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Almora 'speechless' at being drafted by Cubs

Almora 'speechless' at being drafted by Cubs

Almora 'speechless' at being drafted by Cubs
Albert Almora's high school graduation ceremony isn't until Friday, but already the Mater Academy (Fla.) senior has received a job offer from the Chicago Cubs that is sure to pay him millions of dollars.

The Cubs, picking sixth in Monday's 2012 First-Year Player Draft, selected Almora in a move that surprised no one in the industry. The Cubs had scouted Almora extensively and had a private workout with the center fielder on May 22 at St. Thomas University.

"I'm speechless," Almora said by phone, about an hour after he was drafted. "I don't remember much of anything that happened tonight. I know that the Cubs drafted me, and I'm grateful, but I'm still kind of shocked and overwhelmed."

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Now come the contract negotiations, and Almora is represented by Scott Boras. According to MLB's strict slotting system, Almora will likely receive a signing bonus of $3.25 million.

2012 Draft Central

If the Cubs exceed that specific dollar amount given to this slot in the Draft, they would be penalized by MLB. Going over slot by five percent or more would cost them a first-round pick. Going over by 15 percent would mean forfeiture of two first-round selections.

Should Almora decline the offer, he has a scholarship to the University of Miami, where Hurricanes coach Jim Morris would be thrilled to write him into his 2013 lineup. Almora has a 4.1 grade-point average and is a legitimate student. Almora, though, is expected to sign, although he wouldn't admit as much Monday night.

"Right now, I have no idea what I'm going to do," Almora said. "I'm not even thinking about money or anything. I'm just trying to take it all in and be happy."

The Cubs, of course, would be thrilled if Almora accepts their offer. Theo Epstein, the general manager who won two World Series in Boston, is now overseeing his staff's first Draft for the Cubs.

Almora, 18, won't offer immediate help -- no one drafted on Monday will. But Baseball America ranks Almora as the high school player who is closest to the big leagues.

The Cubs fell in love with Almora's defensive ability, in addition to his exceptional power, especially considering he has yet to fill out his 6-foot-2, 172-pound frame. The Marlins, who had the ninth pick, also had him in for a workout at their stadium -- but they never got a chance to draft the hometown phenom.

Chicago got there first, and the Cubs made a great pick, according to Eddie Gorriz, who coached Almora at Mater Academy.

"He is going to make everyone proud -- I know it," he said. "The city of Chicago will fall in love with Albert. They are true baseball fans in Chicago, and they will love the way he plays."

Almora was heavily scouted by virtually every team, and with all that interest and all that excitement, Almora said he's had some anxious moments in the past week.

"There were a couple days there that I wasn't able to sleep," Almora said. "But I finally got rest on Sunday. It was a good weekend."

Monday wasn't so bad, either. There were about 200 people in the Almora household in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., when the Cubs made their selection.

Almora's mother, Ana, ran to the living room when she heard her son had been drafted.

"I'm the happiest mom in the world," she said. "The first thing I did, before I even got to Albert, was hug the picture of my [late] parents. They loved Albert, and they deserved to be here more than anyone."

Almora's grandparents died late last year.

"This is the happiest day in Albert's life," Ana Almora said. "But there is a big gap there for him, too."

Walter Villa is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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