The Cubs announced Thursday its Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for August. The Cubs tabbed Double-A Tennessee’s Albert Almora Jr. the player of the month and Short-Season Class-A Eugene’s RHP Oscar De La Cruz the top pitcher of the month.
Albert Almora Jr., 21, batted .352 (44-for-125) with 14 doubles, one triple, one home run, 22 runs scored, 15 RBI and 11 walks in 31 August games for Tennessee. He recorded a .413 on-base percentage and a .504 slugging percentage, good for a .917 OPS. The right-handed hitter recorded a 13-game hitting streak (.434/23-for-53) from August 4-16, including seven-straight multi-hit games (.571/16-for-28), August 5-11. He finished the month with 14 multi-hit games and hit safely in 28 of his 31 contests.
Almora Jr. last month led the Southern League in average and doubles, ranked tied for first in hits, second in runs scored, fourth in OPS and seventh in OBP and slugging percentage. This season he is hitting .276/.330/.406 (110-for-399) with 26 doubles, four triples, six homers and 69 runs scored in 104 games, all with Tennessee, for a .736 OPS.
The six-foot, two-inch, 180-pound Almora was selected by the Cubs in the first round (sixth overall) of the 2012 Draft. In his fourth season of professional baseball, he has batted .289/.324/.418 (374-for-1,296) with 82 doubles, 13 triples and 20 home runs for a .742 OPS in 323 minor league games.
Oscar De La Cruz, 20, went 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA (9 ER/29.2 IP) in five starts with Eugene, striking out 32 batters and walking just five. He held opponents to a .209 average (23-for-110) and a .250 on-base percentage while posting a 0.94 WHIP. He allowed zero earned runs in three of his five outings and did not walk more than one batter in four of his five starts.
De La Cruz led the Northwest League in August in innings pitched, strikeouts, opponent’s average and WHIP, while tying for the lead in wins and ranking sixth in ERA. He earned Pitcher of the Week honors for August 24-30 after striking out a career-high 13 batters in 7.0 innings, August 26 vs. Spokane. He collected the win as he allowed just one hit and one unearned run in the Emeralds 4-1 triumph.
After spending each of the last two seasons with the Cubs Dominican Summer League team, De La Cruz is in his first season with Eugene and was named a Northwest League Midseason All-Star. He has gone 6-3 with a 2.84 ERA (23 earned runs in 73 innings) in 13 starts for the Emeralds, striking out 73 batters and walking just 17. He has recorded a 1.00 WHIP and held opponents to a .211 average. Originally signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in October of 2012, the Dominican Republic native has gone 15-4 with a 2.60 ERA (46 earned runs in 159 innings) in 31 career minor league outings, all but three as a starter.