Albert Almora didn’t get the usual celebrity signing treatment with the Cubs as a first round draft pick in June. He was more interested in getting to Mesa, Arizona to begin playing.
So Friday became the Florida native’s introduction to the field after finishing his season with the Class A Boise Hawks,who reached the championship game of the Northwest League playoffs.
“This is one of the best days of my life,” said Almora, 18, an outfielder who hit .292 in 15 games with the Hawks after playing 18 games with the Mesa Cubs in rookie ball. “All the guys are great. To be honest, it was heaven to be in that clubhouse.”
Almora was in Chicago in July to sign his contract and got a quick tour of the ball park but then left for Mesa. He took batting practice Friday with the Cubs and will stay until Sunday.
He will then go to the fall Instructional League in Arizona.
“To be honest, it was heaven to be in that clubhouse,” he said of Friday. “I was standing in center field and thinking about all the history here.”
Saturday will be prospect Jorge Soler’s turn to see Wrigley Field. The Cuban defector who signed a $30 million deal with the Cubs this summer played with Almora at Mesa before being promoted to Class A Peoria.
“I communicated best with him. We tried to take it one step at a time,” he added of not projecting what their future might be in the majors.
Soler, 20, hit .389 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 14 games at Mesa, then hit .338 with three homers and 15 RBI at Peoria. Soler, Almora and shortstop Javier Baez, 19, who was selected last season under then-general manager Jim Hendry’s tenure, are considered the organization’s top prospects. Baez hit .333 in 57 games at Peoria before being promoted to Class A Daytona for the last 23 games.