Arismendy Rising, Nuclear Option & More

Arismendy Alcantara ZiPS Up the Charts

You have to love the name: Arismendy Alcantara. Quite possibly the best, most poetic baseball player name we have seen since Nomar Garciaparra. A name worthy of a magical realist novelist or poet – a name that will surely bring smiles to the faces of Pat Hughes and Len Kasper as it melodically rolls from their tongues! Better than the name, though, is the talent of the switch-hitting middle infielder from Santo Domingo who had an .800+ OPS in his age-21 season at Double-A West Tennessee in 2013. Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus calls him Jose Reyes-lite, a comp that most Cub fans will take. Alcantara has cropped up on most analysts’ top 100 prospect lists this winter.  ESPN’s Keith Law recently suggested (ESPN Insider chat) that Alcantara could step into Darwin Barney’s 2B job “earlier in the year rather later” in 2014, possibly appearing at Wrigley sooner than Javier Baez because he is ready now to handle his position defensively. This is the most ambitious major league ETA we have seen for Alcantara.

Even more impressive, Dan Szymborski ran Keith Law’s top 100 prospects through his ZiPS projection system and Alcantara emerged as one of the top 15 prospects in baseball, at least in terms of projected major league readiness. Alcantara was ranked at #71 by Law, consistent with most other prospect rankings, but Szymborski’s computer spit him out at #13. Here is what Szymborski had to say about Alcantara:

Going down the ZiPS rankings, you see the first large disagreement in ranking in the form of another Cubs infield prospect, Arismendy Alcantara. A 21-year-old shortstop/second baseman putting up an OPS north of .800 in Double-A would have gotten a lot more attention if he was not in the same organization as Baez and a boatload of other prospects. ZiPS sees Alcantara regularly hitting in the .260s with 15-20 home runs a year, but with hitters like Michael Young, Barry Larkin, and Robin Yount high up in his offensive comp list, there’s the possibility that he’s even better.

Alcantara’s steadily rising OPS over the past three seasons against progressively difficult pitching explains the computer’s love: .655 at low-A Peoria in 2011; .786 at high-A Daytona in 2012; and .804 at Double A West Tennessee last season.

Keith Law’s top 100 prospects include the following Cubs: Javier Baez (7), Kris Bryant (15), Jorge Soler (26), Albert Almora (28), C.J. Edwards (67), Alcantara (71). The ZiPS projections came up with the following ranking of Cubs’ prospects: Baez (1), Bryant (9), Alcantara (13), Almora (24), Soler (40), Edwards (53),  and Dan Vogelbach (97).  Vogelbach’s top ZiPS comp is none other than John Kruk, even though Szymborski swears body-type is not taken into account by the computer!

 Other news:

  • Former Cub Alfonso Soriano sells his Chicago condo. Farewell, Sori!
  • WSCR-AM radio host Dan Bernstein revives the nuclear option in a recent article. It may be fun to think and write about the Cubs leaving Wrigley Field to spite the rooftop operators, but it ain’t gonna’ happen. In the larger scheme of things, the rooftops are a fly in the ointment, not a cause to uproot the Cubs from Wrigleyville. Flies are not important enough to bother with spite. Flies get swatted away, right?. Which begs the question: why are the Cubs holding up the renovation of Wrigley Field over a bunch of flies?
  • The Cubs – Nationals game scheduled for June 29 has been moved to Saturday, June 28, as part of a day-night doubleheader, the first scheduled twin bill at Wrigley Field since 1983. The regularly scheduled game will start at 12:05 p.m.; after the ballpark is cleared, fans holding tickets for the June 29 game will be admitted for the nightcap scheduled for 6:15 p.m.  The change was made at the request of Alderman Tom Tunney to accommodate Chicago’s annual Gay Pride Parade scheduled for that Sunday. The Pride Parade has seen explosive growth in recent years and is one of the largest gay pride parades in the country, the locus of which is just a few blocks east of Wrigley Field. A rare Saturday night game at Wrigley Field. And a rare weekend day off for Cubs and Nationals players and coaches.


Photo: Arismendy Alcantara_2 / mwlguide / CC BY 2.0 / Alteration: cropped, color balanced, logo overlay