MESA, Ariz. -- As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Cubs camp, it was No. 5 prospect Albert Almora. Taken No. 6 overall by the Cubs in the
MESA, Ariz. -- As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Cubs camp, it was No. 5 prospect Albert Almora.
Taken No. 6 overall by the Cubs in the 2012 Draft, Almora had a solid season in 2015, spending all year in Double-A, and is one of the better defensive center fielders in baseball. He played for Team USA in the Pan Am Games, representing USA Baseball for a record seventh time.
MLBPipeline.com: When you see all the guys who came up last year and made an impact, did it ever get frustrating to you since it's taken a bit longer for things to click for you. Or is it a motivating thing for you?
Almora: I don't think it was frustrating. It just made me work that much harder. I have no control over any of that, so I was just having fun where I was. Things started clicking for me at the end of the year. Now I feel comfortable here. We'll have to see where it goes.
MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports
MLBPipeline.com: Was there anything in particular that was clicking, or was it just all the hard work starting to pay off?
Almora: What clicked the most was my mind, having the mindset, the confidence at playing the game was what clicked. I've always had the confidence defensively. I was trying to find it offensively. At the end of last year, I started finding it. Now I have it for all parts of my game and it's making me more comfortable here.
MLBPipeline.com: You've always taken so much pride in your defense. Where did that come from?
Almora: I don't know. That's a good question. Ever since I was a kid, everybody knew I was a good player in center, in the outfield. I've always tried to live up to that expectation. I take it really seriously. I don't like messing up. I've caught myself, if I make a mistake in the outfield, I take it a little more to heart than if I mess up hitting. I don't know why. If I misjudge a ball or I miss on a dive, I'll go to the video room to see what I did. Even if I chase a ball when I'm hitting, I won't do that as much. If I'm mad at myself, I'll try to take to take the anger out on the pitcher or the ball. Sometimes, it's a positive thing.
MLBPipeline.com: Playing for USA Baseball is such an important part of who you are as a player. How have you been able to maintain that while still trying to get yourself to the big leagues?
Almora: I've been blessed to have the opportunity. Last year, they invited me for the Pan Am Games, so I jumped on board. The Cubs gave me permission. I took full advantage of that opportunity. I can't say no. I don't want to; I want to play every time. I feel like it's my obligation to go play and represent the United States, every time they invite me, at least. I'm just blessed to be able to have done it seven times now. It's awesome and it's something I'll tell my kids and my grandkids.
MLBPipeline.com: Speaking of kids, we saw you're expecting your first. How does that change your perspective about everything?
Almora: It's incredible how you care for someone so much you haven't even met yet. It's a great process. We're having a lot of fun with it. I'm super-excited and it does put things into perspective. This is just a game. Life, family, that's serious. I'm excited to see how this all plays out.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow @JonathanMayo on Twitter.