Remember Arismendy Alcantara? The first of the highly touted Cubs’ prospects to make his big league debut last summer has put up good numbers with Triple-A Iowa over the last month. With the front office looking for ways to improve the big league roster, could Alcantara be back in the majors in the near future?
Joe Maddon spent the off-season raving about what Alcantara brings to the table, a switch hitter with speed that can play multiple positions. Alcantara was even labeled as Maddon’s next Ben Zobrist despite the fact he had trouble making contact in the majors.
Alcantara batted only .188/.241/.333 in his last 65 games a year ago with eight doubles, one triple and nine home runs for a .574 OPS … and in 255 at bats, he struck out 88 times. Alcantara did not show much improvement in the Cactus League but broke camp with the Cubs and really struggled (.077/.226/.077, 2-for-26) in 11 games before he was optioned to Iowa.
And it didn’t get any better for Alcantara after he was demoted. In his first eight games, Alcantara was 6-for-31 with a double, a triple and two home runs. Alcantara struck out nine times with only three walks.
Arismendy Alcantara has played shortstop, second and third base as well as center and left field for Iowa this season. And at the plate, he has gotten himself back on track.
Alcantara went 2-for-5 with a home run on Saturday night and raised his season slash line to .271/.335/.507. Alcantara has reached base safely in 14 straight games and has hits in 12 of his last 13 games. And in those 14 games, Alcantara has nine strikeouts and seven walks.
Jaron Madison, the Cubs farm director, recently spent time with the I-Cubs to check on the progress of Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez, among other players. With Maddon looking for a way to supplement his four-man bench with players that can produce at multiple positions, Arismendy Alcantara is making a case to rejoin the big league team.
Jesse Sanchez and Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday that RHP Rafael Soriano is now being represented by Alan Nero, the same agent that takes care of Joe Maddon and Jason Hammel.
Jesse Sanchez spoke with Soriano and the veteran reliever said he wants to “get back to playing baseball and helping a team win.” Soriano is not just looking for a closer’s job. According to Jesse Sanchez, Soriano is looking to pitch and take on whatever role he asked to do.
Rafael Soriano says he has been working out and is ready to compete as soon as he is signed.
The Cubs are one of several teams believed to be in the mix for the free agent reliever.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Starlin Castro is two hits shy of 900 for his career. Castro will be the youngest player in Cubs’ history to record 900 hits. Castro is 25 years, two months and seven days old. Ron Santo is currently the youngest player in franchise history to reach the 900-hit mark. Santo collected the 900th hit of his Hall of Fame career on Aug. 16, 1965 in St. Louis at the age of 25 years, six months and one day old.
• According to a report from Marc Topkin, RHP Grant Balfour is not considering retirement. Balfour is looking to pitch in the majors again and is considering a few options.
• LHP Phil Coke signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays according to a report from Chris Cotillo.
• According to Jim Callis, the Cubs ’84 draft is the fifth best of All-Time. Dallas Green selected RHP Greg Maddux in the second round (31st overall) and LHP Jamie Moyer in the sixth round (135th overall). RHP Jeff Pico, who had a very memorable big league debut (see below), was the Cubs’ 13th round pick that year.
• ESPN Chicago reported Dale Sveum agrees with Joe Maddon, Cubs’ start times are a problem.
• Rain won’t wash away Cubs’ rotation plans according to a report from ESPN Chicago.
• According to the Tribune, to emulate the Royals, Joe Maddon believes the Cubs must bolster the bullpen and defense.
• Joe Maddon stated his case as to why he does not want to see the National League adopt the designed hitter … and it’s not the reason you might think.
And last, but not least, Joe Maddon is doing his best to keep it simple according to a report from ESPN Chicago, a burger-and-a-beer philosophy and a little good conversation suits the Cubs’ skipper just fine.
This Day In Cubstory
2008 – For the first time in 100 years, the Cubs entered June with the best record in baseball at 36-21
2006 – Cubs acquired Phil Nevin from the Rangers for Jerry Hairston Jr. and cash
2004 – Cubs traded Damian Jackson to the Royals for Travis Dawkins
2003 – Cubs released Rod Beck
2003 – Cubs beat the Astros 1-0 in 16 innings, the longest 1-0 game for the Cubs since a 17-inning win over the Boston in 1901. Houston set a franchise record with 23 strikeouts and the Cubs set a franchise record by striking out 23 times
1988 – Jeff Pico threw a four-hit shutout against the Reds to win his Major League debut 4-0. Pico became the first Cubs pitcher to post a shutout in his big league debut since Bill Lee in 1934.
1967 – Kenny Lofton, born
1966 – Ron Santo established a National League record when he appeared in his 364th consecutive game at third base. Santo’s streak began on April 19, 1964 and will end at 390 games after he was hit in the face by Jack Fisher and suffered a broken cheek bone.
1948 – A record paid crowd of 46,965 at Wrigley Field saw the Cubs split a doubleheader with the Pirates. Cubs won game one 4-3 and lost game two 4-2. Andy Pafko collected five hits and homered in each game
1920 – Grover Cleveland Alexander homered in the bottom of the 10th inning to win his own game 3-2 over the Reds at Wrigley Field.