The prospect-rich Chicago Cubs have many unknowns swirling around their team, like where Kris Bryant will start the season, whether or not Javier Baez can stop striking out and if Jorge Soler can be an elite right fielder this season. With all the hoopla in Mesa, there’s one prospect who has almost been a forgotten man.
Arismendy Alcantara is as close to a mystery as a player can get. We know the other prospects will get their shot this season at some point, and Alcantara will too, but will he be given as many chances as the bigger names?
The Cubs traded for Dexter Fowler in January, a move that could show the Cubs don’t fully believe in Alcantara. Fowler’s batting average has hovered around .270 the past two seasons, but he hit .300 in 2012. The 29-year-old veteran has shown that he is a decent major league hitter who can hit from both sides of the plate.
It’s unlikely the Cubs traded for him to come and be a backup, so he will most likely get the bulk of the playing time with Alcantara on the bench. It begs the question; do the Cubs think Alcantara will be a successful player?
Alcantara was the first of the big name prospects to be called up last season. He showed that he’s a speedy utility man, but a spotty hitter. He was unable to replicate the .307 batting average he had in over half a season at Iowa last year, but it was his first major league call-up.
Alcantara struggled at the plate in his half-season in the majors, hitting .205 with 93 strikeouts in 300 plate appearances. He has been impressive so far this spring though, posting a .303 batting average in 13 games.
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It’s possible he could take over second base if Baez struggles and gets benched, or sent down to Iowa. Baez has been unable to break his Brett Jackson-esqe habit of striking out too much. He had a strikeout percentage of 41.5% in his debut season and this spring he has a .159 batting average with 16 strikeouts in 47 plate appearances.
Manager Joe Maddon could give Alcantara some chances to play at the beginning of the season to see what he’s got, but if he doesn’t show improvement, Alcantara’s 2015 season in Chicago could be a short one.