2014 Goal: Hold Up For a Full Season
Last year (due to previous injuries) was Arismendy Alcantara’s first full season of professional baseball, and it showed. After posting an OPS in the high-.800s in May and June, Alcantara tailed off markedly in the last few months. In limited winter ball action, many noted that Alcantara showed signs of fatigue.
It’s perfectly understandable that a young player would have trouble holding his level of performance throughout a full season. However, if he is to be the Cubs’ future leadoff hitter and second baseman, he’s going to need to add the stamina to produce consistently over a full 150+ games.
This is not the only area Alcantara needs to work on, but for me, a full season of consistent production would be as encouraging sign from him as anything else.
2014 Goal: Stay Healthy
There are few players in the Cubs’ system more mysterious than infielder Stephen Bruno. He’s hit the living hell out of the ball since joining pro ball (combined .361/.441/.492), but has only played 86 games in those two seasons.
I don’t think it’s in Bruno’s future to be anything more than a good bench bat, as he hasn’t shown much over-the-fence power, but it’s simply too tough to get much of a read on a player who has played as little as he has. A full season of health will go a long way to clearing up his future.
2014 Goals: Retain Strikeout Rate Improvements
Gioskar Amaya had an incredibly up and down 2013, posting an OPS of .560 in April and .904 in July, before settling back at .526 in August. Early in April, I noted that Amaya was having trouble with any sort of heat, often swinging through 91 mph in the zone (a lot of this may have been due to very energetic and inconsistent swing mechanics). It showed, too, as Amaya struck out in 26.7% of his April plate appearances.
Over the course of the season though, Amaya quieted down his swing a tad, and the results showed. Amaya’s K% dropped all the way to 15.3% and 16.8% in July and August, respectively. This is over a relatively small sample, though, so saying he can retain such a K% is difficult to do.
If Amaya can keep his strikeout rate in that sort of range, he has the makings of a very exciting ballplayer. He’s pretty fast, plays a strong 2B, and has a surprising amount of pop in his bat. If everything works out, I could see him hitting for a solid average with 10+ homers and a bunch of doubles every year. But the strikeouts need to stay in the 15% range for that to happen.
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