Cubs fans have been so focused on big-name prospects Kris Bryant and Javier Baez, but Arismendy Alcantara might be the first one to debut at Wrigley Field.
Quietly, Alcantara (pronounced Al-KAHN-trah) is putting together a potential breakthrough season at Triple-A Iowa, hitting .286 with an .843 OPS while showing off his defensive versatility and making a name for himself.
“You can’t sleep on him,” said Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde, who worked as the farm director and minor-league field coordinator the past two seasons.
While Bryant’s home-run binge continued Monday (four in five games in Des Moines), and Baez should benefit in the long run from his early-season struggles, Alcantara has been a steady, under-the-radar performer.
Alcantara hasn’t repeated a level since signing with the Cubs as a teenager in the Dominican Republic and entering their system in 2009. He’s a 22-year-old switch-hitter with more power than his 5-foot-10, 170-pound frame would suggest. He proved it last summer at the All-Star Futures Game, blasting a home run into the upper deck of New York’s Citi Field.
Around that time, a National League scout believed Alcantara could be the organization’s best defensive shortstop, a position already locked down by Starlin Castro. Alcantara moved to second base when Baez reached Double-A Tennessee last season. Alcantara smoothly handled that transition and has started playing some center field for Iowa.
“He’s got a great arm. He moves really well,” Hyde said. “But we have a luxury where we have a few good players (at shortstop). It’s finding a spot for him and just increasing his value. It’s keeping options open for him.”
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Alcantara snuck into Baseball America’s Top 100 list before the season started at No. 100. Without much hype, he’s generated eight homers, 18 doubles, 10 triples and 17 stolen bases, the kind of all-around production that will make people take notice.
“We always thought he was a guy with a huge upside,” Hyde said, “and now he’s really coming into his own.”