You don’t hear much about Arismendy Alcantara these days, and that’s not without reason. Alcantara suffered through a 2015 that saw him struggle out of the gate so badly that he was sent to AAA Iowa before April was up, and thereafter hit just .231/.285/.399 (78 wRC+).
The primary culprits were a strikeout rate that ticked up over 25%, power that faded (.167 ISO) from his power explosion in 2014 (.230), and a BABIP that was some 40 points lower than where it had been previously. You could say that the last one was just flukey bad luck, but, when you consider the swing-and-miss issues and the decline in power, it’s also possible that Alcantara simply wasn’t hitting the ball as hard in 2015. Throw in the difficulty doing much of anything with offspeed stuff, and the offensive numbers took a nosedive.
Cubs Senior VP of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod was asked about Alcantara at the Cubs Convention, and he suggested that Alcantara’s struggles with offspeed stuff in 2015 led to confidence issues that poisoned him even against the fastball – the kind of spiral that it’s not too hard to imagine can kill a season. You can check out more on Alcantara here from Tony Andracki, with additional quotes from McLeod, who sees the opportunity for Alcantara to shake off last year and move forward.
You hope that, with an offseason to reset, perhaps that confidence can come back, a couple adjustments can set in, and the bat will become useable enough that he can carve out a decent big league bench career (because the rest of his game is great – he can play very well defensively in multiple positions, he runs the bases well, and he hits from both sides of the plate).
Alcantara is just 24, and he wouldn’t be the first guy to have a down year in the process of becoming a big leaguer. Still, the good news as far as the Cubs go is that Alcantara re-emerging in 2016 does not appear to be critical to the team’s big league success. They can really let him just try to get back on track at AAA, and see where things stand at midseason, both with respect to Alcantara’s performance, and with respect to their own needs.
In case you’re wondering, yes, Alcantara has been playing in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, but with only so-so results.