Raul Alcantara was once widely regarded as Oakland's top pitching prospect, but he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014, which obviously slowed his progress. Though he had a phenomenal eight-game stint at Triple-A Nashville last year (six earned runs, three walks), Alcantara did little to impress over his first five major league starts. He has a little more growing to do -- after all, he's logged only 68 innings above Double-A. He may need to change things to earn fantasy trust: Though his fastball touches the mid- to high-90s, his approach works more toward contact. He hasn't punched out more than 7.5 batters per nine at any level. Of course, the real optimism lies in his control (1.9 BB/9 in minors). He may compete for one of the back-end rotation spots in spring training.
Alcantara appears set to begin the season as Oakland's fifth starter based on how his schedule lines up this week and with Jesse Hahn struggling Saturday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Alcantara hasn't been impressive this spring with a 4.50 ERA with a 9:7 K:BB in 20 innings, but he's out of minor league options. His tenure as the fifth starter may not last long if Sonny Gray is able to return from a back injury in April.
Alcantara (1-1) gave up two earned runs on five hits and two walks over 5.1 innings in Thursday's 15-5 Cactus League win over the Brewers. He struck out three. Alcantara made a strong case in his ongoing bid for the fifth starter role, one day after Andrew Triggs, one of two main rivals for the job, put together a similarly impressive effort. Out of options, Alcantara is also being considered as a long-relief option, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports. The 24-year-old right-hander made mechanical adjustments ahead of Thursday's game, namely, correcting his arm slot. "I took everything I had going in the bullpen into the game," Alcantara said. "I felt great all spring, but today was my best start. Worked a little bit trying to get that fastball over, trying to get ahead with it, and I felt really good about today."
Alcantara, who's battling Andrew Triggs for the fifth spot in the rotation, didn't lose ground in manager Bob Melvin's eyes with a rocky Friday start, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports. "I don't know that that was his best stuff today," Melvin said, "but the way it started out early on, I think he managed it fine." Alcantara experienced control problems for the second straight start and gave up two earned runs on four hits and two walks over 3.1 innings while taking his first loss of spring. Although Alcantara, who is notably out of minor league options, now has a 4.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and has given up eight earned runs over 14.2 innings. Melvin hinted that the battle between him and Triggs could come down to the final week of spring or the Bay Bridge Series just before Opening Day.
Alcantara surrendered two earned runs on five hits and a walk over 2.2 innings in Sunday's 9-8 Cactus League victory over the Cubs. He also recorded a strikeout. Battling Andrew Triggs for the fifth spot in the rotation, Alcantara ran into some trouble against a Cubs lineup replete with regulars. He surrendered a two-run homer run to Kris Bryant in the third inning after getting out of a jam in the second. Alcantara also labored through a 25-pitch first inning that was partly of his own doing, as he issued a free pass to Kyle Schwarber and then put him on second by making an errant pickoff throw. Despite the uneven effort, Alcantara came away looking at the positives. "It was a tough lineup, but I made a lot of pitches early and obviously Kris Bryant got a good chunk of that ball," Alcantara said. "But I felt good out there and it felt like a good test for me."
Alcantara was credited with a hold in Thursday's 5-1 Cactus League win over the Rangers, giving up one earned run on one hit and one walk over three innings. He struck out two. An intriguing battle for the fifth starter role is building between Jesse Hahn and Alcantara, with Hahn making up some ground Thursday while notching the win with three scoreless innings. However, Alcantara countered with his own impressive effort, giving up only a run-scoring single to Hanser Alberto in his trio of frames. If Alcantara and Hahn remain on the same turn, manager Bob Melvin has indicated they're likely to switch roles later in the spring so that Alcantara gets a chance to make his case in at least one start.