Arismendy Alcantara tripled and homered for the Iowa Cubs yesterday. It was his fourth triple and fifth homer since returning to Triple A. Yesterday also marked day four of his current hitting streak and was a good sign for fans that are looking forward to seeing him return to Chicago. When we look at his total body of Triple A work, though, it appears he could use a little more time.
Alcantara’s line with Iowa is not great (.228/.295/.436 entering yesterday’s game), and when we put him under the microscope questions start to appear. His Triple A walk rate is a fairly healthy 8.8%, and while his strikeout rate is still a touch high at 26.3%, that figure includes a brutal stretch in which he struck out fifteen times over eight games between May 5 and May 12. Since the twelfth he had just four strikeouts over his next seven games, and he balanced them with three walks.
On the other hand, that high strikeout stretch contained a six game hitting streak, his second longest since returning to Iowa. This sort of streakiness is fairly typical of what Alcantara has done in Iowa so far.
So what do we make of these numbers? To me, they show a guy still working on making his adjustments, but who may be getting close to figuring it out. For example, his first at bat yesterday was a three pitch strike out. He took a high one, then took one on the inside corner, then flailed at a tough pitch that he missed badly. It was about as ugly a start to a game as you are likely to see.
Then he adjusted and piled up seven total bases over the rest of the contest. In a nutshell, that is Alcantara right now: a little bit of ugliness and little bit of awesomeness all rolled up into one inconsistent package.
The Cubs would probably love to give their young switch hitter several weeks to get comfortable and into a rhythm of success in Triple A, but I’m not sure they will be able to. The major league bench is thin and Alcantara adds a great deal of flexibility that would come in very handy for the Cubs. I suspect that as soon as the Cubs are satisfied that he has his swing in order he will be on his way back to majors. It is hard to say for sure how much longer that might be; right now I’d say a week or two at the earliest.
Of course, if Javier Baez continues to progress the Cubs could be in a position in which they have their pick of young infielders ready for a return. I suspect Alcantara still comes up first due largely to the added versatility he offers Maddon, but we could easily see both these guys back in Wrigley by mid-June.
Scores From Yesterday
Iowa – Iowa fell behind early as they lost at home 5-3.
Tennessee – The Smokies rallied late, but came up short. They lost 4-3.
Myrtle Beach – Frederick staged a comeback in the eighth to beat the Pelicans 4-3.
South Bend – This game got out of hand in the sixth inning as the Cubs lost 17-2.
Performances of Note
- [Iowa] Yoervis Medina, recently acquired, pitched a scoreless 1.1 innings. He allowed a hit, 2 walks, and struck out one. His velocity was reportedly in the low-90s.
- [Iowa] Taylor Davis doubled twice and finished 2 for 4.
- [Tennessee] Gerardo Concepcion pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the Smokies, walking one and allowing one hit.
- [Tennessee] The lefty duo of Kyle Schwarber and Dan Vogelbach were held hitless, but combined for 3 walks.
- [Tennessee] Billy McKinney picked up 2 more hits.
- [Myrtle Beach] Mark Zagunis doubled and finished the day 4 for 4.
- [Myrtle Beach] Chesny Young doubled and finished 3 for 4 with a walk. Daniel Lockhart added two hits of his own.
- [South Bend] Infielder David Bote pitched the final inning of this blowout, walking one and allowing no hits.
- [South Bend] Trevor Clifton pitched the first 5 innings and allowed 6 runs (4 earned) on 3 walks and 6 strikeouts.
- [South Bend] A Cael Brockmeyer homer was the only extra base hit for the Cubs. Andrew Ely‘s 2 for 4 performance marked the only multi-hit day.
- I think Mark Zagunis would like to remind the Cubs that he is ready for his ticket to Tennessee. The outfielder has now hit safely in eleven straight and in nineteen of his last twenty one games. His on base streak sits at twenty one. On April 26, the day before this on base streak began, Zagunis had a line of .234/.393/.277. His line now reads .328/.453/.453. I suspect that it will not be long now before the Cubs find a way to get him to Double A.
- The numbers for Jake Stinnett have not been quite what we hoped to see this season, but according to his coach in South Bend we shouldn’t worry. In this article pitching coach Brian Lawrence comments:
“Being unorthodox adds to his deception. He’s really hard to square up. If you watch his outings, I know his numbers don’t look good on paper, but he doesn’t get hit. He’s had games where he’s walked too many guys, and got behind in counts, but his last two outings, there have been a lot of really, really soft groundball hits.”
- And, in fact, after taking a closer look at Stinnett’s work, I tend to think that quote is pretty accurate and is not just a case of a pitching coach defending his guy. Stinnett has made six starts this year. In four of them he was caught by the new-to-catching Gioskar Amaya, and in the other two he was caught by Cael Brockmeyer, a guy who has earned some positive comments from the Cubs’ coaches for his work behind the plate in camp. In the Amaya games Stinnett has walked eighteen batters. In the Brockmeyer games he has walked just three. That could be coincidence, but it could also be a sign that Stinnett’s high-movement stuff is causing problems for the relatively inexperienced Amaya, particularly in the framing department. As Amaya improves and as Stinnett moves up the system and works with more veteran backstops, we could see his numbers plunge precipitously. Stinnett still has some work to do, but he is probably doing better than his raw stats would appear to indicate.