You have had time to process the news. You have vented on Twitter. You yelled at the picture of Jed Hoyer hanging in your living room. But now it is time to take a look at the two newest members of the Cubs organization who came back as a part of the Anthony Rizzo trade on Thursday.
I’ll preface by saying that it will be an uphill battle by default thanks to the pressure being placed on these guys because of a situation completely out of their control. To be the return for the Cubs captain and nearly every fan’s favorite player isn’t easy.
The 6-foot-2 right-handed pitcher is about as high-upside as you can get from a 24-year-old in High-A. After signing as an (old?) international free agent at 19, Vizcaino really broke out in 2019 with a fastball that went from previously sitting in just the low-90s all the way up to touching triple-digits.
Despite not throwing above A-ball in his career, the Yankees invited him to the alternate site to develop and work on his delivery. Already equipped with that heat and an elite-level changeup with plenty of arm-side run, the organization wanted him to work on his slider and used a change in his lower half to transform the pitch from a slurvey offering to one with sharper bite to it.
So why is he 24 and only in High-A? First, you have to remember that seemingly every prospect will be a year older than you think they should be for their level due to the lost minor league season last year. But injuries to start off the 2021 campaign set him back a bit and have limited him to just six innings this year. Similar to how Brennen Davis used South Bend as a rehab assignment that wasn’t officially labeled as such, Vizcaino was throwing out of the bullpen at that same level instead of working in the rotation at Double-A.
With Vizcaino, you are looking at a pitcher that has the potential to be a middle of the rotation starter if everything goes right. If his new delivery has improved his slider to the point where it can be a second put-away pitch, that gives him three legitimate options and a good starter’s repertoire. In a situation where the slider doesn’t stick, you have a two-pitch reliever, albeit an unorthodox one with a changeup as the secondary offering.
But the changeup is no joke. A 70-grade secondary is tremendous, no matter what it is.
He is already on the 40-man roster and that could ultimately give him a track to the big leagues similar to that of Justin Steele, who was working as a starter until a necessary conversion to the big league bullpen. As for this year, I think we see Vizcaino suit up for South Bend in the bullpen as he makes his way back from injury. He could be up to Double-A by year’s end and be on track for a 2023 trip to Chicago.
Alexander Vizcaino changeups. Typically regarded as one of the best pitches in the Yankees' system. pic.twitter.com/U5Z4EHu4jg
— Lucas (@DBITLefty) February 12, 2021
The lone teenager acquired at the deadline so far (funny, because I was told Jed Hoyer only targets teenagers), Alcantara has the greatest potential of anyone acquired by the front office so far. He is just 19 years old and has played his baseball in the complex league this year, where he has absolutely torn it up to the tune of a .360/.448/.520 slash line. Alcantara is to the Yankees as Owen Caissie has been to the Cubs.
The right-handed-hitting centerfielder signed as the 15th ranked international free agent back in 2018 and made his stateside debut as a 16-year-old. He has potential for five good tools across the board and shows off great athleticism despite his large 6-foot-6 frame. I would compare this acquisition to the Reggie Preciado one from the Padres.
Alcantara is raw, lanky, hits the ball hard, and has projectability through the roof. A bonus? He reportedly has a really good work ethic and baseball IQ.
We can expect Alcantara to join the group of young, high-upside prospects present in Mesa and Low-A Myrtle Beach. It might be an initial assignment to Arizona before joining the Pelicans roster prior to the end of the year. Don’t expect Alcantara in Chicago until 2024 or 2025 but I will allow you to get super excited about this kid in the meantime.
Cubs acquire Yankees No. 12 prospect, 19 year-old Kevin Alcantara
He’s RAKED in 8 rookie-ball games this season:
.360 AVG, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, .968 OPS
— Farm To Fame (@FarmToFame_) July 29, 2021