Tag: Arismendy Alcantara

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Report: Cubs calling up prospect infielder Addison Russell


The future is now in Chicago. Just days after the Cubs promoted top prospect Kris Bryant, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the club will call up prospect infielder Addison Russell.

The 21-year-old Russell has mostly been a shortstop in the minors and it’s still considered his best position for the long-term, but FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal hears that he’s being called up to play second base. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com wrote on Monday that he has been playing second base of late with Triple-A Iowa in case there was a need with the big club. Tommy La Stella is currently on the disabled list with an oblique strain and Jonathan Herrera and Arismendy Alcantara have struggled, so it’s worth a shot. Of course, the Cubs currently have Starlin Castro at shortstop.

Russell, who was acquired from the Athletics last July in the Jeff Samardzija deal, was batting .318 (14-for-44) with one home run and an .803 OPS across his first 11 games in Triple-A this season and owns a .300/.376/.519 batting line in the minors. Baseball America ranked him as the No. 3 prospect in the game earlier this year.

Starlin Castro? Addison Russell? Cubs see wide-open possibilities

starlin castro cubs getty

It didn’t take long for the Starlin Castro rumors to start up again – if that trade speculation ever even stopped.

For all the growing hype and win-now expectations, the Cubs are still very much in a wait-and-see mode. That makes 2015 a pivot point for The Plan, an All-Star shortstop and arguably baseball’s best farm system.

“No agenda going into this year,” Theo Epstein said.

The Cubs confirmed the sad beginning to Triple-A Iowa’s season: Javier Baez is taking a leave of absence to be with his family after his sister, Noely, died on Wednesday night at the age of 21.

Epstein is a believer in Baez’ talent and toughness, so the president of baseball operations will let this all play out, knowing that the 2015 group shouldn’t be the best team during this competitive window.

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Even if you’re in love with Addison Russell – and you think you know the answer to the Castro question – it still leads to all sorts of follow-ups.

When will things click for Baez at the plate? Where will Kris Bryant play defensively? How does Arismendy Alcantara fit into the picture? Where is this payroll going? When will the business side deliver the TV megadeal? What, exactly, are the San Diego Padres, New York Mets and Seattle Mariners (or insert any other rumored team here) thinking?

“They can play together,” Epstein said. “Is it likely that they all play together and we bring in no one from outside the organization? No. The most likely outcome is that we keep a lot of these guys and we sign a free agent or so over the years and we make a couple trades, too. Big trades. That’s most likely.

“But my point is, when I say they can all play together, that’s a direct answer to the question: ‘What are you going to do with all these shortstops?’ Well, your three shortstops can play second, short and third. And Bryant can play third or either corner. I think (Kyle) Schwarber can catch and Alcantara can play second or he can play center. And (Albert) Almora can play center when he’s ready.

“They have a lot of versatility and there’s a way that they all fit together. It’s not like we’re sitting there with five first basemen wondering what the hell we’re going to do with them.”

[MORE CUBS: Cubs being cautious with pitching prospect Pierce Johnson]

The Cubs haven’t been inclined to pay the price in terms of prospects and salary for someone like, say, Cole Hamels. The Philadelphia Phillies aren’t particularly high on Baez, either. The Cubs could simply wait for what’s shaping up to be a banner class of free-agent pitchers – Jordan Zimmermann, David Price, Jeff Samardzija – next winter.

Russell made a great impression in spring training with his smooth defense at shortstop and serious attitude inside the clubhouse, showing maturity for a 21-year-old who’s played three games about the Double-A level.

Baseball America’s No. 3 overall prospect lived up to the hype, but Russell’s most impressive move might have been silencing Joe Maddon. At least that’s how the manager with no mute button remembered their meeting the morning the Cubs sent Bryant, Baez and Russell to minor-league camp.

“Addison Russell, how bout this kid?” Maddon said. “Nobody’s talking about him. (But) I couldn’t tell him what to work on. I’m not (kidding). He’s that accomplished at that age.

“(Addison’s) sitting in there talking and I had nothing. I was lost. Just keep doing what you’re doing, basically.”

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While Bryant Watch became the national story, Russell is the other Scott Boras client who could eventually impact the 2015 Cubs.

“Absolutely, he would be able to help us this year,” Maddon said. “I totally believe that.”

Russell had been a late bloomer coming out of Pace High School in Florida, needing time to change his diet and reshape his body, really putting himself on the map later in the scouting process.

Russell fell to the Oakland A’s with the No. 11 pick in the 2012 draft, or five spots after the Cubs grabbed Almora, the first player selected by the Epstein administration.

The A’s hoped Russell would be able to give their major-league lineup a jolt at some point last season – until he tore a hamstring and got healthy enough to become a headliner in the Jeff Samardzija Fourth of July blockbuster trade.

“The biggest thing with him would be just to understand his body,” Maddon said. “A lot of the young players, to me, don’t really understand nutrition and things of that nature. I really try to emphasize (that) because you want to keep your body well and full of energy to play through September and October.”

Castro hasn’t played any meaningful games past, uh, the IRS filing deadline, maybe Memorial Day?

It’s not Castro’s fault the Cubs have finished in fifth place for five years in a row, but he sure takes a lot of heat for a three-time All-Star who just turned 25.

Before you ship Castro out of town, let’s see what he can do on a good team, how focused he will be in a pennant race, where his game can go with an established leader and a cohesive clubhouse.

Remember, Maddon is Castro’s fifth manager in six seasons and the shortstop remains under club control through 2020, so there’s no reason to rush into a deal.

Castro already knows this is a big year for him personally.

[MORE CUBS: Cubs should feel urgency to win now at Wrigley]

“Oh yeah,” Castro said. “I feel really good. I’m starting to feel great, offensively and defensively. I think we got a nice group. We can be together and we can do something.”

Castro made it happen during the seventh inning of Wednesday’s 2-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. He drove in Anthony Rizzo with a line-drive single to left field for the season’s first run, hustled to second base on the throw and then scored on Miguel Montero’s sacrifice fly.

Castro also struck out during a first-and-third, one-out situation in the fourth inning, and committed an error in the eighth. But the Cubs are in a place now where they can pick each other up and everything doesn’t have to revolve around Starlin all the time.

“We’re going to have a pretty fun year,” Castro said. “We can put something together and get a lot of wins.”

Joe Maddon on Javier Baez: “Of course, there’s a chance he doesn’t make the team”

javier baez

Javier Baez has been penciled in as the Cubs’ starting second baseman, but manager Joe Maddon made it pretty clear that the job is hardly being handed to him.

Maddon told Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:

Of course, there’s a chance he doesn’t make the team. There’s no lock in regard to that. I talked about the entitlement program. It doesn’t exist. Everything has to be earned.

Baez has lots of long-term potential as a middle infielder with 30-homer power, but he struck out a ton in the minors and then hit .169 with 95 strikeouts in his 52-game debut for the Cubs. Those struggles have continued this spring, which is why it might be Tommy La Stella or Arismendy Alcantara playing second base on Opening Day while the 22-year-old Baez tries to get on track back at Triple-A.

At the same time, Maddon also made it clear that he realizes the strikeouts and out-of-control swings are part of the overall package that contains Baez’s big-time power potential, saying: “I think it bothers the fans more than it bothers me.”

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer says moving Luis Valbuena doesn’t change Kris Bryant’s timetable

Kris Bryant AP

Luis Valbuena served as the Cubs’ regular third baseman last season, but he was traded to the Astros today in the Dexter Fowler deal. This means that the Cubs are ready to hand over the reigns to top prospect Kris Bryant, right? Not so fast.

According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said earlier today that moving Valbuena doesn’t change Bryant’s timetable, whatever that might be.

“When Kris is ready, when we think he’s ready to come up to the big leagues, we’ll make that decision but certainly trading Valbuena will not speed up that clock at all,” Hoyer said. “It’s all dependent on Kris.”

You could certainly make the case that Bryant is ready right now. The 23-year-old led the minors with 43 home runs last season while batting .325/.438/.661 over 138 games between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. Of course, it’s not that simple. Things could obviously change if Bryant forces the issue during the spring, but the Cubs figure to at least wait until late April/early May to delay his free agency clock by a year. The Cubs could turn to Mike Olt, Tommy LaStella, and possibly Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez at third base while they wait for Bryant.