We open every minor league season with a list of players we know are good prospects and who we watch closely. For the 2012 Cubs, that list would feature names like Szczur, Jackson, Rizzo, and Lake. There is also usually a list of players we hope will take strides forward and upgrade their prospect status. This season, that list would contain names such as Wells, Golden, Jokisch, and Darvill.
But the success of a minor league season, and indeed of a farm system in general, depends to a large degree on a third list. That is the list of player who step out of relative obscurity and take their place in the prospect conversations. Already this season we have seen Patrick Francescon and John Andreoli take that step. Today, I would like to suggest that we add Arismendy Alcantara‘s name to that list.
Alcantara is a switch hitting shortstop out of the Dominican Republic, and he is having a breakout season. While he is still raw defensively (and that means lots of errors (and errors are OK for a young infielder)), the experts think he can stay at shortstop as he moves towards the majors. He features a nice mix of power (3 HR this season) and speed (12 steals) that should play well at short as well as at second or third. His production is fairly consistent from both sides of the plate, including his power numbers. His strikeout rate of 16% is perfectly acceptable, although his walk rate (4%) could stand to come up slightly. That walk rate has stayed fairly stable as he has moved up the farm system, but his strikeouts have fallen off precipitously as he moved into increasingly difficult leagues. That is a particularly good sign for a young player.
As you look over his numbers, keep in mind that he is playing for Daytona. The Florida State League is rough on hitters, but Alcantara is more than holding his own. He has always been a toolsy sort of player, but now it appears he is harnessing those tools and enjoying some success. If he can keep this up, I think we will be hearing a lot more about him over the next few years.
Brooks Raley made his first Triple A start of the season. He did absorb the loss, but given that this was his first start in a very hitter friendly league after working in the pitcher friendly Southern League, it wasn’t a bad game at all. He threw five innings and allowed five runs (three earned) on six hits and three walks to go with four strikeouts. I think we’ll see better from Raley once he gets adjusted.
Ryan Rowland-Smith struggled in his two innings of relief, but Mike MacDougal limited his damage to a solo home run. For MacDougal, that’s progress. Frankie De La Cruz had the only scoreless appearance for the Cubs.
Anthony Rizzo homered. At this point I think we are only surprised when he doesn’t hit a long ball. Or three. This bomb, part of a 2 for 4 day, was his sixteenth of the season. The demands for his promotion are no doubt going to get louder as he approaches and breaks the 20 HR mark, and those demands will likely be ignored by the Cubs. He’ll come up when the Cubs decide he’s ready to come up, and when the economics of the situation make sense, and not a day before. I suspect at this point the economics of player control and arbitration timings are all we are waiting on. He’s crushing both lefties and righties, he is now just ten home runs short of his career high for a season, and it seems he’s still getting better.
Josh Vitters is playing pretty well himself. He extended his hitting streak to seven games with a 3 for 4 showing that included a double. He got off to a slow start in April (normal for a player adjusting to a new league), but his OPS in May is up to .832.
BN’er Ced was at the game, and offered his insightful thoughts over at the Message Board. He discusses Raley, Rizzo, Jackson, and Vitters, among others.
Nick Struck threw only 57 pitches and left after three rough innings (8H, 6R, 2BB, 3K). Casey Harman threw three innings in long relief and fared somewhat better (3H, 2R, 4K). Frank Batista put up zeroes in the final two frames.
Tennessee had 12 hits in this game, including two each from James Adduci, Junior Lake, Justin Bour, and Rebel Ridling. Lake, along with Matt Cerda and Michael Brenly, doubled in the contest. Ridling hit his fifth home run of the season, and Jae-Hoon Ha finally connected for his first of the year.
Frank Del Valle struck out six in his five innings of work, but he also walked three and gave up two home runs as he allowed five runs to cross the plate. Joseph Zeller allowed two more runs to score in his two innings of work, but it was Tony Zych who was dealt the loss and a blown save.
Daytona scored their seven runs on just eight hits. Ronald Torreyes finally had a good game, going 3 for 3 with a double and a walk. Dustin Harrington tripled and Greg Rohan launched his seventh home run of the season. Arismendy Alcantara also had two hits.
Nearly all the damage done was done to Jose Rosario in his three and two thirds innings of work. Rosario’s record now stands at 3-5 after surrendering nine runs on nine hits with two walks and five strikeouts. The two home runs he allowed did not help matters any. Austin Reed was a bit wild in his inning and a third of relief and allowed another two runs to score. Hunter Cervenka and Jeffrey Lorrick combined to pitch the final four innings in scoreless fashion.
There’s not much to report about the offense. The Chiefs finished the game with a grand total of five hits, all of them singles. Pin-Chieh Chen, Ryan Cuneo, and Anthony Giansanti each had one hit. Yaniel Cabezas had two.