A year ago, a Mater Academy (Fla.) outfielder who was committed to play ball at Miami ended up being selected sixth overall in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Like Cubs prospect Albert Almora, outfielder Willie Abreu has established himself as one of the best prospects in South Florida, but it took until the 14th round of the 2013 Draft for the Reds to select the Hurricanes commit with the 435th overall pick.
The two players have often been compared to each other, and Abreu told Pat Hickey of Baseball America that Almora drove him to be better.
"[Almora] was max effort in everything he did, on and off the field," Abreu said. "I try to approach everything the same way."
Abreu's best tool is his power. He creates good loft with his left-handed swing and has the ability to drive the ball to all parts of the ballpark. This spring, Abreu batted .513 (39-for-76) with six home runs and 26 RBIs.
"Willie's a big kid, strong kid," said Chris Buckley, Reds senior director of amateur scouting. "Like most high-school kids, he's probably not totally done growing. He'll probably still get a little bit bigger and stronger, so we would see him more as a corner type guy."
His plus arm profiles well in right field in the pros, but he must improve his hitting ability in order to succeed at the next level. However, Abreu probably will always hit more for power than average.
For Buckley and the Reds, the challenge now will be getting Abreu to sign a professional contract instead of sticking with the Hurricanes.
"We hope [chances] are good," Buckley said. "We've had a lot of conversations with him. My two scouts down there, Miguel Machado and Tony Arias, we've signed a lot of players from down there. We hope he wants to be a Red. Yes, he is signed, and a lot of the kids down there are signed to Miami, so that's certainly nothing we haven't dealt with before."
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.