What To Expect: Arismendy Alcantara

With the white-flag trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, the Cubs can be expected to use the nominal second half of the season to see what they have for next season and beyond.

Arismendy Alcantara

Arismendy Alcantara (Photo by Tony Farlow)

The touted Core Four of Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler likely won’t see Wrigley this season, but one of the lesser-known but perhaps just as talented minor leaguers will.

Arismendy Alcantara got the call as the Cubs—who added Addison Russell in the Samardzija deal—want to see where Alcantara can fit into 2015. He actually is getting a sneak peek with a quick promotion to fill in during Darwin Barney’s paternity leave.

The switch-hitter, 22, is one of two players in the minor leagues this year with double-digit figures in doubles, triples, homers and stolen bases. The other is Orioles prospect Mike Yastrzemski, who hit for the cycle Saturday.

After moving him from shortstop to second base to accommodate Baez this year, the Cubs recently began playing Alcantara in center field to increase his versatility for a possible promotion, according to BA correspondent Gordon Wittenmyer.

“I feel like he’s the underappreciated guy in our system,” general manager Jed Hoyer told Wittenmyer. “We’re really excited for him.”

Scouting Report

Overshadowed in the organization and at Iowa by players such as Baez and Bryant, Alcantara has quietly had a great season. The switch-hitter has more power than his 5-foot-10 frame would suggest, with 44 extra-base hits this season, including 11 triples.

In 30 games leading to July 4, he was on a 29-game streak in which he was hitting .397 with a .441 on-base percentage, .612 slugging percentage, and was 10-for-11 in steals.

“I just get to home plate and try to take a good at-bat and see a good pitch and try to make contact,” Alcantara recently told the Des Moines Register.

Last season, Alcantara was taking a more patient approach, which led to by far his best walk total, but also more strikeouts. This season, he struggled with strike-zone discipline in April and May (50/11 strikeout-to-walk ratio), but that improved in June to 26-10.

He’s hitting far better against lefthanders than right (.387./422/.688 vs. .277/.323./481) but is still respectable against righties.

Alcantara is a pretty rare combination of power and speed and he brings with it lots of defensive versatility. Scouts believe he could be an above-average second baseman defensively, and some believe he’s even a usable shortstop, although that’s  a position he likely won’t be playing anytime soon in Chicago,

What To Expect

As with most first-year players, there will be the adjustment to the big leagues in the form of veteran pitchers and bigger stadiums. While Alcantara has an ISO of .231, his batting average on balls in play is a high .381, so his batting average might be a little higher than his true level. His walk rate has declined sharply from last season while his strikeout rate has stayed largely in line with career numbers.

Thanks to his positional versatility, he’d fit as a super utility type who could get playing time at a variety of spots. Alcantara could be a tremendous fantasy option as he could provide average, power and steals. He’d be an upgrade offensively at second base over Darwin Barney or Emilio Bonifacio and in center field over Justin Ruggiano.

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