This starts NorthSiders Report series on over 100 Cubs prospects, from Arismendy Alcantara to Tony Zych.
Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, 22 (10/29/91), Bats: Both, Throws: Right, Height: 5-foot-10, Weight: 170 pounds
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—# 7
Acquired: Signed as a free agent in Nov. 3, 2008
Alcantara showed he could play in his first pro season hitting .275/349/.415 with 20 SB as a 17-year-old in the DSL in 2009. In his first year stateside at Boise, he turned in a slash line of .283/.315/.402 and led the Northwest League with six triples in 59 games. He continued his climb up the ladder in 2011 playing 99 games in the Midwest League for Peoria (.271/.303/.352) that included two trips to the disabled list.
At Daytona in 2012, Alcantara earned mid-season all-star honors in the Florida State League and put his name on the Cubs prospect map. He was hitting .302/.339/.447, all career full-season highs, swiped 25 bases, and hit a career-high seven homers to go along 51 RBI. His season came to an abrupt end when he broke his ankle in July.
Alcantara didn't miss a beat after returning from the injury as the 21-year-old completed his first full season at AA Tennessee appearing in 133 games. It was a huge year for the Dominican, earning Southern League mid-season and post-season all-star honors, homered as a member of the World Team at the Futures All-Star Game in July, and was named to MiLB's AA All-Star team.
He recorded season highs in most offensive categories but impressed with 15 homers to go along with 31 stolen bases. The switch-hitter really progressed with his pitch recognition, walking 62 times after drawing 75 free passes through his first four seasons. The drastic increase in walk percentage (10.9% in 2013 vs. 5.3% in 2012) also coincided with Alcantara's impressive .352 OBP despite hitting just .271. His strikeout rate also rose 5% over 2012 as he fanned 125 times.
Smokies manager Buddy Bailey complimented Alcantara's maturation citing his pitch selection as one area of improvement. "He's getting older and stronger. If you look at his walk totals from previous years, they've gone up this year. His pitch selection is getting better. If you are going to be a good hitter, you have to have good pitch selection."
Alcantara excelled from the left-side of the plate hitting 14 of his homers with a slash of .280/.359/.478 in 420 plate appearances. He only hit .246 from the right-side but was limited to 151 plate appearances. Starting the year at shortstop (66 G, 20 E, .933 %), Alcantara moved to second full-time when Javier Baez was promoted and finished with a .954 % in 64 games. Alcantara has a strong arm and good hands but sometimes gets sloppy on routine plays leading to unnecessary errors. He ended the year playing in the Dominican Winter League for Licey but hit .200 (10-50) in 17 games.
Tennessee hitting coach Desi Wilson had plenty of accolades for Alcantara. "He's on base quite a bit this year compared to last year and he has his power numbers and that comes from him being patient and looking for his pitch and just having that selective approach, which we're trying to do here to all of the players here in this organization. He has all the tools in the world, just trying to put everything together and just making routine plays and having an approach at the plate from both sides of the plate and just understand the game and he's come a long ways."
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer has already said Alcantara will start 2014 in AAA and with trade talks swirling about Darwin Barney, its feasible he could reach Wrigley Field before a September call-up. However, there's no need to rush the 22-year-old and he may be well served to spend most of the season playing everyday in AAA, working on his defense and continue to pile up quality at-bats. With his ability to play both middle infield positions, Alcantara's future may be as a utility/platoon player, emphasized by his great speed and base stealing ability.
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On Deck : Albert Almora