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Chicago Cubs Player Profile: Albert Almora, Jr.

Almora today than yesterday suits me fine.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

His given name is Reinaldo Albert Almora. His Twitter handle is @albertalmora, though he hasn't tweeted since last November.

I come not to sing his praises, but to write them. Albert Almora Jr. has come a long way since 2012, when he was drafted sixth overall, Theo Epstein's first-ever first-round pick. It has taken a while for him to arrive in the Major Leagues for his cup of coffee, and, so far, it looks like he wants another.

We've all heard about his defense. You've surely seen some of the videos of amazing catches and other highlights. But Almora had garnered the reputation of a good-field, little-hit outfielder over the years. In Triple-A this year, there were positive signs of a turnaround, with Almora hitting at a fair clip, if not drawing as many bases on balls as one would prefer.

In a small sample size at the Major League level, he has thrived on the offerings of professional pitchers. Given the remarkable esprit de corps of this Cubs squad, one would be tempted to ascribe a lot of Almora's continued confidence to that influence. We'll see how it works out in the long run. I suspect there's more to Almora's innards than that.

He says he's been waiting for this moment all of his life, and it shows. Almora conducts himself with the poise and professional attitude of a veteran, both while plying his trade and while talking about it to reporters.

About that life -- Albert Almora, Jr. was born in Hialeah Gardens, Florida, on April 16, 1994. His father, Albert, Sr., was a baseball player in his native Cuba, and he helped young Albert with his training, beginning at the age of three. Albert Jr. reportedly spent so much time training that his mother Ana overheard other parents comment that the father believed his son was already a major leaguer.

Ana Almora recalled the moment when her son declared his intentions:

"I said, 'Son, you know it's a hard profession, and it's a lot of work  to get there. You have to be very dedicated,'" she said. "He goes, 'I  want to do it.' He hasn't done it yet, but he's on his way."

Also in that Tribune article, Almora praised his parents and his upbringing:

"They really preach respect, and I've always taken that to heart. I'm a quiet kid, just go out and do what I have to do. I  like to just shut up and not say anything, let my game do the talking.  It has worked so far."

He was drafted after finishing high school at Mater Academy Charter School, and was first assigned to the Kane County Cougars , who were one of the Cubs Single-A affiliates at the time, where he hit .329 in 61 games in 2013, missing some time with a broken hamate bone and a bone bruise. He played a bit more that year in the Arizona Fall League, and spent 2014 with the Tennessee Smokies, the Cubs' Double-A organization, and Daytona in the Florida State League.

The 2013 Tribune article quoted one of Almora's managers in the Cubs system:

"His aptitude is off the charts," [Mark] Johnson said. "If we talk about one  thing, something that happened in the game, we tell him one time and  that's it. For a kid his age, that's unusual."

In 2015, Almora returned to Tennessee, upping his OBP to .327 and slugging .400, improvements over his previous campaigns. He began 2016 with the Iowa Cubs (AAA), hitting .316 before being brought up to the parent club, where he is 6 for 17 and acts like he belongs. He told the Washington Post this past week:

"Dream come true, man," he said. "Twenty-two years, and I’ve been  playing baseball since I was 4 years old. This is what every kid dreams  about."