If you’re waiting for advancement to the major leagues by one of the Chicago Cubs' big-name prospects, you might be waiting for a while yet. The most likely choice to see Wrigley Field this season remains infielder Arismendy Alcantara, the 100th-rated prospect in baseball entering 2014 according to Baseball America. Or maybe he should be labeled as an infielder/outfielder.
Alcantara, 22, has worked his way up through the Cubs system as a shortstop and a second baseman, but as he prepares to take the final step to the major leagues the Cubs have given him some time in the outfield. He’s played three games in center field this season at Triple-A Iowa, including starting there last Wednesday. It doesn’t sound like much, but it worked for another Cubs prospect who made a permanent position change.
Junior Lake took a similar path, as the Cubs gave him six games in the outfield at Triple-A Iowa last season after spending the majority of his time in the organization as a third baseman. Lake was called up late last July and has played exclusively in left and center. The difference here is Alcantara’s time in the outfield doesn’t necessarily signal a position switch, just that they want him prepared for anything in the majors. Worst-case scenario, the Cubs envision him as an Emilio Bonifacio type of player -- good enough to play all over the diamond and a player who can hit from both sides of the plate. Or he could simply take over one of the middle infield positions as an everyday starter. But Javier Baez and Kris Bryant are going to be in the majors soon as well -- at least the Cubs hope so -- and Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo are already there. Alcantara could be prepping to take over center field until further notice. It would make sense with the Cubs thin in ready-made outfield prospects and center fielder/ first round pick Albert Almora stuck at Class-A Daytona.
Alcantara is hitting .273 with eight home runs to go along with nine triples, but his on-base percentage is only .312 thanks to just 15 walks this season. His fielding percentage has risen nicely over the last couple of years in the minors as he’s made 10 errors this season so far at second base and shortstop after combining for 33 last year at those positions. He’s made one error in the outfield in three games. While the Cubs have several higher-rated prospects, Alcantara is the best position player choice to make it to the majors before season’s end.