Arismendy Alcantara had been a shortstop during his first four years in the Chicago Cubs organization, but last year he made the move to second base halfway through the season. Tonight, Alcantara will make his first start in the outfield as the Cubs show the initial signs of tinkering with their surplus of impact middle infielders.
As a natural shortstop, Alcantara has all of the necessary skills to play in the outfield, possessing the speed, athletic ability and throwing arm required to play all three positions. It’s possible that he will compare favorably to Emilio Bonifacio as a versatile switch-hitter who can fill in at three infield spots and man all three outfield positions. The only difference is that Alcantara is younger, cost-controlled and has a power element that is completely absent from Bonifacio’s game.
Alcantara began to show above average pop last year as he improved his ISO from a below slightly below average rate of .145 at high-A in 2012 to a well-above average rate of .180 at double-A in 2013. This season Alcantara’s isolated power is up all the way to .240, mostly as a result of 14 doubles and six triples to go along with his five home runs.
Through 46 games and 187 plate appearances this season, Alcantara is hitting .281/.321/.520 with 10 stolen bases in 12 attempts for the Iowa Cubs. While it would seem natural for Alcantara to be promoted to Chicago where Luis Valbuena and Darwin Barney are currently sharing second base, the Cubs also need to think about what position Javier Baez will play when he arrives in Chicago.
By moving Alcantara to the outfield, the Cubs are simply continuing to value the versatility that a player can add to the team. It’s entirely possible that Alcantara makes his debut with the Cubs at second base, but at least by moving him around the Cubs can increase his utility and allow themselves more options when it comes to sorting out their future lineup.