Whatever happened to Arismendy Alcantara?
Once one of the more dynamic young players in the organization, Alcantara was nowhere to be found during the “Rock Star Rookies” session at last weekend’s Cubs Convention.
Instead, the panel featured Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber - all guys who began an unbelievable 2015 season in the minor leagues while Alcantara made the Opening Day roster and played against the St. Louis Cardinals that night on national TV.
After making a strong impression during a 70-game audition with the Cubs in 2014, Alcantara managed only two hits in 11 big-league games last season, hitting .077 and showing none of the extra-base power that made him such an interesting prospect.
That April, the Cubs sent Alcantara down to Triple-A Iowa, where he remained for the rest of the season. He struggled after the demotion, posting a .231/.285/.399 slash line in 120 games, a steep drop-off from the .307/.353/.537 slash line he put up against Triple-A pitching in 2014.
"After coming up two years ago and injecting a lot of talent and impact, he had a really big setback last year in terms of just confidence," said Jason McLeod, the senior vice president of scouting and player development. "He was (there) Opening Day, got out to a really tough start and I think never got out of that spiral last year.
"One thing he always did was get on the fastball coming up. If you threw him a heater, he was going to get on it and hit it really hard. Last year, I think he started doubting himself and he was so worried about the offspeed pitches that now he was behind the heater and he was caught in between."
In spring training, Joe Maddon ran with the questions about Alcantara becoming a version of Ben Zobrist, the manager’s favorite super-utility guy with the Tampa Bay Rays.
But Alcantara didn’t adjust well to the idea of moving all over the field and started to look a little lost. It’s an extremely difficult job, which helps explain why the Cubs gave Zobrist a four-year, $56 million deal this winter.
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Still, Alcantara is only 24 and a switch-hitter who has flashed an intriguing blend of power, speed and on-base skills while playing shortstop and second base.
Can Alcantara rebound and become a part of the franchise’s future again?
"He's still young enough and talented enough that he can kind of put that one on the backburner," McLeod said. "Forget about 2015 and come out and start fresh this year."