Results tagged ‘ Arismendy Alcantara ’
Not many Cubs prospects took the field Tuesday, but Arismendy Alcantara stole the show for his squad in the Dominican Republic. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action around the Caribbean:
- CF Arismendy Alcantara recorded three hits, including a two-run homer, as the Tigres del Licey cruised past the Leones del Escogido. He finished 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.
- CF Junior Felix Arias went 0-for-2 in the Gigantes del Cibao’s win over Aguilas Cibaenas.
- 3B Christian Villanueva struggled to find any rhythm, going 0-for-5, despite the Yaquis de Obregon pulling out a 6-5 win over the Caneros de los Mochis.
Javier Baez blasted his first home run of the winter Sunday, while Junior Lake contributed to his Dominican squad. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action around the Caribbean:
- 2B Javier Baez ripped a two-run, first-inning home run for his first round-tripper of the winter. He also recorded a double to go 2-for-4 in the Cangrejeros de Santurce’s win over the Senadores de San Juan.
- CF John Andreoli struggled at the plate, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in the San Juan loss.
- 2B Luis Valbuena had an RBI single. He finished with a hit in his only at-bat in the Cardenales de Lara’s win over the Tiburones de La Guaira.
- C Willson Contrereas was 0-for-3 as the Tigres de Aragua were shut out by the Navegantes del Magallanes.
- RHP Loiger Padron got only one batter out, giving up three earned runs on two hits and a walk. His Leones del Caracas squad fell to the Caribes de Anzoategui.
- LF Junior Lake went 2-for-3 and drew a walk in the Estrellas de Oriente’s 10-3 win over the Gigantes del Cibao. He also scored a run.
- CF Arismendy Alcantara finished 0-for-4 with a walk as the Tigres del Licey fell to the Aguilas Cibaenas.
- 3B Christian Villanueva went hitless with a sacrifice fly and a walk for the Yaquis de Obregon in their narrow loss to the Aguilas de Mexicali.
Christian Villanueva went yard, and Junior Lake got on base three times Wednesday for their respective winter league clubs. Here are some notes from all of yesterday’s action around the Caribbean:
- 3B Christian Villanueva hit his seventh home run of the season as the Yaquis de Obregon edged out the Venados de Mazatlan 7-5 Wednesday. Villanueva reached on an error in the third and later scored a run. He finished 1-for-4.
- LF Junior Lake reached base three times, going 1-for-1 with a single and two walks for the Estrellas de Oriente. He scored the game’s lone run in a win over the Leones del Escogido.
- 2B Arismendy Alcantara recorded an RBI single in the Tigres del Licey’s 2-0 win over the Gigantes del Cibao. He went 1-f0r-4.
- 2B Luis Valbuena had an RBI double and drew a walk in the Cardenales de Lara’s 9-4 win over the Bravos de Margarita.
- DH Jonathan Herrera reached base twice with two singles and scored a run as the Navegantes del Magallanes topped the Tiburones de La Guaira.
- LHP Joseph Ortiz had a rough outing, allowing two earned runs on three hits over one inning for La Guaira.
Starling Peralta’s efforts out of the bullpen were the highlight of Cubs representatives in the Caribbean Tuesday. Here are some notes from the rest of yesterday’s Winter League action:
- RHP Starling Peralta pitched three scoreless innings of relief for the Estrellas de Oriente in their loss to the Leones del Escogido. He surrendered just one hit and struck out two.
- LF Junior Lake went hitless in three at-bats but drew a walk in the Estrellas’ loss.
- CF Arismendy Alcantara finished 0-for-4 as the Tigres del Licey were blanked by the Gigantes del Cibao Tuesday.
- LF Christian Villanueva had a base hit in the Yaquis de Obregon’s 10-2 loss to the Venados de Mazatlan. He finished 1-for-4.
- CF John Andreoli singled and scored a run despite his Senadores de San Juan side getting edged out by the Indios de Mayaguez in a 4-3 ballgame.
Members of the Cubs organization made an impact Tuesday, especially from the offensive side, and a duo of farmhands participated in Venezuela’s All-Star Game. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action around the Caribbean:
- CF John Andreoli blasted his first home run of the winter in a 6-2 Senadores de San Juan win over the Gigantes de Carolina on Tuesday. The solo shot came in the third inning, and he added another single, finishing 2-for-4 with two runs scored. The 24-year-old Andreoli played 61 games at Double-A last season, compiling a .211/.329/.249 (AVG/OBP/SLG) line, stealing 28 bases and getting caught only twice. Though he lacks some pop, his 13.5 percent walk rate demonstrates his discipline at the plate.
- CF Arismendy Alcantara had a pair of hits as the Tigres del Licey edged out the Aguilas Cibaenas. He recorded his first double of the winter and added a run scored, finishing 2-for-5.
- LF Christian Villanueva had another monster day offensively for the Yaquis de Obregon in their loss to the Tomateros de Culican. The 23-year-old ripped a sixth-inning grand slam and added three singles. He finished 4-for-4. The home run was his sixth of the winter.
- RHP Lioger Padron pitched to one batter and got him out for the Future All-Stars side in their 8-0 win over the LVBP All-Stars.
- C Willson Contreras recorded a single in two at-bats for the Future All-Stars.
Arismendy Alcantara hit a home run off an organizational teammate, and Christian Villanueva was one of the few bright spots in his team’s loss. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action around the Caribbean:
- CF Arismendy Alcantara smashed his second home run of the winter off organization mate Frank Batista, but his Tigres del Licey fell to the Aguilas Cibaenas. The two-run shot was his lone hit of the day in three at-bats.
- RHP Batista got the start and gave up three earned runs—including the aforementioned Alcantara homer—over four innings and struck out two for Cibaenas. His ERA now sits at 3.73.
- DH Christian Villanueva finished 1-for-4 with a single and a run scored despite his Yaquis de Obregon side falling 11-2 to the Charros de Jalisco Tuesday. He also managed to draw a walk in the defeat.
It was a quiet day for Cubs prospects in the Caribbean Sunday. Catching prospect Willson Contreras managed to help his team in Venezuela, while Arismendy Alcantara contributed to his Dominican club. Here are some notes from yesterday’s Caribbean action:
- CF Arismendy Alcantara recorded a single and walk for the Tigres del Licey. He finished 1-for-3 in the 7-2 win over the Aguilas Cibaenas.
- LHP Jeffry Antigua pitched a hitless eighth inning of relief for the Toros del Este. Antigua, who split time between Double- and Triple-A last season, struck out one Leones del Escogido hitter in a 5-4 loss.
- DH Christian Villanueva reached base on a pair of walks Sunday despite his Yaquis de Obregon side getting pummeled 16-3. He finished 0-for-2 against the Caneros de los Mochis pitchers.
- CF John Andreoli had a single in a Senadores de San Juan loss to the Indios de Mayaguez. He was one of four players to reach base in the 2-0 loss.
- C Willson Contreras recorded an RBI single as the Tigres de Aragua cruised to a 7-2 win over the Tiburones de La Guaira. Contreras is viewed as one of the better young catching prospects in the organization. He played 80 games at High-A Daytona, hitting .242/.320/.359 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with five homers.
Arismendy Alcantara had a big day at the plate in the Dominican Wednesday, while numerous other Cubs contributed to their respective clubs. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action in the Caribbean:
- CF Arismendy Alcantara’s Tigres del Licey fell 6-3 to the Gigantes del Cibao despite the major leaguer’s big day at the plate. The 23-year-old had a three-hit game including a first-inning solo shot. He finished 3-for-4 with a an RBI and a run scored.
- CF-LF Junior Lake reached base twice, going 1-for-5 with a walk and scoring two runs in an Estrellas de Oriente win over the Leones del Escogido. Lake also stole his third base of the season.
- 3B Christian Villanueva is better known for his defense, but he contributed in the Yaquis de Obregon’s win. He racked up his third double of the winter, finishing 1-for-3 and adding a walk. Obregon held of the Venados de Mazatlan by a score of 5-4.
- CF John Andreoli had one of the Senadores de San Juan’s four hits Thursday. Batting leadoff, he finished 1-for-3 with a walk in the loss to the Criollos de Caguas.
Javier Baez got his first taste of major league action this summer. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
When Theo Epstein sat in front of the assembled media last October and announced, “The story [around the league] is that the Cubs are coming fast, and the Cubs are coming strong,” many had trouble stifling laughter. How could Epstein suggest a team fresh off its third-consecutive 90-loss season was on the rise—especially during a press conference announcing the firing of the club’s manager, Dale Sveum?
It seemed preposterous at the time, but Epstein was hardly joking. He knew what he and his staff had built over the previous two seasons, and he believed it wouldn’t be long before that lofty statement was accepted as fact—even by those not paying close attention to what’s been happening in the Cubs system.
Sure enough, while the 2014 season didn’t produce a dramatic increase in wins, the media and fans finally got a chance to see what the Cubs have been building, as the first wave of prospects finally funneled into Wrigley Field.
It all began with Arismendy Alcantara and Kyle Hendricks, two somewhat under-the-radar prospects, but intriguing players nonetheless. Next, one of the best power hitters in the minors, Javier Baez, arrived in the big leagues—along with the corresponding media maelstrom. Finally, the Cubs called up Cuban slugger Jorge Soler toward the end of August.
Not every one of these young players immediately took the National League by storm. There have been ups and downs. But each has provided a spark and shown the potential to be a big contributor to the next Cubs playoff run—which is exactly how the front office drew it up.
“It’s a lot of fun, and there’s definitely a lot of energy,” Hendricks said. “I’m just glad a lot of us have been able to perform well. I think that’s a testament to the coaching we have in the minor leagues. The guys got us ready for this level.”
Epstein understands that this process, which has included many losses, has been tough for both the players and the fans. That’s why finally being able to display the fruits of the front office’s labor has been so rewarding.
“These are players who have been part of our plan, part of our vision, for a while now,” Epstein said. “Now that they’re up here, people can get excited about it. It creates a little bit of momentum, which is nice to have around the organization.”
So what exactly is the Cubs’ vision, and what has the organization been doing to realize it?
When Epstein was first introduced as president of baseball operations in late October 2011, he laid out his plan for how he wanted to rebuild an organization that had gone from being the toast of the National League to 91 losses in just three years.
“Our goal will be to build the best scouting department in the game—one that makes an annual impact in the draft and internationally,” Epstein said at the time. “As far as player development goes, we will define and implement a Cubs Way of playing the game, and we won’t rest until there is a steady stream of talent coming through the minor league system trained in that Cubs Way making an impact out here at Wrigley Field.”
Epstein didn’t waste much time in following through with those promises. A week after his introduction, he sat in front of the media yet again, this time introducing Jed Hoyer as his new executive vice president and general manager and Jason McLeod, a man Epstein referred to as the “rarest commodity in the industry—an impact evaluator of baseball talent,” as his senior vice president of scouting and player development.
The three men spent the next year evaluating what they were working with from the bottom of the organization all the way to the top. After a year, they made a few tweaks to the scouting department, and completely revamped the player development side. Brandon Hyde was brought in as the farm director, but has since moved on to become manager Rick Renteria’s bench coach, while Jaron Madison has transitioned from amateur scouting director to Hyde’s old position.
Under Hyde, the Cubs hired four new minor league coordinators and had one of their better developmental seasons throughout the system in 2013.
Of course, it certainly helped that so much talent had been added to the mix—and continues to be added to this day—through astute trades, the amateur draft and international signings.
“In order to have success in this game, the foundation has to be through scouting and player development,” Hoyer said when he was introduced as general manager. “There’s no shortcut. There’s no magic bullet. All three of us believe in the philosophy wholeheartedly.”
Hoyer acknowledged the ultimate goal is to win a championship, so the baseball operations department first had to build a team that went into Spring Training every season with a realistic shot at making the playoffs. Less than three years later, it appears the Cubs are on the verge of achieving that goal.
And it’s not just the players who have reached the majors this year that have so many people both inside and outside the game optimistic about the Cubs’ immediate future. While the influx of top-notch talent is undeniable, it’s quite likely the best is yet to come.
Last year’s top draft pick, Kris Bryant, dominated every level of the minor leagues, making it all the way to Triple-A Iowa in his first full professional season. His otherworldly stat line of .325/.438/.661 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 43 home runs and 110 RBI has pushed the third baseman to the top of the national prospect rankings. Shortly after the season, he was named both USA Today’s and Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year. Addison Russell, a consensus top 10 prospect in the game, was acquired in early July via trade and has continued to excel, hitting for both power and average while playing strong defense at shortstop.
Kyle Schwarber was the fourth pick in June’s amateur draft and has already shot up two levels in the Cubs system. So far, he has displayed an impressive combination of power and patience at the plate and appears to be on the fast track to the majors.
And that’s not all. The regime’s first draft pick from 2012, Albert Almora, made it to Double-A at the tender age of 20, and the international scouts flexed their muscles in 2013, as the Cubs spent more money than any other organization. Thanks to those efforts, they added big-time prospects like Jen-Ho Tseng, Eloy Jimenez, Gleybar Torres and Jefferson Mejia, all of whom are proving advanced for their age and are ranked as top 20 organizational prospects by MLB.com.
The system is not only loaded with talent, it’s also deep, ensuring that as the Cubs continue to graduate players to the big leagues, the cupboard won’t suddenly be left bare. It looks like Epstein and Hoyer have built the scouting and player development “machine” they promised to work toward when they were first brought into the organization.
CALL TO ARMS
Of course, since the majority of the Cubs’ young players grabbing headlines are bats, there are still questions about where the organization is going to find the right combination of arms to lead the charge. But even on that front, the team is better off than most people realize.
The front office has now divested the organization of the many onerous contracts from the Hendry regime—meaning there is money to spend—and has proven quite adept at identifying and acquiring undervalued pitching talent. Names like Paul Maholm, Scott Feldman and Jason Hammel, who all excelled under the tutelage of pitching coach Chris Bosio, have been used to acquire players who fit into both the short- and long-term plans.
Feldman, in particular, netted a huge piece in pitcher Jake Arrieta. A former top prospect, the 28-year-old underwhelmed during parts of four years in the majors with the Baltimore Orioles. Though Arrieta was perhaps at his lowest value at the time, the Cubs were bullish about the struggling righty. After missing the first month of the 2014 season with shoulder soreness, Arrieta went on to make the move look like a stroke of genius, putting together a season that rivals those of some of the best pitchers in the game.
Hendricks, acquired from the Rangers in the 2012 Ryan Dempster deal, also opened eyes with a strong run of starts to begin his major league career. Though many had the 24-year-old pegged as a fringe major leaguer and back-end starter at best, his poise and control are making some wonder whether he can exceed expectations and become a big part of the rotation’s future.
“He’s doing exactly what he did in the minor leagues,” Epstein said. “He’s as polished and prepared as you’ll see with any rookie. We speculated that he might even take it to another level when he got to the big leagues because he uses all the tools available to him as well as anybody.
“We have video in the minor leagues, but we don’t have this much video. We have scouting reports in the minor leagues, but we don’t have scouting reports this extensive. He just attacks the video and attacks scouting reports. They’re a huge weapon for him. You see the confidence he has. No matter how good a hitter he’s facing, he’s likely to have identified one area he can attack and put [himself] in a good position to have a chance to get him out. I think that’s been big for him. We’re awfully proud of how he’s adjusted.”
Epstein has acknowledged that while he doesn’t think the Cubs’ position player group is a finished product, he certainly feels great about the nucleus the organization has built. Even with Arrieta, Hendricks and the surprisingly impressive Tsuyoshi Wada (who will be 34 next season, but could still find himself competing for a spot in the Cubs rotation), the obvious focus becomes how to build up the front five.
“I like some of the pitchers we have coming along in the minor leagues, and I think our big league staff has done sort of an underrated job this year,” Epstein said. “There are some bright spots. But we’ve been open about the fact that it would be nice to add an impact pitcher or two. When you look over the next 18 months or so, that’s certainly a priority for us. Whether we develop one from an unlikely spot like might be happening with Arrieta or acquire someone who’s already at those heights remains to be seen.”
FINISHING THE JOB
Surprise success stories like Arrieta and Hendricks, coupled with bounce-back years from Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, have certainly boosted the optimism around the team as the prospects are rising to the big leagues.
“It’s good for the fans,” Hendricks said. “They’ve needed some winning the last few years, and unfortunately we haven’t been able to give it to them. I think with a lot of us young guys coming up—a lot of young hitters especially—they’re doing an unbelievable job. And there’s more to come.”
While the narrative may have recently changed as far as the media and average fans are concerned, nobody within the Cubs organization considers the work done.
“Our fans deserve to get excited. I’m happy for them,” Epstein said. “Ultimately, the only thing that matters is winning. That’s what’s on our mind, and we’re working hard to get there. Having young players that are worth following and at-bats you can’t miss, we’re human and that makes us feel good that our fans have something like that in their lives at this point, because certainly there’s been some tough times that they’ve had to endure.”
Epstein and company know they’ve still got work to do. They’re aware that pitching is a need, as is a veteran presence in the clubhouse to lead by example. But they strongly believe they’re on the right path and have felt that way for some time now. Still, the ultimate goal has yet to be accomplished.
“We’ve felt really good about it for a period now, and we also feel like there’s so much more work to do that we don’t deserve any kudos or pats on the back,” Epstein said. “On the other hand, we’re all human, and we feel the optimism of our fans and our players. It only makes us want to work harder and finish it off. We’ll feel like it’s finished when we win the last game in October.”
—Sahadev Sharma, Baseball Prospectus
Arismendy Alcantara will make his major league debut Wednesday. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The first of the big-time Cubs prospects will make his major league debut Wednesday, as infielder/outfielder Arismendy Alcantara gets the start at second base against the Reds in Cincinnati. The athletic Alcantara, who was recently named the No. 18 prospect in the game by Baseball Prospectus, will bat in the two spot. Right-handed pitcher Dallas Beeler has also been recalled and will make his second start of the season tonight.
Alcantara will temporarily replace Darwin Barney, who has been placed on paternity leave and is expected to return on Friday. Left-handers Chris Rusin and Tsuyoshi Wada have both been optioned to Triple-A Iowa.
Alcantara, 22, is hitting .307 with 25 doubles, 11 triples, 10 home runs, 41 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 89 games with Iowa this season, his first year at the Triple-A level. Named a Pacific Coast League All-Star, he is the only player in the minors to reach 25 doubles, 10 triples, 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases. His 46 extra-base hits are tied for ninth in the minors.
The switch-hitter has a .374 average against left-handed pitching and a .280 average against right-handers. He batted .345 in June and enjoyed a 13-game hitting streak from June 22-July 3, in which he hit .463 with a 1.214 OPS. This season, he has played 70 games at second base, 11 games in center field and six games at shortstop.
Signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in November 2008, Alcantara owns a .284 batting average with 104 doubles, 41 triples, 40 home runs, 254 RBI and 112 stolen bases in 530 career minor league games. He was a 2013 Southern League midseason and postseason All-Star for Double-A Tennessee, and hit a home run in the 2013 All-Star Futures Game.
Beeler, 25, will make his second start for the Cubs after making his major league debut in the first game of the June 28 twinbill versus the Nationals, an outing in which he allowed one unearned run over six innings. He is 5-3 with a 3.93 ERA in 11 starts with Iowa this season. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder has walked only 17 batters and allowed just five home runs in 66.1 innings pitched, an average 2.3 walks per nine innings and one home run allowed per 13.1 innings.
The right-hander is in his fifth professional campaign since being selected by the Cubs in the 41st round of the 2010 draft out of Oral Roberts University. Beeler reached Double-A Tennessee in his first full pro campaign in 2011 and made a career-high 27 starts for the Smokies in 2012 before being slowed by a sprained finger on his right hand. Beeler is a career 17-21 with a 3.69 ERA in 77 minor league outings (69 starts).