Arismendy Alcantara‘s role with the Chicago Cubs this year is yet to be determined. With a mix of up-and-coming prospects and veterans alike, though, should he be worried as Spring Training begins for the team in Arizona?
If you ask me, not at all. Alcantara may just be the most overlooked piece to the puzzle for Chicago; he could very well prove to be a game-changer. Joe Maddon loves versatile players like Alcantara, as evidenced by his past work as a big league skipper.
The young utilityman, who tore up Triple-A Iowa before his promotion to Chicago last season, showed how well he can adjust to being at one position on one day and the next be somewhere different, despite his struggles at the dish. That is a manager’s dream player and no manager has a more creative mind as Maddon.
The first-year Cubs skipper had a similar player in Tampa Bay in Ben Zobrist. Maddon moved Zobrist all over the diamond. Using him in such a fashion turned Zobrist into one of the most valuable players in the Rays’ organization.
As much as Maddon loved his Tampa Bay utilityman, Alcantara has even more to offer. Zobrist didn’t have the speed or the defensive ability that Alcantara has already shown in a brief big league stint. This just makes Alcantara even more of a treat for a manager like Maddon, who is known for getting the most out of his players.
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While last year Alcantara started out hot with his bat – he did get into quite the slump that saw his average plummet to .205 by season’s end. With those struggles, I’m sure his confidence dropped, as well. But in winter ball this year, the 23-year-old found his swing again and showed signs of the player we expected.
If Alcantara can take what he did in winter ball and do that during the regular season, his value will be off the charts for the team moving forward.
He may not win a starting job right out of Spring Training this year, but it likely won’t be due to any fault of his own. With the great deal of uncertainty surrounding Javier Baez and Kris Bryant and the duo’s respective roles this year, two infield positions are very much up-in-the-air at this point.
Maddon may decide that he wants to set a lineup depending on the pitcher, something he did extensively with the Rays. If that happens, Alcantara will play accordingly. So while Alcantara may not “win” a spot, his role on this Cubs team is set as the team’s go-to guy – meaning he’ll ‘go’ to where he’s needed.