BOSTON — By now, everybody knows the hottest names at Class AAA Iowa for the Cubs are Javy Baez and Kris Bryant. And, of course, Manny Ramirez.
So which one made the Pacific Coast League All-Star roster? Arismendy Alcantara.
The only hitter at Iowa selected for the game July 16, Alcantara is the Cubs’ best prospect nobody outside the organization is talking about — maybe even better than one or two of the so-called ‘‘Core Four’’ of Baez, Bryant, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler.
“I feel like he’s the underappreciated guy in our system,” general manager Jed Hoyer said of the 22-year-old package of power and speed, who looks to be on a collision course with a 2014 big-league debut.
“No one talks about him because of guys like Baez, Bryant and Almora. But he has a chance to put up a pretty special year in Triple-A when you look at doubles, triples, homers and stolen bases. Guys don’t really do that at that age. We’re really excited for him. He certainly belongs in that [core] group.”
Alcantara, whose PCL player of the week honors last week coincides with a hitting tear he’s been on for nearly a month, might be the first from the core group to reach the majors, though Hoyer wouldn’t reveal the front office’s thinking about that.
What’s certain is that after moving him from shortstop to second base to accommodate Baez, they’ve more recently begun playing him in center field to increase his versatility for a possible promotion, which might be a matter of roster needs after the trade deadline July 31.
And this: He’s one of only two players in the majors or minors (also Baltimore Orioles prospect Mike Yastrzemski) with double-digit totals in doubles (22), homers (11), triples (10) and stolen bases (20).
Through Wednesday, he had a 29-game streak in which he had hit .396 with a .443 on-base percentage and a .613 slugging percentage and was 10-for-11 in steals. He had failed to reach base in a game just once during that time and had raised his average 48 points to .310.
“He’s been playing great,” Hoyer said of the kid who homered in the prestigious Futures Game a year ago. “He’s on a really good trajectory. He struggled a little bit in April with his strike-zone control, and it’s gotten better and better every month. … I’m not going to answer yes or no whether he’ll come up at some point [this year], but certainly he’s opened our eyes.”
NOTE: Also making the PCL All-Star squad from Iowa were three pitchers: starters Kyle Hendricks and Tsuyoshi Wada and closer Blake Parker.