Albert Almora, Mater Academy Star, Taken Sixth By Cubs In MLB Draft UPDATE

Hialeah Gardens' Mater Academy senior Albert Almora has one hell of a choice on his hands this morning -- whether to become a star playing college baseball for his hometown Canes, or whether to take an estimated $3.25 million bonus to join the Chicago Cubs system.

Almora tells the Miami Herald this morning after getting taken sixth overall in last night's MLB draft, "I have no idea what I'm going to do ... I'm not even thinking about money." Considering the slugging outfielder is represented by uber-agent Scott Boras, though, it's a fair bet that cash is going to win out in this battle.

Almora's lofty draft didn't shock anyone who's followed his career in Hialeah Gardens patrolling center field. Thanks to his quick bat speed, prodigious power and impressive instincts in center field, Almora turned scouts' heads all season.

Almora didn't have much trouble with Miami high school pitching. He hit a cool .500 in 15 games for Mater this season, tossing in 10 stolen bases and a pair of home runs for good measure. A line-drive spraying machine, it's easy to see why the Cubs and 'Canes want him.

He's not short on confidence either. After the Cubbies took him at number six last night (swiping him before the Marlins, who picked two spots later and also coveted the local star), he told the Herald: "I'm not going to lie. In my book, I was the No. 1 pick."

Based on MLB's draft bonus scale, the Cubs should offer Almora and Boras a $3.25 million bonus (though they can put more on the table and risk penalties.) He'll have to weigh that cash versus a scholarship offer from the University of Miami; with Boras on board, not many expect him to go the college route.

Almora is the third Miami-area high schooler to go in the top 10 of the draft in the last five years. Manny Machado (Brito) and Eric Hosmer (Plantation American Heritage) were each picked third overall in 2010 and 2008, respectively.

If the last two Miami-based high-school picks are any indication, the Cubs won't regret bringing Almora into the fold. Eric Hosmer, who made his Major League debut with Kansas City in 2011, tore his way through the minors and finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting last season. Machado, meanwhile, is steadily ascending through Baltimore's system, and was ranked as the No. 11 prospect in baseball by Baseball America before the season.

Almora wasn't the only South Florida high schooler to make the big first-round bucks last night. Nick Travieso, a pitcher from state champion Southwest Ranches Archbishop McCarthy, was picked up by the Reds at 14th overall.

If he signs, Almora will most likely join the Cubs' Gulf Coast League affiliate in Florida.

Update: The 2012 Draft hasn't been so great for next year's Hurricanes squad. Along with Almora and Travieso, the 'Canes could potentially lose recruits Carlos Correa, Keon Barnum and Walter Weickel, all of whom were first- or supplementary-round picks.

It's been better news for UM alums, as senior catcher Peter O'Brien heard his name called as the 95th overall pick. O'Brien, who spent his first three years at Bethune-Cookman before transferring to Miami, will join the New York Yankees' system. O'Brien is one of two Hurricanes to be drafted, with junior pitcher Eduardo Encinosa picked by the San Francisco Giants in Round Seven.

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