Cards' Alcantara lights up radar in scoreless Fall Stars turn
Right-hander only hurler to hit triple digits in AFL's marquee event
By Perry Cohen
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Fall League's Fall Stars Game is known as one of the final stops for top prospects before they reach Majors. Many of the game's alumni -- including Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Corey Seager -- have gone on to become superstars at the highest level.
On Saturday night, Sandy Alcantara reached that same stepping stone, and he put on a show. The Cardinals No. 9 prospect was the only pitcher to hit triple digits in the contest, averaging 98 mph on his 13 fastballs and striking out two in two scoreless frames as his West division team fell to the East, 4-2 in the 12th edition of the AFL's marquee event.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Fall Stars Game marked Alcantara's all-star game debut.
"It's a reward," Alcantara said. "It's the best opportunity for me because I've never been to an all-star game. This is my first one, I'm here."
The 6-foot-4 right-hander, who made his Major League debut on Sept. 3, relieved West Division starter Mitch Keller (Pirates No. 2 prospect) to open the third and scattered two hits in his two innings.
Alcantara's Fall Stars appearance was arguably his most impressive Fall League performance. In four regular-season starts, he's posted a 5.73 ERA, allowed 10 hits, issued eight walks and struck out 10 in 11 innings.
Alcantara's dominance on the mound kept some of baseball's best prospects off the base path.
"I was really focused for this day," Alcantara said. "I just tried to attack the zone and be focused on my fastball command."
The pitch Mountcastle hit for a double off Alcantara had a spin rate of 2,581 rotations per minute, per Statcast™. To put that into context, it is higher than the average rpm on four-seam fastballs of all but two Major League pitchers who threw more than 500 four-seamers in 2017 -- Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. (2,677) and Royals reliever Mike Minor (2,604).
After hitting 99.1 mph in the third inning, Alcantara's four-seam fastball clocked in at 100.1 mph with Angels No. 3 prospect Matt Thaiss at the dish.
"It's normal for me," he said. "I threw hard when I was in the Dominican and when I got here, I began to throw harder. I'm working hard for that."
Alcantara has issued at least one walk in each of his four Fall League starts, but didn't issue one against the East Division Fall Stars he faced, a group that included Top 100 prospects Robles, Ray (No. 58) and Kyle Tucker (Astros No. 1, MLB No. 7) and talented hitters such as Mountcastle, McKinney and Thaiss
While the East came back with three runs in the eighth and ultimately won, 4-2, Alcantara's outing was undoubtedly a positive sign for one of the most promising pitching prospects in the Cardinals' system.
Perry Cohen is a journalism student at Arizona State University. This story is part of a partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.