When I starting writing for On Tap Sports Net, my first piece was part of a series called Where Are They Now, a series about former Cubs players and their lives after baseball, or after they departed from the Cubs.
This piece is about some current Cubs you may not have heard of before May 20.
The Cubs are 22-11 since May 1, and as we’ve discussed recently at On Tap, they deserve some respect.
A big part of the success has been the contributions from players recently promoted from Triple-A Iowa. Patrick Wisdom, Rafael Ortega, and Sergio Alcantara have caught the eyes of Cubs fans with their contributions with many Cubs on the Injured List.
Patrick is Wise
Wisdom was promoted due to injuries for David Bote and Matt Duffy. When he was promoted, the 29-year-old had only played 43 career major league games, 32 of those games were played with St. Louis in 2018.
This season with the Cubs, Wisdom has a slashline of .412/.444/1.088 in 34 at-bats. Most notably, Wisdom has seven homers in 13 games, and most recently three in his last two games against the Giants over the weekend.
He has become a fan favorite quickly.
After looking at his numbers and history, Wisdom has never received a chance to form a role with any team he’s played for. Wisdom was a first-round pick for the Cardinals back in 2012.
Wisdom spent four years in the Cardinals minor league system. The infielder broke out in 2017 when he hit 31 homers and drove in 89 runs in 127 games for the Cardinals Triple-A affiliate, finishing the season with a .243/.310/.507 slash line.
After making his debut with the Cardinals in August of 2018, St. Louis traded him to the Rangers for Drew Robinson. Robinson hasn’t played in the majors since 2019. He played in five career games with the Cardinals and was released after the season.
In 2019, Wisdom spent most of his tenure in the minors, playing just nine major league games with the Rangers.
Wisdom finished with another 31 homer season with Triple-A Nashville and became a free agent after the 2019 season.
After signing a major league contract with the Mariners in the offseason, Seatle DFA’d Wisdom in early August of last season. He never played a game in a Mariners uniform.
The Cubs swooped in a month later. He made his Cubs debut the day he was signed, pinch hitting for Anthony Rizzo on September 25.
The Cubs eventually DFA’d Wisdom two days later after they promoted pitcher Brailyn Marquez. He elected free agency at season’s end. Wisdom signed a minor league contract with the Cubs in January.
And he’s made the most of the opportunity.
Many might believe Alcántara’s first career hit was with the Cubs, but believe it or not, his first career hit was a homer with the Tigers in his first major league at-bat in 2020. The home run was off former Cubs pitcher Rich Hill.
Alcántara was originally signed by the Diamondbacks in 2012 as an international free agent, meaning at one time he played for the Kane County Cougars in Chicago’s northwest suburb Geneva.
He was one of the pieces the Tigers got back in the J.D. Martinez trade with Arizona in 2017. He finally made his major league debut in September of 2020.
He became the eighth Tigers player to hit a home run in the first at-bat of a major league career. Alcántara was the first since pitcher Daniel Norris completed the feat in 2015, ironically at Wrigley Field, and first position player since Reggie Sanders in 1974.
In 2,611 minor league plate appearances before his major league debut, Alcántara only hit nine home runs.
Alcántara was DFA’d in January after the Tigers signed catcher Wilson Ramos. The Cubs claimed him off waivers in February but was DFA’d after the Cubs signed reliever Brandon Workman. Fortunately for the Cubs, he was outrighted and invited to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.
In 20 games in Iowa this season, Alcántara’s slashline was .328/.481/.459. The offense was there and the defense showed as well.
The Cubs promoted him for infield depth and in eight games the infielder is 6-for-14 at the plate, including two doubles and two triples.
He’s made the most of the opportunity and many on Cubs Twitter want more playing time for him.
Ortega is the least popular of the three reinforcements, but he’s had fun moments with the Cubs.
Ortega, 30, has played for eight different organizations, including the Cubs. He was signed by the Rockies in 2008 as an amateur free agent. Ortega made his major league debut in 2016 with the Angels.
Ortega has a career -1.2 WAR. He spent a large part of his career playing as a depth piece for teams in the minor leagues.
Ortega likely won’t stick around for long with Jason Heyward’s activation and Jake Marisnick’s quickly on the horizon.
Overall, these three players were unknowns entering the season for the Cubs. However, they have all had some impact on this roster and have helped the Cubs propel themselves into first place.