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Cubs to get brief look at 'do it all' Alcantara

OMAHA, Neb. -- Chicago Cubs Triple-A outfielder Ryan Kalish has played or been around some good talents in his years in baseball.

Coming up with the Boston Red Sox, he saw greats such as Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre go about their business. He also played alongside Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo when he was with the Cubs earlier this season.

So what does he think of teammate Arismendy Alcantara, who was called up Wednesday to make his major league debut while second baseman Darwin Barney is on paternity leave?

"He's one of my favorites I've ever come across," Kalish said Wednesday morning before the Iowa Cubs played the Omaha Storm Chasers. "He can do it all."

"Doing it all" is the phrase you hear often from people who have watched or played with Alcantara. He's the first of the position player prospects to get the call, albeit for only two days. The Cubs made it clear that he'll be coming back to Triple-A, but at least fans will get a glimpse of the future. The Cubs have started the transition everyone has been waiting for.

"He's been going in the right direction for some time now," VP of player development and amateur scouting Jason McLeod said. "He's earned a chance."

Alcantara has put up a fantasy player's dream season so far in Iowa. He's hitting .307 with 10 home runs, 41 RBIs, 25 doubles, 11 triples, 21 stolen bases and a .353 on-base percentage. Since moving to the leadoff spot 35 games ago he's been even better, batting .348 with a .401 on-base percentage. Some have compared him to Emilio Bonifacio as he can hit from both sides of the plate and play both the infield and outfield.

"I describe him as a Jose Reyes-type," Kalish said. "He's got all the tools. The power, the speed, the arm. Fans should know he has an unbelievable head on his shoulders."

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Alcantara doesn't look the part of a guy who can drive the ball, but he says since going to Triple-A he's had a better time finding the outfield gaps.

"These parks are bigger (than Double-A) and better for my game," Alcantara said before leaving for Cincinnati to join the Cubs for Wednesday's game against the Reds.

The numbers prove that out. He had 55 extra-base hits in 571 at-bats at Double-A Tennessee in 2013 and he already has 46 this season in 366 at-bats. The big parks in the majors might play to his style as well.

"He has gap power and raw speed," Kalish said. "When he has a clean double he just glides into second. When he's going for a triple, watch out. He turns it on."

Fans will only get a taste of his talent for two days until Barney returns. But that doesn't mean he can't come back to the big club someday soon. Trading season is upon us and the Cubs could move any one of the following players: Nate Schierholtz, Justin Ruggiano, Darwin Barney, Luis Valbuena and Bonifacio, if he's healthy.

That opens a spot for Alcantara, who has played 11 games in centerfield, 70 at second base and six at shortstop this season. Or the Cubs could decide to send down Junior Lake or Mike Olt if their struggles continue, or perhaps Alcantara finds his way to Wrigley Field by the time rosters expand in September.

One thing is for sure, Alcantara is going to get his chance. As for next season, if things go well he could be the Cubs Opening Day second baseman or centerfielder, or maybe somewhere else. The Cubs don't know how it's going to play out, they just know he's a talent.

"The season he's had here is insane," Kalish said. "The guy can play."

The future is finally here. At least for two days.