Cubs

Albert Almora named Cubs minor league player of the month

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Albert Almora named Cubs minor league player of the month

People have been waiting for things to fully click with Albert Almora for a while.

That moment may be here if the last five weeks are any indication.

Almora - the first draft pick of Theo Epstein's rebulit front office with the Cubs back in 2012 - had a scorching August, earning the organization's minor league player of the month as announced Thursday.

[RELATED - Dexter Fowler, Austin Jackson and open space for 2016 Cubs in center field]

The Double-A Tennessee outfielder played in 31 games in August, hitting .352 with a .917 OPS, clubbing 14 doubles, one homer and one triple while driving in 15 runs and scoring 22. He showed patience with 11 walks to only 13 strikeouts and even stole a pair of bases.

From Aug. 4-16, Almora had a 13-game hitting streak that also featured seven straight games with multiple hits. He led the Southern League in hits, average, doubles and was second in runs scored during the month.

Almora is still only 21 and found his name on top prospect lists prior to the 2015 season (38th on Baseball Prospectus, 57th on MLB.com), even if he fell of Baseball America's Top 100 list.

Almora's hot month has helped his overall numbers look solid in his fourth season in the Cubs system. He's up to a .276 average and .736 OPS now, with 26 doubles, four triples and six homers in 2015.

He also has set a new career best with 31 walks, starting to show the patience and plate approach the Cubs have been hoping for. Add that to his miniscule strikeout rate (only 46 whiffs in 399 at-bats) and it looks like he's making some adjustments at the plate to go with his stellar defense in center field.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

Right-handed pitcher Oscar De La Cruz, a 20-year-old with class-A Eugene, earned the Cubs' minor league pitcher of the month honor after going 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA in five starts.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa is heating up, but even a red-hot Sosa doesn't automatically equal wins for the Cubs.

Slammin' Sammy notched his first multi-homer game in 1998 in a 9-5 loss to Kevin Millwood and the Atlanta Braves. Sosa drove in 4 of the Cubs' 5 runs on a solo shot in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 8th. 

Sosa tallied 830 feet of homers in the game, with his first blast going 410 feet and the second shot measured at 420 feet.

The big game bumped Sosa's overall season slash line to .337/.411/.551 (.962 OPS) with 11 homers and 35 RBI.

Fun fact: Mickey Morandini hit second for the Cubs in this game and went 4-for-4, but somehow only scored one run despite hitting just in front of Sosa all game. That's because Morandini was caught stealing to end the 3rd inning, leaving Sosa to lead off the 4th inning with a solo blast.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: If Cubs somehow miss the playoffs will Joe Maddon's seat start heating up?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: If Cubs somehow miss the playoffs will Joe Maddon's seat start heating up?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Nick Friedell (ESPN.com) and Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times) join David Kaplan on the panel.

The guys discuss Welington Castillo’s 80-game PED suspension, the Cubs struggles and if Joe Maddon could be on the hot seat if the Cubs somehow miss the playoffs in 2018.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: