The original plan called for Cubs prospect Arismendy Alcantara to get a cup of coffee in the big leagues for a couple of days while Darwin Barney was away on paternity leave, but his big game against the Reds this afternoon has changed things.
Making his major league debut, Alcantara went 4-for-5 with three RBI and finished a home run shy of the cycle. The 22-year-old struck out in his first major league at-bat, but he hit a sacrifice fly in his next plate appearance and followed that up with a two-run double, two infield singles, and a triple. The Cubs optioned today’s starter, Kyle Hendricks, down the minors after the game, which means that Alcantara will stick around at least through the weekend.
Much has been made about the Cubs’ glut of offensive prospects, but Alcantara has managed to fly under the radar despite putting up some big numbers in the minors. He was batting .307/.353/.537 with 46 extra-base hits (including 10 home runs), 41 RBI, and 10 stolen bases over 89 games with Triple-A Iowa prior to his call-up. It shouldn’t be long before he takes over second base for good.
Major League Baseball has announced the umpiring crew for the World Series. John Hirschbeck is the crew chief. It’s his fifth World Series assignment, third as a crew chief.
A surprising name on the crew is Joe West. It’ll be his sixth World Series overall, but first since 2012. There had been chatter for several years that Major League Baseball was making a more concerted effort to get its best umpires into the World Series more often while minimizing the appearances of its weakest umpires. Most assumed West’s absence from the Fall Classic in recent years, despite his seniority, was a function of that. Maybe they’re still making merit a priority and maybe West has just improved? I’ll leave that for you to judge.
Anyway, here is the lineup of umps for Game 1. They will rotate after that, of course. If the series goes six games, Cowboy Joe will be calling the balls and strikes:
Home plate: Larry Vanover
1B: Chris Guccione
2B: John Hirschbeck
3B: Marvin Hudson
LF: Tony Randazzo
RF: Joe West
Replay Official for Games 1-2: Sam Holbrook (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)
Replay Official for Games 3-7: Larry Vanover (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)