Arismendy Alcantara's education continues with Cubs

Arismendy Alcantara's education continues with Cubs
August 11, 2014, 8:45 pm
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Tony Andracki

Alcantara makes a diving catch in center field during the Rays Saturday. (USPresswire)

Arismendy Alcantara has suddenly become the forgotten prospect on the Cubs.

Alcantara made big headlines when he was first called up in mid-July, collected four hits in just his second big-league game and injecting some life into the Cubs lineup.

But the 22-year-old outfielder has since gone into a slump while the Javier Baez Show has been the main attraction.

[RELATED - As Baez-Mania settles, Cubs know better days are ahead]

The Cubs moved Alcantara down to sixth in the order last week, but the results haven't come yet. He entered Monday's game mired in a 3-for-25 (.120 AVG) slump.

After posting a .337 on-base percentage and .764 OPS in July, Alcantara is hitting just .179 in July with an OPS below .500.

"He's learning how big-league pitchers are adjusting to him," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "They're attacking him in different ways and I think he's gonna continue to adjust. He's got the skillset to adjust.

"I'm certainly not gonna panic for him. He's not gonna panic. He still goes up to the box like he's going to have good at-bats, which is what we're wanting him to have. The results will ultimately take care of themselves, whether they're good or bad.

"He's still learning and he doesn't seem to be overwhelmed. It's not like he's down or anything."

[MORE - Chris Valaika hopes he can play a part in Cubs rebuild]

Alcantara, who spent most of the season hitting leadoff or second, said he doesn't mind hitting sixth.

"I'm comfortable there. Less pressure," he said. "In the first two spots, you have to worry about taking pitches. When you hit sixth, you can see what he's doing to the other hitters first."

Alcantara burst onto the top prospect scene with a breakout 2013 campaign and posted an .890 OPS in 89 games at Triple-A Iowa this season. He's one of those guys that fills up a stat sheet, hitting for power and average while taking his walks and using his impressive speed on the basepaths and on defense.

But even if he's not hitting, he's still impressing the Cubs with his play in center field.

Alcantara came through the Cubs system as a shortstop and flipped over to second base to accomodate Javier Baez at Double-A Tennessee last year. As both Alcantara and Baez crept closer to the big leagues, the Cubs moved "Mendy" to center and Baez to second, since Starlin Castro was already manning shortstop in Chicago.

Alcantara had played just 11 career games in the outfield prior to his promotion, but looks like a seasoned vet out there with the Cubs, getting great breaks and utilizing his world-class speed to track down fly balls.

[MORE - Cubs taking it one step at a time with Javier Baez]

The 5-foot-10 Dominican Republic native said he's feeling more and more comfortable in the outfield every day and made a handful of nice diving catches at Wrigley over the weekend while the Tampa Bay Rays were in town.

"He's starting to take to [center field]," Renteria said. "I think we all see that there are certain things that we still need to work on. But in terms of us sitting in the dugout and watching him read a ball off the bat, his reaction time, it's all very good.

"Over time, his angles will continue to clean up. His approach and understanding of the situations in when to attack a ball a little stronger or if it will hold up a bit more, all those things will start to develop as he continues to play more."

Alcantara will get plenty of playing time over the final six-plus weeks of the regular season as the Cubs try to get him and Baez acclimated to big-league life.

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