By: Michael Wottreng
Coming off of a broken foot that ended his 2012 season with Daytona, Arismendy Alcantara was a forgotten talent in some preseason prospect rankings. MLB.com listed the infielder as the No. 20 prospect in the Cubs’ organization prior to the 2013 citing a need for a new “plate approach” and a need for “mental adjustments”.
Closing in on August, the 21-year-old seems to have put it all together and is showing his natural ability on a nightly basis for the Tennessee Smokies. Alcantara ranks first in the Southern League in total bases (172) and doubles (27), fifth in RBI (50), sixth in home runs (13) and eighth in stolen bases (22) going into Friday night’s game.
“The kid can run,” Smokies hitting coach Desi Wilson explained for the big season. “He has all the tools in the world, just trying to put everything together and just making routine plays and having an approach at the plate from both sides of the plate and just understand the game and he’s come a long ways.”
The native of the Dominican Republic can attribute his success on the field to the time he has spent off the field getting acclimated to a new country.
“He’s worked his butt off,” Wilson said of the All-Star’s work ethic. “I think the most important thing that’s really happened is that the English class, he’s taking that serious, and now we can have normal conversations throughout the game about the things he needs to concentrate on during his at-bats, on defense, on the bases, where last year it was kind of tough for him to understand what I was talking about and the manager.”
The ability to make in-game adjustments has been obvious this season for Alcantara. The 2013 Futures Game selection is hitting .318 with RISP this season and has a .382 average in the ninth inning and extra frames this season for Tennessee.
Wilson, who worked with Alcantara in Daytona in 2012, sees a different approach at the plate.
“Last year, he only had 19 walks,” Wilson said. “This year he has 40. He’s on base quite a bit this year compared to last year and he has his power numbers and that’s come from him being patient and looking for his pitch and just having that selective approach, which we’re trying to do here to all of the players here in this organization.”
In four professional seasons prior to 2013, Alcantara tallied 15 home runs. In 99 games at the Double-A level, the switch-hitter has 13 round-trippers and is closing in on career-highs in RBI and stolen bases.
“He’s really driving pitches when he gets it,” Wilson explained. “At times he’ll chase but for the most part you can see the improvement that he’s looking for his pitch, that he’s getting it and he’s not missing it.”
Alcantara grew up watching Robinson Cano and Jose Reyes trying to model his game after a pair of All-Stars. For the Smokies hitting coach, Wilson envisions younger generations looking up to Alcantara.
“I think he’s going to be a talented ballplayer,” Wilson said. “I’m not trying to compare him to anybody. I’m trying to compare him to himself.”
To stay current with all the latest news, follow Smokies on Radio on Twitter and like the Smokies on Radio Facebook page. Michael Wottreng is a Broadcast and Multimedia Assistant for the Smokies Radio Network. You can follow Michael on Twitter here: @MWottreng