Almora breaks out in Florida State League

Cubs prospect homers, drives in three runs following team meetings

Albert Almora has a .327 batting average over three Minor League seasons. (Aldrin Capulong/Daytona Cubs)

By Kelsie Heneghan / | April 13, 2014 1:26 AM ET

Sometimes it helps to talk it out.

After a couple of team meetings, the Daytona Cubs turned a 1-7 record into a 7-1 victory over Tampa as Albert Almora homered, doubled and drove in three runs on Saturday night at Steinbrenner Field.

"We just wanted to break out," Almora said. "We just talked about a lot of things, just to [have] trust in our abilities and to go have fun and let our game do the talking."

The Cubs' No. 3 prospect put Daytona ahead for good with his first Florida State League homer, a two-run shot in the opening inning. The Cubs collected 11 hits to halt a five-game losing streak.

Almora started the season with back-to-back hitless games, then went 5-for-6 on April 5 at Brevard County.

"It was more mental than physical," the Florida native said. "It's not about trying to get a hit, but [trying] to have quality at-bats and just have a quality outcome. And it just worked out for me."

In front of his family and friends,'s No. 17 overall prospect scored twice and raised his batting average to .324 in nine games. Now that he's playing in the FSL, Almora looks forward to seeing familiar faces in the stands more often.

Plagued by injuries last season, the 19-year-old outfielder made the most of his time with Class A Kane County, hitting .329 with 23 RBIs in 61 games. Following his first full season, Almora was invited to big league camp, where he posted a .400/.400/.467 slash line in nine games.

"Swing hasn't changed much, just trying to make contact with the ball. If they leave the park, they leave the park, but that's not my goal," said Almora, the sixth overall pick in the 2012 Draft. "I have other guys that can get me in."

Among the "other guys" were Marco Hernandez, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI and Cubs No. 10 prospect Dan Vogelbach, who contributed a two-run single.

Daytona starter Rob Zastryzny (1-0) got the win, limiting the Yankees to a run on seven hits while striking out five over 5 2/3 innings. It was a turnaround for the 22-year-old southpaw, who gave up four runs on six hits in four innings in his season debut.

"Rob did a phenomenal job," Almora said. "I told him before the game, 'Don't be scared if they hit it to hit to center field, I'm going to be there for you.' [Our defense wasn't] there at first, but we are there now and our pitchers don't need to strike all these guys out."

Yankees starter Dan Camarena (0-2) was roughed up for five runs -- four earned -- on five hits over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out five.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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