not graduate from high school until Friday, June 8 and he should be making his professional debut in the next six weeks. Almora was USA Baseball’s 2011 Athlete of the Year after being MVP of the 18-and-under Pan American Championships in November of 2011.

According to Baseball America, scouts love his grinder approach and in-game savvy. Almora has outstanding tools and he uses them. Almora runs the bases well and uses his speed to cover ground in centerfield. Some scouts consider his defense to be Major League ready right now. Almora has a plus, accurate arm and a natural hitting rhythm with plenty of bat speed. He is a line-drive hitter with a loose swing that stays inside the ball. Almora projects to have 20-homer power that could translate to a corner outfield spot if he slows down.

Pierce Johnson (RHP)
The Cubs selected the 21-year old, 6-foot-3, 180-pound right-hander with the first of two sandwich picks. Pierce Johnson has two plus-pitches with a mid-90s fastball (92-96 MPH) and a hard three-quarters breaking ball. Johnson will mix in an 86-87 MPH cutter and has shown improvement with his changeup. Johnson is a strike thrower (119 in 99 2/3 innings) and has drawn comparisons to the Nationals’ Drew Storen.

Johnson’s biggest issue is staying healthy. Johnson missed time this season with a forearm strain, missed time in the Cape Cod league with a dislocated knee and a broken hand cost him most of his senior year in high school.

Paul Blackburn (RHP)
The Cubs selected the 18-year old with the 56th pick in the draft. Blackburn is 6-foot-2, 180 pounds and throws a fastball that sits in the low-90s and tops out at 94. Blackburn’s curveball and changeup have shown promise. Blackburn is athletic and has shown he can repeat what has been described as a clean delivery. Scouts like his smooth mechanics and feel he will eventually pitch with above-average control and command.

Blackburn has committed to Arizona State but many feel he will choose professional ball over college.

Round two of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft begins Tuesday morning at 11:00am CDT. Rounds 2-15 take place Tuesday. The Cubs first three picks of the second day of the draft are as follows: 67 (Rd 2), 101 (Rd 3), 134 (Rd 4)

Updated with Second Day Selections

Round 2 (Pick 67) Duane Underwood, RHP, Pope HS, GA
Round 3 (Pick 101) Ryan McNeil, RHP, Nipmoo HS, CA
Round 4 (Pick 134) Josh Conway, RHP, Coastal Carolina, SC
Round 5 (Pick 164) Anthony Prieto, LHP, Americas HS, TX
Round 6 (Pick 194) Trey Lang, RHP, Gateway Community College, AZ
Round 7 (Pick 224) Stephen Bruno, 3B, Virginia
Round 8 (Pick 254) Michael Heesch,LHP, University of South Carolina Beaufort, SC
Round 9 (Pick 284) Chadd Krist, C, California
Round 10 (Pick 314) Chad Martin, RHP, Indiana
Round 11 (Pick 344) Rashad Crawford, CF, Mundy’s Mill HS, GA
Round 12 (Pick 374) Justin Amlung, RHP, Louisville
Round 13 (Pick 404) Bijan Rademacher, OF, Orange Coast College, CA
Round 14 (Pick 434) Corbin Hoffner, RHP, St Petersburg College, FL
Round 15 (Pick 464) Carlos Escobar, C, University of Nevada-Reno

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  • Hoosierboy3423

    Maybe im crazy, but does anyone else see a little bit of Derek Jeter in the make up of this kid Almora. Seems like the same kinda hard working natural born leader that Jeter was, who can just come in on day one and command respect of his team.

  • Aaron

    I just wanted to give a brief overview for the 2nd round today. 

    Here are the names to consider per Baseball America. You’ll notice that I listed most of them yesterday to keep an eye on:

    34. Tanner Rahier, ss, Palm Desert (Calif.) HS
    Baseball rat plays with a ton of energy. Knack for squaring it up with wood.36. Anthony Alford, of, Petal (Miss.) HS
    Southern Mississippi football recruit has excellent athleticism.38. Ty Buttrey, rhp, Providence HS, Charlotte
    Older prep righty started hot but wore out from heavy workload. Video43. Carson Kelly, 3b/rhp, Westview HS, Portland, Ore.
    Draws David Wright comparisons for bat and makeup. Video44. Mitch Brown, rhp, Century HS, Rochester, Minn.
    Scouts love his size, stuff, projection and makeup. Video46. Nolan Fontana, ss, Florida
    Reliable glove with patient offensive approach.47. Wyatt Mathisen, c, Calallen HS, Corpus Christi, Texas
    Mostly played shortstop in high school, but profiles best behind the plate.50. Walker Buehler, rhp, Clay HS, Lexington, Ky.
    90-94 mph fastball with chance for three plus pitches. Tough sign away from Vanderbilt.53. Hunter Virant, lhp, Camarillo (Calif.) HS
    Relatively new to pitching but shows feel for four pitches, including a fastball up to 93 and a potential plus changeup. Video54. Alex Wood, lhp, Georgia
    Funky TJ survivor has been up to 95 mph. Profiles best in bullpen.I would also add Trey Williams and Nick Williams to that list. It’s also important to note that Onelkis Garcia is still available, though rumor has it he’s looking for a huge payday, or won’t sign. The guys I’d include higher than those listed above though, include:Jake BarrettJameis WinstonAdam Brett WalkerRio RuizI really think Jake Barrett would be a steal. I really hope the Cubs draft him.

  • Theboardrider

    I like the Almora pick.  The Cubs stuck with their plan on that one.  The Stanford pitcher was available and nobody would have knocked them for taking that leap,  but they had scouted Albert heavily and he was “their guy.” 

    To me it shows what I hoped to see from management…a plan!  And the resolve to stick to it. 

    • cubs1967

      what happens if the plan is wrong??……what happens if Appel was a gift handed to them and them let the Pirates take him….
      just because there is a plan does not make it right……

      last time I checked the cubs need pitching…..

      • John_CC

         All drafts are calculated risks.  Five teams passed before the Cubs and yet another after the Cubs.  Seven big league front offices saw a too big of a risk. The Pirates may be rewarded, but if they can’t sign him, they lost their first round pick.

      • RynoTiger

        what happen is the plan is right??

      • cubtex

        The plan was that they were going to take Almora with the 1st pick and go for pitching after that. I would have liked a front end guy like Appel as well but hopefully at least 2 of these pitchers they drafted make it.

      • Theboardrider

        You may be right.  They may have been wrong.  I’m giving credit for resolve.  It’s a breath of fresh air.  The former regime went with whatever direction the wind was blowing that day.  I like to see things done differently.

        And drafts in baseball are a crapshoot.  Appel could be the next Mark Prior.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Penrod/700030874 Jason Penrod

         I liked Appel as well.  What are we going to do with Almora?  Isn’t Jackson supposed to be the guy of the future?  I’ve only followed the draft for the past couple of seasons now, but it seems to me we had Castro, and then drafted a SS, and now we have Jackson, and drafted a CF…  Is it just me, or does that seem stupid…  I guess I just compare it too much to the NFL…

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs selected RHP Duane Underwood from Pope HS, GA  in the 2nd round

    • cubtex

      Raw power arm with a lot of upside. I like the fact they are adding pitching.

    • Marshaadbrooks

      Had Underwood at #43, but what the hey, we still got him and I’m happy for the Cubs.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs selected RHP Ryan McNeil  from Nipomo HS, CA  in the 3rd round (Pick 101)

  • Zonk

    They are doing exactly what Theo said a couple days ago:  First round would be “best available”, after that, they are taking lots and lots of pitching, because they feel our system is thin there.  Which it is.

    We need power arms in the minors, and looks like we are stocking up on exactly that right now

  • SuzyS

    The more I know about baseball…and the draft…the more I know very little…5o plus years and counting…I’ve been a huge fan…I guess we should consider an ongoing feature…every year….THE DRAFT…FIVE YEARS AGO…that’s really the only way we can really keep track…
    and even at that…draft day decisions may take into account many factors…(ie signability/personality/health/heart etc)…that we may never be privy to from the draftroom. …All we will see is the results…and no matter what…it comes down to an expensive crapshoot.
    GO CUBS…

    • paulcatanese

      Absolutly agree with you Suzy.

    • John_CC

      It’s ALL an expensive crapshoot.

      Every player playing in the MLB came from somewhere and around 90% (my guess) were drafted.  You have to start somewhere, right?

      • Tom U

        John CC, that is exactly my philosophy. And that is why I follow the minors so closely.

    • Zonk

      You need 5 years to evaluate a draft at least, that’s very true.  And, most drafted players just don’t make it, even some first rounders every year just don’t get there.  It’s a crapshoot.

      For the record, here is the Cub draft exactly 5 years ago:

      1–Josh Vitters
      1s–Josh Donaldson
      3–Tony Thomas
      4–Darwin Barney
      5–Brandon Guyer

      Only other pick of note:
      14–James Russell

      • SuzyS

         Yep…Good old Josh Donaldson…Thanks for the look-see Zonk.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    #Cubs selected RHP Josh Conway in the 4th round (Pick 134)

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

       Conway is recovering from recent Tommy John Surgery

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs selected LHP Anthony Prieto from Americas HS, TX  in the 5th round (Pick 164)
     

    • John_CC

       Wow, 6 pitchers after the 1st round.  It is an understatement to say that the Cubs system is devoid of pitching.

      • Zonk

        Indeed….I remember not too long ago, we had good depth in pitching, just not alot of position players. 

        Back in ’03 to ’05, BA commented the Cubs had more quality arms than rotation slots available in the minors. This was after selecting 4 pitchings in the First Round in 2002, after Prior in 2001. 

        Oh how times have changed……..

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs selected RHP Trey Lang from Gateway Community College, AZ in the 6th round (Pick 194)

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs selected 3B Stephen Bruno from Virgina in the 7th round (Pick 224)

    • Zonk

      That was 7 pitchers in a row before Bruno……Theo wasn’t kidding when he said they were focusing on pitching.

  • SuzyS

    “My main priority now is college.” -stated by Almora…Tweeted by Bruce Miles.
    I like Scott Boras almost as much as I like Obama Bin Laden. (Which is not at all) .
    Let the games begin…(sigh).

    • John_CC

       If we believe that the Almora has been the Cubs choice all along, and there is no reason to not, then certainly we can trust that Epstein has had many conversations with Mr. Boras about signing the kid.  They would not have picked him if they thought they couldn’t sign him, which is why they let Appel go.

      And I really hope that your Bin Laden comment is a typo, Suzy.

      • Theboardrider

         I think I sensed some sarcasm in Suzy’s Bin Laden comment.  Actually not just “sensed,”  she spelled it out…

        • Jknoes14

          I think John was referring to Suzi’s typo in the first name.

    • SuzyS

       Yes…a typo…Osama/not Obama…Sorry guys…I play no politics here…just baseball…the game of baseball …I love.

      The business GAME of baseball…I hate.

  • Aaron

    http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/12997017-573/cubs-might-have-trouble-signing-no-1-pick-albert-almora.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

    ….so much for “high character” and “great teammate”…this guy already seems like a prima-dona. Oh well, such is the life of a Cubs fan…after initial excitement comes the MAJOR letdown

    My guess is he doesn’t sign. He didn’t even seem enthused to be selected by the Cubs, and just call it a hunch, but not only do I think he’s gunning for the entire allotment of money from the Cubs (after all, Boras is his adviser), but I think he has the self-confidence and work ethic that he believes in 3 years he could be the #1 overall pick and get even more money.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Greed has produced folds about his eyes.

      That evil smiled has puckered his mouth.

      The wolf and pig struggles together in his face.

      Robert Louis StevensonFormer Cubs’ fan

    • SuzyS

       Aaron, with the new cba, if it is in fact enforced…getting more $$$ in 3 years as the #1 pick doesn’t really make sense with the slotting system.
      I’m sure Boras and others are going to test and push the new system to it’s limits…and find any loopholes they can…BUT…as the system stands…it’s better to sign then “lose” 3 years of earning power. (IMHO)

      • Aaron

        It does, if you believe the system won’t last (which I believe it will HAVE to be amended before then, or teams, like the Pirates are about to find out, just won’t be able to compete). It was all about “fairness” and “leveling the playing field” blah blah blah….no different than politics nowadays if you ask me.

        Anyhow, they’ve clearly overreached. The system WAS working, but the problem is, the fat cats like the Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox (Reinsdorf pockets so much money it’s ridiculous) among others complained about the system, so Selig catered to them. Now, you’re not going to see the D’Backs, Blue Jays, Brewers, Rays, Rangers, etc. of recent years where they were able to turn around the fortunes of their franchises through the draft and international free agency. 

        Now, it doesn’t really matter if you’re the Yankees, Red Sox, etc. and are competing for championships every damn year, and make 100′s of millions every year, in addition to having $100+million payrolls…or if you’re the Pirates, who can’t draw fans due to a history of non-competitive teams in recent years, thus making you spend more on the afforementioned draft and international free agency.

        Hopefully I am making sense. 

  • BosephHeyden

    Can we just call this what it is?  Hoyer and Epstein probably scouted this kid more than anyone else, were dead set on drafting him, yet probably forgot to ask the important questions to him, such as “Would you sign with us if we drafted you?” or “Do you want to be a Cub?”

    Everything that kid said in that article was bureaucratic nonsense.  He either wants to play for the Cubs, or he figures (and probably rightfully so, because right now he’s definitely not at his peak) that he can get more money in a future draft and play for a team that hasn’t settled on a course for the next 6 years that happens to involve a very likely 100 loss season in the first year that features poor performances by most every player on the current MLB roster (though, if that’s the case, he might wind up being stuck with the Cubs, because if they get the #1 pick, chances are he won’t be it).

    • John_CC

      Are you really saying that you think they just forgot to think about and ask Boras is the kid would sign?

      • RynoTiger

        I think Boseph has a point…this one time I was doing staff interviews and I mistakenly overlooked adding a simple question..it was “Are you alive?”  and stupid me, I accidentally hired the corpse of Jim Varney!  Boy did I feel like a fool. 

        Luckily it worked out and we are able to keep the corpse on staff and use it for decoration during Halloween time.  Our office wins Best Decorations each year!

        • BosephHeyden

           Ummm…why WOULDN’T you keep Jim Varney?  That’s an interview that requires no questions, my friend.  You simply look at the man, throw out a few “Verne’s”, and hand the man a blank check.

      • BosephHeyden

         Yes.  But in their defense, I don’t think a lot of teams bothered to check into that.  Because it’s likely one of those taboo questions that “you just don’t ask.”

        To elaborate a little further, Aaron’s above post says pretty much everything I could think of.  The scouting report on the kid showed that, like the 500+ other kids out there for the draft, he has potential, he can do such and such with the ball, can defend…but the main thing everyone kept saying about him is that he was a class act, great character, standup guy, future clubhouse leader…every single one of those things was dispelled IN UNDER 24 HOURS when it became obvious he wanted to make a ton of money before he has stepped out on the field, will play hardball to get it with an agent that has a history of making sure his guys are overpaid, and is likely being choosey on which team gets to offer him that money.  So that shows that, likely, not only did at least 28 of the other teams not ask to see if he was certain on being getting into pro ball this year, it also tells me that all 30 teams were wrong with their character judgements.

        But it’s not just a Theo/Hoyer thing, it’s a baseball thing:  I think Colin Cowherd summed the sport up as far as its tendencies to not giving up their old ways (either with technology or ideas) by describing it as “grandpa making fun of e-mail.”

        • Wavin’_Wendell

          I’m betting that Boras is just trying to give his client as much leveraging power as possible. He obviously told Almora to publicly say his priority is college so that they back the Cubs into a corner and force Theo to make a higher offer than he wanted to. Even with the new CBA restrictions, Boras will ALWAYS try and get as much money for his clients as possible.
          Also, I would assume that most players that sign with Boras do so because they know he can get them the best deal. Not because he’ll advise them to go to college.

          • DWalker

             Yeah, Anytime you see a player is represented by Boras, you know it because they want to erk every cent they can out of that contract. I would not be surprised if Boras gave a script ot every one of his draft clients with strict instructions to not get too happy in public. I expect he will sign, but he’ll probably drag it out as long as possible. As long as he is paid, he has plenty of time to rebuild his rep. most fan’s won’t remember this in a year.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs selected CF Rashad Crawford from Mundy’s Mill HS, GA in the 11th round (Pick 344)

    • HitNation

      Good Kid…Great arm out there. Can hit the ball well.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs selected RHP Justin Amlung from Louisville in the 12th round (Pick 374)

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs selected OF Bijan Rademacher from Orange Coast College, CA  in the 13th round (Pick 404)

  • Aaron

    Starting with their last selection in the 10th round, I’m going to give you guys some stats of these guys they’ve selected (outside of high school guys selected, as there are no reliable stats in most cases):

    Corbin Hoffner-5-5, 2.52 ERA, 14 games, 71 IP, 60 hits, 16 walks, 73 K’s

    Bijan Rademacher-.349/.426/.582, 7 doubles, 7 hr, 49 RBI, 18 walks, 17 K’s

    Justin Amlung-8-4, 2.36 ERA, 15 starts, 103 IP, 77 hits, 23 walks, 100 K’s

    Chad Martin-2-3, 4.79 ERA, 19 games, 9 starts, 67 IP, 80 hits, 27 walks, 47 K’s, 1.58 WHIP

    Chadd Krist-.294/.325/.434, 19 doubles, 4 hr, 36 RBI, 9 walks, 18 K’s

    Michael Heesch-9-3, 2.21 ERA, 18 starts,122 IP, 115 hits, 13 walks, 118 K’s

    Stephen Bruno-.362/.418/.549, 20 doubles, 6 hr, 48 RBI, 14 walks, 24 K’s

    Trey Lang-2-2, 0.87 ERA, 31 IP, 16 hits, 14 walks, 31 K’s

    Josh Conway-4-1, 2.14 ERA, 54 IP, 43 hits, 18 walks, 50 K’s

    Pierce Johnson-3-6, 2.55 ERA, 13 starts, 91 IP, 79 hits, 26 walks, 112 K’s

    ….I’ll add more later….Some interesting picks, that’s for sure

    • John_CC

       All the pitcher’s sport pretty nice control ratios don’t they? 

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs selected RHP Corbin Hoffner from St Petersburg College, FL in the 14th round (Pick 434)

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs selected C Carlos Escobar from University of Nevada-Reno in the 15th round (Pick 464)