The Chicago Cubs promoted infielder Arismendy Alcantara to the major leagues today. This is a short-term move to cover Darwin Barney's paternity leave, but Alcantara is having a strong season at Triple-A Iowa and will certainly be back in the majors for an extended trial at some point in the not-so-distant future. Let's take a look.
Alcantara was signed by the Cubs back in 2008 out of the Dominican Republic. He had a decent '09 run in the Dominican Summer League (.275/.349/.415 with 20 steals), then held his own with Boise in the Northwest League in '10 (.283/.315/.402). His power production dropped off in the more difficult Midwest League in '11 (.271/.303/.352), where he drew notice for his athleticism and overall tools but also for his lack of refinement, particularly on defense. At that point, there was little to distinguish him from a large number of similar guys in the low minors trying to make the transition from good athlete to productive baseball player.
That began to change in '12: he hit .302/.339/.447 with 19 walks, 61 strikeouts, and 25 steals in 331 at-bats for High-A Daytona. He was limited to 85 games by a broken foot, but all phases of his game improved: he used his speed much more efficiently, he was growing into his body and showing more power, his swing was more consistent, and his defensive footwork was cleaner. He continued making progress in 2013 with a .271/.352/.451 campaign for Double-A Tennessee, with 36 doubles, 15 homers, 31 steals, and a 62/125 BB/K ratio.
Alcantara adapted readily to Triple-A this year, with a .307/.353/.537 line for Iowa. He's swiped 21 bases in 24 attempts and is already up to double-digits in doubles (25), triples (11), and homers (10). He's certainly worthy of promotion.
Listed at 5-10, 170, he is a switch-hitter born October 29, 1991. His best tool is speed, but he has good strength in his bat for a player his size and has surprising power. He was more patient last year but has returned to more hacking ways this season, though it hasn't harmed his production. Defensively, he has the arm and range for shortstop but remains error-prone at the position and has spent most of '14 at second base. He's error-prone there, too, although the arm looks awfully good at that spot and he has the range and quickness to make some spectacular plays. He's also received some time in the outfield this year to enhance his versatility.
In the long run, Alcantara could develop into a regular second baseman who contributes both speed and power. At worst he should be a very valuable super-utility player with a better bat than most.