Before this season started, I was about as high on Arismendy Alcantara as anyone. In the Assume the Position on SS, I said that Alcantara would need to increase his walks to elevate his prospect status. I won't ruin the conclusion for you.
Alcantara was signed at 17 in 2009. I don't know his signing bonus, so assume it's low. He played the DSL at 17 and was actually quite good for the league (.275/.349/.415). He played at Boise and Peoria the next 2 years, and each time he lost about 50 points of OPS, but then broke out in 2012. As the full-time SS at Daytona, Arismendy hit .302/.339/.447, good for a .356 wOBA and a wRC+ of 121. He struck out 17% of the time and walked only 5.3%, but he almost doubled his power and knocked his OPS up 131 points with no meaningful change in BABIP.
Alcantara primarily played SS during the first half of the season, sliding over to 2B when Baez was called up. 2B is better fit for Alcantara anyways, and, he played the position adequately. Even better, Alcantara performed VERY well. He hit .271/.352/.451 with 15 HR (8 more than last year) and 36 doubles (23 more than last year (!)). That walk rate that needed to improve? He DOUBLED it, to 10.9%. His K rate was 21.9%, which is kind of on the high side, but reasonable enough. A SLG in the mid 400s and an ISO of .180 are also great signs that he will be feared offensively at the major league level.
Alcantara had interesting splits this season.
vL: .246/.333/.377 (130 AB)
vR: .280/.350/.478 (364 AB)
Home: .251/.343/.409 (235 AB)
Away: .290/.361/.490 (259 AB)
Day: .267/.360/.347 (75 AB)
Night: .272/.351/.470 (419 AB)
Bases Empty: .225/.311/.419 (289 AB)
Runners On: .337/.409/.498 (205 AB)
RISP: .347/.413/.551 (118 AB)
This is awesome. He likes playing at night (which kinda sucks, but we're getting there), and he does better in more crucial situations. He has a pronounced split against lefties, but he's a switch hitter, and they generally struggle against lefties in the minors. If he focused on batting lefty, that'd also be fine. In any circumstance, his season was an unqualified success, and one that likely put him in the discussion of being a global Top 100 prospect.
I originally though Alcantara was going to move to 3B instead of 2B, and in any other organization, he probably would. Unfortunately for Arismendy, 3B is absolutely loaded with prospects at every level. Alcantara has adequate instincts in the field but a very strong arm and it would definitely play at 3B. With some coaching, he could be a very good defensive 3B. He has the speed for 2B but maybe not the instincts; it probably isn't going to be natural for him there but he should be passable at the position. I could see a position change to CF being tried if that's the only way to get him in the lineup, and honestly, it's not that bad an idea. If Lake can be a passable CF, Alcantara could be better (Lake has the much better arm, but Alcantara is probably a shade faster) than that.
Alcantara stands 5'10" and weighs 160 pounds, but looks heavier than that, around 170. He has 60 speed, but what's also intriguing is the developing power. Arismendy is more of a doubles hitter who might only hit a dozen HR in a year, but he could hit 35-40 doubles and steal 30 bases. That's a skillset that not many players have.
That's a pretty swing.[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iPMf47q3KY”]
It looks like pitches up and in are going to kill him as a LHH. Of course, that's a hard pitch for anyone to hit.
Jason Parks is also extremely complimentary of Alcantara, saying
This looks like the Cubs keystone of the future, and a guy who is a no doubt top 100 prospect in the game right now. He can flat out play.
There are no real holes in his game. I'm extremely hesitant to put the term "5-tool player" on anyone, but (if this make sense) Alcantara doesn't lack any tool. He's (and I'm spitballing) a 55 hit, 50 power, 55 arm, 60 speed, 45 fielding type of guy. If that sounds like a guy who should be in the Top 50 prospects of all of baseball, well, I'm not disagreeing with you.
Alcantara will break with the Iowa Cubs, and I'd expect him to get every rep at 2B. Once service time is less of an issue, he could be called up and play at second every day. He's the type of prospect that is probably too good to keep at AAA for an entire year, but this FO does say they like to do that (whether or not they will is an open question). I'd be very surprised if Arismendy broke camp with the Cubs, but it wouldn't be the most surprising thing ever. He'll be called up next September at the very least, and I'd look for him to make an impact more-or-less immediately.
I don't think Alcantara will ever be the best player on a good team, and I don't think he'll make more than an all-star game or two. However, he'll have a good shot to be a first-division middle fielder somewhere, and he also makes an extremely attractive trade chip. If I had to predict the future, Alcantara could peak at .280/.350/.430 (essentially 2013 Jason Kipnis). That's a 4-win player, and sounds about right. He is, of course, no sure thing, but I'd almost be more surprised if he wasn't a net positive on a major league team in the near future. In my opinion, Alcantara is the clear #5 prospect in this system and among the Top 50-75 prospects in all of baseball.
2013 Cubs Prospect Reviews