The St. Louis Cardinals opted to bring right-handed pitching prospect Sandy Alcantara straight to the big leagues from Double-A Springfield in 2017, jumping Triple-A Memphis and stashing him in their bullpen for the season’s final month. There, the flamethrower made his debut and appeared eight times in relief, pitching to no record and a 4.32 ERA over 8.1 innings. Before the call-up, Alcantara had been a starter in the Texas League, where he logged 125.1 innings over 25 games (22 starts), finishing 7-5 with a 4.31 ERA and 125 hits (9.0 H/9) and 54 walks (3.9 BB/9) against 106 strikeouts (7.6 K/9) in that span for Springfield.
After the season ended, the St. Louis Cardinals opted to send Sandy Alcantara to pitch for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League in October and November, and it’s there that Baseball Census observed him throw several times against some of the best prospects in baseball. Long term, Alcantara boasts some of the most electric and powerful stuff in all of baseball, if only the 22-year-old (DOB: September 7, 1995) can harness it well enough to remain in the rotation as he reaches the big leagues. Should he fall short of that, he seems poised to take on a late-inning bullpen role with a power arsenal that’ll include an impressive triple-digit fastball. Below, you’ll find our full Sandy Alcantara scouting report from our observations during the AFL, including pitch notes, game video, tool grades, projections, and more on the St. Louis Cardinals prospect.
Sandy Alcantara Scouting Report, St. Louis Cardinals — 2017
Dates observed in 2017: Arizona Fall League
Sandy Alcantara Scouting Report — St. Louis Cardinals — 2017 Game Video
Sandy Alcantara Scouting Report — Notes & Analysis
Ultimately, Sandy Alcantara will go as far as a starter as his command profile will take him — knowing, of course, that his plus-plus fastball and plus sinker combine to give him a bigger margin of error with command than the average rotation prospect. But command and control are issues here, and Alcantara must prove to the St. Louis Cardinals that he can harness his lively stuff enough to see big league lineups multiple times and remain efficient in pitch counts and baserunner traffic to consistently find success every fifth day.
One way to simplify that, perhaps, is to pick one breaking ball to develop and improve while scrapping the other. (A few outlets report Alcantara’s arsenal to only include one breaking ball, but he was throwing both a slider and a curve at AFL.) The two breaking balls bleed into each other too often, and lack distinct differences even when thrown well. He might be well served to pick one and concentrate on four pitches (four-seam, two-seam/sinker, changeup, breaking ball) rather than five, which should help simplify and perhaps nail down some command misses.
It’s worth remembering one thing, though, at the end of this Sandy Alcantara scouting report: I saw the 22-year-old at the very end of a very, very long season, stretching from spring training through a full summer, into a big league debut and then the AFL. By the middle of November, life might have been moving a million miles an hour in Alcantara’s world after so many changes this year, and so it’s entirely likely he gets his feet under him and comes out fresh and sharp for the St. Louis Cardinals by the start of next season after a little break this winter. (This goes for any guy who went through a full season and then the AFL, but perhaps particularly so in Alcantara’s case considering his workload, high profile, and big league audition.) To that end, please don’t read this full report as being too critical of Sandy Alcantara; there are issues that must be corrected, but he’s got a truly special arm with the makings of a legitimate big league arsenal and absurd access to serious velocity. That’s special.
Sandy Alcantara Scouting Report — Future Projection
Still just 22, Sandy Alcantara likely starts 2018 with Triple-A Memphis, but it may not be long before he’s up with the St. Louis Cardinals. Even with command issues discussed and acknowledged, I don’t think there’s any doubt Alcantara remains a starter for as long as possible through development in his first few big league seasons. He may have a lot of value as a rotation arm in St. Louis even with below-average command, and so it’s in the club’s best interest to keep him in that role as long as possible (which may be his entire career!). If the command profile never quite gets to where it needs to be, Alcantara should fill out a late-inning/set-up role nicely with his power stuff, and that’s a legitimate possibility that should be acknowledged if things don’t fall into place here. But I think in all likelihood, the St. Louis Cardinals have themselves a young mid-rotation arm here to develop, with an electric arsenal and already one of the best fastballs in baseball.
Overall Future Potential (Future Value): Mid-rotation profile with electric, deep arsenal; command issues may eventually push him to late-inning relief role (55)
MLB ETA: 2017
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