Albert Almora shows off his tools
Outfielder Albert Almora was quick to share some words of wisdom when asked what he expected out of himself during his time spent at City of Palms Park as part of the 2011 Perfect Game National Showcase.
“Just play hard, come here with the right mindset and have some fun. Wake up every day and play baseball, play my game.”
If Albert Almora wasn't already awake this morning when he took the field for the first game of Day 3 of the Perfect Game National Showcase, it didn't take long for him to get his wake-up call.
In his second at-bat, a pitch out of the hand of the Gray team's Malcolm Diaz grazed Almora's batting helmet as he dropped to the ground trying to avoid the ball. It was no fault to Diaz, and Almora quickly got up, brushed himself off, and confidently stepped back into the batter's box.
A few pitches later, he drilled a fastball that caught the outside corner of the plate up the middle to shallow right-centerfield. As soon as he noticed the outfielders loping towards the ball, he turned on the jets and headed to second.
On the very next pitch, he stole third base, and ended up scoring on a booming sacrifice fly to dead centerfield off the bat of Carlos Correa.
“Like my parents say, let baseball do the talking,” Almora said.
He speaks baseball very fluently given his recent history. His skills have always allowed him to play with players several years older than himself, and has played for Team USA's 18U, 16U and 14U teams each of the last three summers.
Almora has also played at numerous Perfect Game/WWBA tournament events, including the last two World Championships in Jupiter. However, the 2011 National is his first Perfect Game showcase.
“It's amazing,” Almora said of his experience. “Coming here with the best guys in the nation, I know most of them, but to come play with them and against them is a great honor.”
And in one at-bat this morning, he showed both the ability to hit and hit the ball hard while showcasing his game-changing speed. During the defensive drills on Thursday, he recorded 89 mph on his throws from right field, giving Almora exciting five-tool talent.
Much has yet to be done for Almora to achieve success similar to what his cousin Manny Machado, the third overall pick from the 2010 draft, has achieved, but he's willing to put in the time, effort and hard work to reach his full potential.
“It's going to be a very busy summer, but it's going to benefit me.”
Workout session recap
The Vegas Gold and White teams arrived in Fort Myers today, and were the last two teams to conduct the infield/outfield drills as part of the showcase.
Catchers Jovan Hernandez, Andrew Dunlap and Nelson Rodriguez all threw 80 or better, with Rodriguez posting the best time of this trio at 82. Rodriguez also hit 12 home runs as part of the preliminary round of the Rawlings Home Run Challenge. Visit Jeff Dahn's feature to read more about that.
Hunter Newman and Matthew Sharp both threw 88 from first, Bobby Zarubin showed the best arm from the infield at 92, and Andrew Pullin was the leader among the outfielders at 95.
To view all of the workout results, be sure to visit the Perfect Game National Showcase blog.
First of all, congratulations are in order to Perfect Game's Allan Simpson, who was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame today. Simpson currently serves as the Director of PG Crosschecker, Perfect Game's scouting service that focuses on the top draft-eligible prospects at the high school, college and junior college levels. He founded Baseball America in the garage of his home in 1980, and has been with Perfect Game since 2006. Please be sure to read both David Rawnsley's and Jeff Dahn's tribute to Allan when this honor was initially announced back in January.
• There were several hard hit balls during the first game of Day 3, Game 9 overall.
Tanner Rahier continues to put good swings on the ball, drilling an upper-80s fastball the opposite way to right-center for a double. Alex Bregman followed Rahier in the Gray team's order and drove him home with a double of his own, driving his off the wall in left.
Daniel Robertson also continues to hit the ball extremely well, turning on a low-90s fastball for what should have been a double down the left-field line if he hadn't stumbled rounding first. Another hitter on the Gray team, Mendez Elder, drilled a triple to deep left-center and showed really nice wheels rounding the bases.
In the same game for the Maroon squad, Glenn Sawyer hit a triple of his own to the gap in left-center, and was followed by another triple by Nathan Mikolas, this one to the alley in right.
• Cody Poteet entered the event as one of the top 2012 draft-eligible players, and threw his fastball well, consistently hitting 91, touching 92. Once he started getting his 75-77 curveball over more effectively he looked more confident with his fastball. He has a nice, athletic build and a live arm.
• Carlos Correa continues to look silky smooth on defense for the Maroon squad. He glides to balls effortlessly, moving well for an infielder of his size. He also displays a very strong and accurate arm.
• The theme returned to the pitchers for Game 10, particularly left-handers, as four pitchers faced the minimum six batters between the Navy and Green teams.
Right-hander Ryan McNeil offered a pro-style body with sturdy strength and a solid repertoire leading to four punchouts. He threw in the 88-91 range, consistently sitting 90-91 while touching 93, and also threw a sharp upper-70s slurvy curveball.
Left-hander Austin Fairchild doesn't have McNeil's prototype size, but he spun one of the prettier curveballs with tight break throw in the 76-78 range. He also sat at 89-91 and struck out five of the six batters he faced.
Fellow lefty Hunter Virant is one of the top prospects in the nation and showed why with a 91-92 fastball that touched 93 from a low three-quarters delivery. He had very nice command, working inside and out, and used his fastball well to set up his sweeping slider.
Another lefty, Mason Felt, followed Virant in the pitching order for Navy. He threw 87-89 and had a really nice, big slow curveball that he showed the ability to backdoor on right-handed hitters.
• The first run of Game 10 came on a solo home run by Skye Bolt. The switch-hitter, batting left-handed, ripped a hanging breaking ball down the right-field line and well out of City of Palms Park.
• Lucas Sims started Game 11 for the Red team and looked very sharp over his two innings of work. The right-hander pitched aggressively, striking out four with a 91-92 fastball that topped at 94 mph with a hard breaking 74-77 curveball.
• Josh Henderson continues to impress scouts and has been one of the more exciting developments at the National. He turned on a fastball and drove it down the rightfield line for a triple in Game 11. He has good, not great speed around the basepaths with long, loping strides.
• Columbia Blue's Brady Bramlett had a nice outing, showing nice command of a solid three-pitch repertoire including a 89-91 fastball and a sharp curveball. He's yet another right-hander with a 6-foot-4, 220-pound pro-style body.
• Game 12 featured a stable of impressive arms from the Purple team.
Carson Fulmer worked the first two innings, and it was surprising to see him hit around as much as he was as his fastball sat 92-94 and he mixed in a pretty nasty upper-70s curveball. He uses somewhat of an exaggerated delivery and offers a nice athletic frame.
Walker Weickel followed Fulmer, and was arguably the most impressive pitcher so far during the National Showcase. He has a tall, strong and still projectable frame. He threw 92-93 consistently touching 94, and threw two very effective secondary offerings in his mid-70s curveball and low-80s changeup. The speed differential and his ability to throw all of his pitches for strikes gives Weickel a near flawless repertoire.
Courtney Hawkins came in next, and pitched very efficiently, mostly off of his 88-91 fastball. He threw a few changeups and curveballs, but his fastball is his best pitch, and hitters had a difficult time catching up to it. He employs a low three-quarters, somewhat crossfire delivery that seems to create some deception, making it difficult for hitters to time his release.
Jonathan Sandfort threw the final two innings, another pitcher that sat 88-91 with a solid three-pitch repertoire. His strong, athletic 6-foot-5, 220-pound stature would lead you to believe he can improve upon his current stuff.
• Texas Orange featured a few intriguing arms from the same game.
I really liked Jason Carmichael's thin, wiry strong frame. There's plenty of room for him to improve upon his current 88-91 velocity, and he also throws a pretty nice curve and change. He struck out five in his two innings of work.
Max Fried offers a tall and lanky frame for a lefty, and a swing-and-miss fastball. He threw mostly fastballs and still was difficult to hit. He sat 89-91 and touched 92. Both his curveball and changeup have promise, but needs to throw both more consistently for strikes.
• C.J. Hinojosa hit one of the harder balls during the showcase in this game, hitting an absolute rocket off of Carmichael that bounced off the wall in left field for a double. Hinojosa has a smaller, compact and strong frame that generates impressive bat speed and overall power.
• Speaking of hard hit balls, Rhett Wiseman got Game 13 off in style by crushing a 90 mph fastball from Austin Wallace out of the stadium over the fence in right field.
• Austin Dean promptly led off the top of the second with a booming triple to deep left-center. Zach Green, batting next, clubbed a triple of his own, his an opposite field shot to the alley in right-center. Green added a bloop single to right later in the game, and has looked strong at the plate during the entire event.
• Anthony Alford added a double of his own later in the game, a booming opposite field shot to right-center in the seventh off of Jesse Winker.
• Of the game 13 pitchers, right-hander Alex Lavandero had a strong performance. He sat 88-91 with a slow, low-70s curveball. He offers a tall, projectable frame with wiry strong limbs.
• Be sure to read Jeff Dahn's features on Joey Gallo, Josh Henderson and the participants of the preliminary rounds of the Rawlings Home Run Challenge.
Contributing: Jeff Dahn.