Almora hits 1st MLB HR, makes fine diving catch

June 29th, 2016

CINCINNATI -- In the top of the fourth inning Wednesday, Cubs rookie outfielder Albert Almora Jr. made his first career trot around the bases.

On a 1-1 pitch from Reds rookie Cody Reed, Almora drove it to right-center field, clearing the wall for a 399-foot homer, according to Statcast™. It was Almora's first career home run, and he finished the game 1-for-3 with a walk as the Cubs went on to beat the Reds, 9-2, at Great American Ball Park.

"I didn't know it was going to go over the fence when I first hit it," Almora said. "I just knew I hit it well. It was a pretty exciting feeling, helped the team out."

Since being recalled from the Minors on June 7 to replace Jorge Soler, who went on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, the Cubs' No. 5 prospect according to has started 10 games and appeared in 10 others either as a defensive replacement or pinch-hitter. He started Wednesday in place of Jason Heyward, who got a routine day off against the lefty Reed.

Almora has played well for the Cubs when he's started, hitting .297 with five extra-base hits and four RBIs. Overall, he's hitting .286 with a .327 OBP. He also showed off some nice glove work in the seventh inning, robbing Brandon Phillips of a base hit with a diving catch in center field.

"He's another guy, he came out really strongly and then had a couple tough at-bats, but that was nice," manager Joe Maddon said.

Almora was tearing up pitching at Triple-A Iowa before being called up, hitting .318/.335/.444. While he has never hit more than nine homers in a Minor League season, he has been able to use his speed to get extra-base hits -- he had 18 in 214 at-bats this season and has a .420 career slugging percentage in the Minors.