Cubs give Almora a taste of Wrigley

CHICAGO -- Instead of the full tour, this time Chicago Cubs first-round pick Albert Almora got the full workout.

Now that the minor-league season is complete, the Cubs gave their prized outfield prospect the opportunity to not see his ultimate destination Friday, but take some swings at Wrigley Field as well.

Almora shagged fly balls, and as batting practice came to a close he took some hacks in the cage with the last group, connecting on two home runs in his final hitting session.

“Amazing,” Almora said if his day with the big-league club. “I was in center field and you don’t know how much history has been on this field. I’m very blessed and very thankful.”

The last time Almora was in Chicago it was just for a quick stop to sign his contract. This visit let him stretch his legs a little more.

“It’s typical for a first-round pick to come to the city and having a signing ceremony,” president Theo Epstein said. “In Albert’s case, because he wanted to get out and play right away we just delayed it until he was done playing before (going to) instructional league, and the same with (Jorge) Soler.”

Soler, who was a high-profile international signing this summer, will get the Wrigley Field treatment on Saturday.

Almora said he will be in Chicago until Sunday then leave directly to Arizona for the instructional league.

From high school baseball in Florida, to the Arizona Fall League and then on to Single-A Boise, where the club came four outs away from winning the championship, it has been a whirlwind year for Almora. And the year isn't even finished.

In 33 games between the Arizona Rookie League and the Northwest League, he batted .321 with a .331 on-base percentage and a .464 slugging percentage. He even drove in 19 runs with a home run for each club.

“It’s been overwhelming, but it’s been a nice ride; it’s awesome,” Almora said. “I met a great group of guys down there (in Arizona) and then Boise. We had a couple playoff teams and then we got to the championship with Boise. I wish we would have won but we had a great time and we had fun.”

Not wanting to break any rules now that he was in Chicago, Almora was careful to ask even the simplest of questions, including those about uniform protocol.

“That was the first thing, I asked ‘Do I have to show sock here?’” said Almora, who warmed up while showing high socks, but covered them before he hit. “They said ‘You’re in the show, you can do whatever you want here.’ It was awesome.

“Even before (signing) they were making me part of the family. It was one of the best experiences in my life. To know I have a bigger family with this organization that wants me here is awesome.”