Before new Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero and Jon Lester were acquired by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, the Chicago Cubs relied on the likes of their young guns such as Tsuyoshi Wada, Kyle Hendricks, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, and Arismendy Alcantara.
Sure, the Cubs had first baseman Anthony Rizzo in the mix, but he’s more of the veteran of the group even though he’s still young. The original piece of Theo’s new look team is, in fact, the leader of this baseball team.
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Now after the season came to a close, most fans expected Soler, Baez, Wada, Hendricks, and Alcantara to make the Opening Night roster in 2015. After camp broke, three rookies who made their big league debut just a year ago made the 25-man roster for the Cubs.
Wada, 34, fell to a left groin injury near the end of spring, forcing him to make rehab starts with the Triple-A affiliate before finding his way back onto the main roster when healthy. With Baez spending time with the Iowa Cubs in order to fix his approach in the batter’s box, Alcantara and Soler were expected to carry over their play to the new season full of high expectations.
Alcantara – who was called up after Darwin Barney was placed on the maternity list – ended his first big league year with 10 home runs, 29 RBI, two triples, 11 doubles, 57 hits and a batting line of .205/.254/.367 in 278 at-bats.
While Jorge Soler has finally gotten things going, Alcantara, on the other hand, has struggled. In 24 at-bats, Chicago’s utility man has only recorded two hits including his lone RBI coming on a walk-off single this past Monday against the Cincinnati Reds. Not only has he struck out nine times, but he’s currently hitting .083/.241/.083.
As a minor league, Alcantara climbed his way through each affiliate as time went on, proving to be a valuable bat in the lineup. Each year he found himself on a different level of play ranging from 2009 with the DSL Cubs, all the way up to 2015 with the major league Cubs.
A broken foot during the 2012 campaign as a member of the Daytona Cubs limited his playing time.
The start of this season doesn’t necessarily reflect on how good of a player he actually is. In 2006 minor league at-bats, Alcantara has a career 40 home runs, 254 RBI, 162 walks, 41 triples, 104 doubles and 570 hits to go along with a .284/.337/.437 line.
Struggling at the plate resulted in Arismendy losing his starting job to infielder Jonathan Herrera. This resulted in Alcantara coming off the bench for the Cubs, which hasn’t paid off just yet. Before ringing in the New Year, I took the time to compare both Alcantara and future Hall of Famer Jose Reyes – claiming that he could eventually become our very own Reyes in the future.
If he’s unable to get things under control and improve his offensive production, Alcantara may find himself getting replaced by Tommy La Stella once his time on the disabled list is up. It’s doubtful the Cubs end up trading for infield help around the trade deadline, so Herrera appears to be the primary second baseman until Maddon knows Arismendy is coming around.