Get to know this name: Arismendy Alcantara

Cubs infield prospect shows his stuff in Futures Game, could beat better-known youngsters to big leagues

NEW YORK — Little more than another flashy kid on a minor league back field 16 months ago, Arismendy Alcantara is quickly making a name for himself in the Cubs organization.

And what a lyrical name it is.

"For starters, you just have to love the name,'' Baseball Prospectus' Jason Parks said. "What a great baseball name. Arismendy Alcantara. Now batting: Aris-mendy Al-can-tar-a! You root for him to do something just so you can say the name. And on top of that, he is a really interesting player.''

How interesting?

Interesting enough that he was invited to participate in Sunday's Futures Game, which is the express lane to the big leagues.

Nineteen players from the 2012 Futures Game already are in the big leagues, including All-Stars Manny Machado, Jose Fernandez and Jean Segura. Alcantara, who played second base Sunday, may not rise to the same heights as those guys, but he's a 21-year-old switch hitter with a big future.

"He's been really solid against us,'' said Birmingham Barons manager Julio Vinas, who has watched Alcantara hit .280 with 13 home runs and 22 stolen bases for Double-A Tennessee. "He always gives you tough at-bats. He plays really good defense, has a plus arm and a lot of speed. I think he's going to be an impact guy in the big leagues.''

Signed by the Cubs in 2008, shortly after his 17th birthday, Alcantara has had an unremarkable, quiet start to his career. He spent a year in the Dominican summer league and some endless stretches in Arizona for extended spring training and Instructional League, moving step-by-step up the organizational ladder.

Speed and the ability to get on base have long been the infielder's calling card, but Desi Wilson and other coaches in the Cubs organization unlocked his power over the last two years. He hit only 15 homers in his first four pro seasons but is on track to become a 20/20 player this year.

Alcantara is listed at 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds. He doesn't look like a guy who should swing for the fences but says Wilson has helped make him dangerous.

"He's always all over me,'' he said. "He's always helping me. He tells me what I should do to improve.''

Wilson would have loved Alcantara's fourth-inning at-bat against Red Sox prospect Anthony Ranaudo. He timed a 93-mph fastball perfectly, pulling it into the second deck of the right-field bleachers, where Ike Davis' homers go.

Alcantara played the first five innings, going 1-for-3 in a 4-2 loss to Team USA. He struck out on three pitches against Noah Syndergaard in the first inning and, batting right-handed, grounded into a double play against Jesse Biddle in the fifth inning.

"Very fun day,'' Alcantara said, smiling.

Like Junior Lake, Matt Szczur and Dan Vogelbach, Alcantara is generally regarded in the second tier of the Cubs' prospects, behind the Big Four of Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and the just-signed Kris Bryant. But he has a chance to get to Wrigley Field before any of the others, showing them around when they arrive.

"He's a guy who, for whatever reason, sort of flies under the radar screen,'' general manager Jed Hoyer recently told Cubs play-by-play man Len Kasper. "He's really young. He's got power, got speed. Really exciting player with great makeup. I don't know why people don't talk about him as much, but we're really excited about him.''

Alcantara's fielding is an issue. He's extremely error-prone (156 in 386 minor league games, including 23 in 88 games this year) and forces the action, with his motor always racing.

"That's the way all young kids are,'' said Vinas, highly respected for his work with White Sox prospects. "You have to let them settle in over time. When he does that, he'll be a special player.''

Alcantara was Tennessee's regular shortstop until recently, when Baez was promoted from high-A Daytona. The Cubs moved Alcantara to second base, which until further notice is where he will play.

"I want to play shortstop,'' Alcantara said. "That is my favorite position. But I can play any position where they put me.''

How does Alcantara fit into the Cubs' future? Nobody knows. Not him. Not Hoyer and the others running the Cubs. But the kid with the great name isn't a secret any longer.

progers@tribune.com

Twitter @ChiTribRogers

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