Sep 15, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Arismendy Alcantara catches a fly ball hit by Cincinnati Reds second baseman Kris Negron (not pictured) during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Arismendy Alcantara – #7 – Outfield/Second Base
Before the likes of Javier Baez and Jorge Soler arrived in Chicago last season, speedster Arismendy Alcantara was already bringing his talents to the Friendly Confines. Much less-hyped than either of the aforementioned names, Alcantara relies more on his legs to get things done – both in the field and the batter’s box.
His promotion was certainly well-warranted after he dominated the scene at Triple-A Iowa, batting .307/.353/.537 in 89 games with the Cubs, also swiping 31 bases (caught just six times), slapping 36 doubles and hitting 10 home runs. However, that success did not carry over to the Windy City, as Alcantara, who entered 2014 as the 89th-best prospect in baseball per Baseball Prospectus, struggled down the stretch for Chicago.
In 300 plate appearances, the switch-hitting utilityman barely kept his head above the Mendoza Line, batting .205/.254/.367 across 70 games. He struck out 93 times and his speed, which made him so dangerous in the Minors, was largely a non-factor. He swiped eight bases, but was caught five times – although he did add 11 doubles and 10 homers for Chicago. Outside of his offensive woes, some credit has to be given to Alcantara, who learned center field on the fly last season, spending the majority of his time in the outfield after appearing in just 11 games there in his Minor League career.
Heading into next season, Steamer projections show a marked improvement at the plate for Alcantara, who also played second base at times for the Cubs last summer, with a line of .245/.295/.392 with 14 long-balls, 59 RBI and 24 doubles. His speed could play a larger role on the basepaths – something Chicago sorely lacked last season, as he his slated for 20 steals next year.
If Alcantara can get on base at a respectable clip and take advantage of his speed, he could be a very valuable weapon for Joe Maddon at the top of the order ahead of the likes of Soler, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro.