In July 2014, Arismendy Alcantara was considered one of the top minor league prospects in all of baseball. Baseball Prospectus had him ranked the 18th best prospect in all of the minors at that time, when he was in the Cubs system.
He was called up that month, and his performance at the plate did not meet expectations. In fact, it came up so short that the Cubs let him go last year, and he had a cup of coffee with Oakland at the end of the year.
The Reds, with the intent of taking a look at as much young talent as they could, picked him up off waivers after last season. He’s in the lineup today at second base for the 4:05 ET split-squad spring training game against the Cubs in Las Vegas. You can watch that game on MLB.TV (Cubs broadcasters).
You wonder why some guys who have the “top prospect” tag don’t make it. We heard it straight from the horses’ mouths yesterday during the Cubs vs. Reds telecast.
Cubs telecasters Len Kasper and Jim DeShaies talked about Alcantara as he stepped in to the batter’s box in the top of the first inning of Saturday’s game:
Kasper: “When he got to the big leagues with the Cubs, there was one hole in his game. He was versatile, a switch hitter, could play multiple defensive positions, and very athletic. He really had trouble with off-speed pitches, particularly the changeup (on screen, Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks delivered a pitch low and outside) … which Hendricks just threw him.”
DeShaies: “He’s got a little pop in his bat. He has power numbers in limited playing time. He had only a handful of at-bats with the A’s last year, but the soft stuff (on screen, Alcantara swings and misses at a Hendricks pitch) … like that … always created problems for him. A lot of swings and misses out of the zone. And then what we found is he would get so locked in on that changeup that he wouldn’t be able to pull the trigger on a good fastball.”
And there you have the transformation of a top prospect into a player trying to hang on to a major league career. It appears Alcantara will make the team due to his versatility. If the Cubs announcers know what his major weakness is, then all of baseball knows, including Reds coaches. It will be interesting to see if continued maturity (he’s still only 25) and some insight from Reds coaches can help Alcantara.
The Reds are hoping both will contribute to them finding a player who can overcome his “one hole” and develop into the standout player many scouts expected when he arrived in the bigs in July 2014.
The other Reds split squad will play today at Goodyear against Seattle at 4:05 ET on the Reds radio network. Rookie Davis is starting, hoping to earn a spot in the starting rotation. Tim Adelman is on the mound for the Reds in Vegas against the Cubs.