Alcantara gave up three runs on six hits and three walks over four innings while striking out four in Friday's Grapefruit League game against the Cardinals.
Four of the hits went for extra bases, including a first-inning homer by Yadier Molina, as the regulars in the Cards' lineup took the former Cards prospect to the woodshed. Alcantara now has an 11:6 K:BB and has given up three home runs through 16 spring innings, and while he still seems to be in the mix for a rotation spot, the Marlins may be better served by giving the 22-year-old fireballer his first taste of Triple-A before bringing him up to the majors for good.
Alcantara appears in line to break camp in the big-league rotation, Craig Mish of Sirius XM reports.
As Mish notes, Alcantara's schedule lines up for him to start the fourth game of the regular season. This is a big deal, as Miami won't need a fifth starter right away, so for Alcantara to be in line to be the No. 4 starter means that he is clearly ahead of those left competing for the final spot in the rotation. He has a 2.25 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and seven strikeouts in 12 innings this spring, but is probably not quite ready to quality big-league starter. Throwing strikes was a big issue for him last year, and while his fastball and changeup each has the potential to be a monster pitch, his slider lags behind as a clear third pitch. He has more upside than any Marlins starter, as he can touch triple digits with his fastball, so he is worth a flyer in NL-only leagues and deep mixed leagues now that it seems he has the inside track on a rotation spot.
Alcantara threw three scoreless innings of relief in Tuesday's Grapefruit League game against the Cardinals, walking two batters, hitting two others and uncorking a wild pitch but also allowing zero hits and striking out one.
The 22-year-old did his best Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh impression in the outing, but overall Alcantara has had a solid start to his spring, posting a 4:2 K:BB through eight innings. That likely isn't dominant enough to win him a rotation spot out of camp despite the Marlins' precarious pitching situation, but if he does begin the season at Triple-A New Orleans, a hot start could have him back in the majors in the first half.
With Dan Straily and Jose Urena sitting as the only two locks to open the season in Miami's rotation, Alcantara will join around 10 others in auditioning for one of the remaining three spots. The electric right-hander was one of the two headliners acquired by the Marlins in exchange for Marcell Ozuna earlier in the offseason. He made his major-league debut with the Cardinals in 2017 as a reliever, posting a 4.32 ERA, 1.80 WHIP and 10:6 K:BB across 8.1 innings of work. That said, he worked primarily as a starter with Double-A Springfield prior to his promotion, and assuming he sticks in that role this season, he'll likely require more seasoning in the minors before joining the Marlins' rotation.
The rest of the prospects headed to Miami have not yet been revealed, but the flame-throwing right-hander might be the headliner. He can touch triple digits with his fastball, but shaky command and inconsistent secondary offerings have many evaluators pegging him for a high-leverage relief role. He is still just 22, so there is time for him to improve in both areas. The Marlins will continue to develop him as a starter, as they won't be contending anytime soon. The impact on his fantasy value is complicated -- he was likely ticketed for a relief role sooner than later with the Cardinals, which could have yielded saves and strikeouts, but now he will have a chance to max out as a high-strikeout/high-WHIP starter.
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