Cubs name OF Almora, RHP De La Cruz August players of the month

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Photo by Stephen Green

The Cubs named Double-A Tennessee outfielder Albert Almora and Single-A Eugene right-handed pitcher Oscar De La Cruz the organization’s Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for August on Thursday.

Almora, 21, batted .352 (44-for-125) with 14 doubles, one triple, one home run, 22 runs scored, 15 RBI and 11 walks in 31 August games for Tennessee. He recorded a .413 on-base percentage and a .504 slugging percentage, good for a .917 OPS. The right-handed hitter also logged a 13-game hitting streak (.434/23-for-53) from Aug. 4-16 that included seven-straight multi-hit games. He finished the month with 14 multi-hit games and hit safely in 28 of his 31 contests.

For the month, Almora led the Southern League in batting average and doubles, as well as tied for first in hits, second in runs scored, fourth in OPS, and seventh in OBP and slugging percentage. This season he is hitting .276 with 26 doubles, four triples, six homers and 69 runs scored in 104 games, all with Tennessee.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Almora was selected by the Cubs in the first round (sixth overall) of the 2012 draft. In his fourth season of professional baseball, he has batted .289 with 82 doubles, 13 triples and 20 home runs in 323 minor league games.

De La Cruz, 20, went 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA (9 ER/29.2 IP) in five starts with Eugene, striking out 32 batters and walking just five. He held opponents to a .209 average and a .250 on-base percentage while posting a 0.94 WHIP. He allowed zero earned runs in three of his five outings and did not walk more than one batter in four of his five starts.

De La Cruz led the Northwest League in August in innings pitched, strikeouts, opponents average and WHIP, while tying for the lead in wins and ranking sixth in ERA. He earned Pitcher of the Week honors for Aug. 24-30 after striking out a career-high 13 batters in 7.0 innings on Aug. 26 versus Spokane. He picked up the win that day, as he allowed just one hit and one unearned run in the Emeralds 4-1 triumph.

After spending each of the last two seasons with the Cubs Dominican Summer League team, De La Cruz is in his first season with Eugene and was named a Northwest League Midseason All-Star. He has gone 6-3 with a 2.84 ERA in 13 starts for the Emeralds, striking out 73 batters and walking just 17. He has recorded a 1.00 WHIP and held opponents to a .211 average. Originally signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in October of 2012, the Dominican Republic native has gone 15-4 with a 2.60 ERA in 31 career minor league outings, all but three as a starter.

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