Last season, Chicago Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney struggled mightily at the plate, hitting just .208. Knowing that they need to improve their offense, the Cubs are likely to only give Barney one more season to prove himself. The guy waiting in the wings is talented switch-hitter Arismendy Alcantara.
Alcantara is just one of many top prospects in the Cubs’ farm system, but he’s one of the most major league-ready out of the bunch. If he had a stellar Spring Training, it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to make the team. That being said, he would have to be extremely impressive. As he’s methodically worked his way through the minor leagues, starting this season at triple-A may make more sense.
Each season, Alcantara has played a full year at one level of minor league baseball. He spent last season in double-A, but the fact that he finally lived up to his potential may cause the Cubs to speed up his timeline just a bit. He hit 15 home runs and drove in 69 runs while hitting .271. Adding to his plus power for a second baseman, he also stole 31 bases.
Even though Barney is an elite defender, the Cubs know that they could use that sort of offensive production at the big league level. He provides power and speed that Barney simply can’t provide. They aren’t going to rush Alcantara, but when he’s ready, he will be in the majors. If that time comes this Spring Training, then so be it.
Again, it’s more likely that he will start the season in triple-A and reach the major leagues sometime around June if he’s progressing well, but if he shows some flashes, the Cubs may have no choice but to give him a spot on the 25-man roster.
The addition of utility man Emilio Bonifacio does complicate things because he gives the Cubs more versatility at the major league level right now. He probably doesn’t figure into the Cubs’ plans 5-7 years down the road like Alcantara does, but he is still going to make it much harder for Alcantara to make the team out of Spring Training.
With his combination of power and speed, Alcantara is destined for the majors at some point soon, probably this season. A great Spring Training could speed up that timeline even more.