A bunch of prospect bits to run through today …
- Arismendy Alcantara doesn’t get a lot of attention these days. No, it’s not because he’s not doing good things – he’s hitting .272/.308/.511 as a 22-year-old middle infielder in AAA – but it’s mostly because he’s not Kris Bryant, he’s not injured, and he’s playing alongside Javier Baez. Sure, you’d like to see him doing the 10% walk rate thing he did last year, which really turned heads, but at least he’s still showing the power. Although he’s slumping a bit this month – .239/.271/.391 – he’s done nothing to take himself off of the radar in the Cubs’ ever-growing list of top positional prospects. And, very interestingly, there’s this:
— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) June 8, 2014
- Alcantara has, indeed, played center field twice this week, though I haven’t heard reports on how he’s looked out there. Developing positional versatility needn’t always be looked upon as the first step in a full-time move. Just because there’s a glut of infielders in Chicago/on the way to Chicago doesn’t mean that, if Alcantara is seeing time in center, that the Cubs are “moving” him out there. Given his skill set – switch-hitter, speed, power, defensive quickness, good arm – Alcantara strikes me as the kind of guy who really could be a super utility player in the big leagues, one who starts multiple times per week at multiple positions. If Javy Baez’s future spot is second base, and if Starlin Castro isn’t going anywhere, it’s going to be center field or utility for Alcantara, and he might retain more value in the latter category than being strictly relegated to the former. Given that he’s already on the 40-man, we’ll see how this plays out in the second half of the season. He could be the first (only?) top prospect we see called up in 2014.
- Checking in on the Cubs’ MASH unit of injured prospects: Stephen Bruno (hamstring) returned to Tennessee, C.J. Edwards (shoulder) has started throwing in Mesa but likely won’t be back until mid-July, Jen-Ho Tseng (shoulder) returned to the mound this week at Kane County, Corey Black is the on DL after a comebacker hit his hand, no word on whether Ivan Pineyro (forearm strain) will be pitching any time soon, Jorge Soler is still in Mesa rehabbing his hamstring, each of Duane Underwood, Jose Arias, and Will Remillard were placed on the DL at Kane County with unspecified injuries … and I’ve probably missed a bunch of guys because it’s been a particularly brutal stretch for the Cubs on the health front.
- When Bruno returned, it was new Smokies pitcher Julio Rodriguez (free agent signing, details here) hitting the DL with a “strained” elbow (which could be a critical distinction, as you “strain” muscles, and “sprain” ligaments). Something was clearly wrong with the 23-year-old righty because, after a nice first start with the organization, he walked 12 over his next 9.1 innings.
- Replacing Underwood/Arias on the Kane County roster is lefty Alberto Diaz, who made his stateside debut this week after pitching for years in the DLS and VSL. It’s not clear why the 23-year-old lefty hadn’t ever been brought over, but it’s possible that, as a reliever only, he doesn’t have a lot of upside. Decent numbers last year in the VSL.
- Catcher Antonio Valerio replaces Remillard on the Kane County roster, and he’s also making his stateside debut. Like Diaz, Valerio is 23, and probably not on the prospect radar. As draft picks filter in over the next month, we’re going to see some guys shuffled out of the organization, and it’s possible the Cubs didn’t want to pull up (or down) a legitimate prospect to fill in at Kane County if they were just going to be moved out in a week or two anyway.
- The fastest draft pick to reach the majors? Well, he doesn’t get the top nod from Jim Callis, but Cubs first rounder Kyle Schwarber does make the list of possibilities. Because of his advanced bat and college experience, Schwarber definitely does have the chance to be one of the first 2014 draft picks to arrive in the majors, especially if he quickly transitions to left field. HOWEVA, you’ve got to keep in mind that it’s extremely rare for even top college hitters to make it to the bigs in the year after they’re drafted (see, e.g., Kris Bryant). That means the earliest – like, everything goes wonderfully – we should hope to see Schwarber in the big leagues is 2016.
- Speaking of Schwarber, it looks like he does have a bat flip tool, even if it could use some polishing before he makes the show:
— Brent Yarina (@BTNBrentYarina) June 9, 2014
Afternoon Blackhawks Bites: A Schedule Change, Injury Updates, Thoughts on Dach and Waiver Players Clear