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Cubs Prospect Perspective: Brayan Altuve

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Thoughts on how a player like this might get extra playing time and development if the MLB lockout continues.

The flag of Venezuela, Brayan Altuve’s home country
Photo by Luis Gutierrez/Norte Photo/Getty Images

While trying to come up with my Brayan Altuve article idea, I had a half-an-idea, which led to me remembering this gem of a scene from an episode of “I Love Lucy”:

Since this article makes no sense without the link, I’m off and running. Likely in the wrong direction, but I’m cool with being entirely wrong on occasion. Altuve was among the Cubs’ top three signings in the July 2019 international signing class, back when signing classes were done July 2 instead of January 15, as now. The other two big names were Kevin Made (who spent 2021 in Myrtle Beach) and Ronnier Quintero (2021 in Mesa), though Yohendrick Pinango has shown how incidental hype can be with performance. Here is my look at Altuve.

Brayan Altuve, infielder/outfielder

Born January 22, 2003. El Llano, Venezuela
Signed by the Cubs as an international free agent

In the 2021 Dominican Summer League, Altuve played 16 games as an outfielder, with 15 in left. and one in center. He played 10 times at third base , four times at first, and 43 games total. Defense is not Altuve’s strength, yet. On one of the few games that was streamed (yay, Mets!), I got to see Altuve turn around a few pitches. I dig his bat, even though quite a bit more progress needs to occur.

Which leads back to the above link. “This is easy,” says Lucille Ball as the chocolates are starting slowly. Then, the speed ramps up. Suddenly, it wasn’t easy. How will MLB teams deal with their facilities in February and March 2022 if the lockout endures for a while? Usually, the big leaguers amble in, and rule the roost until March kicks in. Then, the back fields become prospect central. If the guys on the 40-man roster are kept out, what is the proper utilization of the facilities?

The Cubs run their own facility, and don’t have to share. Is there a useful way to inject MLB coaches into minor league player development? Is that bad form? The big facility gets used in the summer and fall. In some way, shape, or fashion, getting hitters (like Altuve) more looks against some sort of pitching might help his development. How should that best be done?

Thirty different organizations ought to be running with contingency plans like children are told not to run around the house with scissors. “If we don’t know (insert important bit of information here) by (insert date here) maybe we should (insert contingency here).” As horrible as 2020 was, teams that properly connect the dots in 2022 might get extra looks for prospects. Perhaps without endangering innings limits for their real prospects. Getting three extra weeks of looks for the top eighty prospects would seem a positive, if it can be accomplished. Can it be? Teams have one chance.

And, if an organization tries something this cycle because space made it possible, maybe it becomes common practice later. Really, I have nothing specific I’m recommending, but if the opportunity avails, whoever figures out the best solution might get a development edge.

Altuve ought to be in the Mesa Complex League this summer. I doubt it will be as “five or six starts a week” type of guy, and it will probably be closer to “two starts a week guy.” However, I’m not betting any blue M&Ms on lifting his player development skills. Get him looks. Scads of looks. After all, the guys being locked out aren’t going to get them. If it looks appropriate, open minor league camp two weeks early.

The brass might have to eat a few chocolates if there’s a sudden solution for the lockout, but at least Altuve and others would get a few extra looks.