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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

Four-Seam Fastball (70)
Most impressive fastball we observed at AFL this year; easy, easy access to velocity. Ball explodes out of his hand. Typically dead straight with little by way of arm-side run and occasional modest sink. No problem reaching back to hit upper 90s, and velocity gives margin of error when he misses spots, but command needs to improve to establish the pitch early. Nevertheless, legitimate double-plus pitch with impressive velocity and real chance for more to come considering age and notably lean frame upon which to build. Velocity: 93-98, T 99.

Two-Seam Fastball (60)
Sinker; exceptional arm-side life with hard downward fade; tough for RHH to square up running hard inside. Command problems here as with the four-seamer; he will overthrow it, losing control of it arm-side at times, with other offerings flattening out in the zone when thrown too hard. Exceptional pitch when thrown right, though; late movement, exploding velocity with life. With command improvements, could become consistently effective against LHH on glove side. Velocity: 92-96, T 97.

Changeup (55)
Throws it hard; looks like a straight change with tumble and some late arm-side run. Tunnels well with his fastball/sinker combo; arm action sells pitch and looks identical to fastball out of the hand. Can sometimes throw it too hard, lacking speed differential to fastball, but even when thrown hard it doesn’t lose much life. Control acceptable right now, generally living in the lower half of the zone — but as with the rest of his arsenal, command must improve if it’s to be a go-to pitch, particularly against LHH. Velocity: 85-89, T 91.

Curveball (45)
Very hard and very sharp, with a short 12-to-6 hump. Inconsistent feel for it down in the zone; lacks side-to-side feel for it more than just getting it over for a strike in multiple AFL looks. Even so, curve is a workable off-speed look when it’s down with late break. As with the changeup, he’ll overthrow it at times; on curve, overthrow manifests itself as flattened out slider/cutter with little tilt and less hump. Can bleed into slider too often; may be worth picking/improving one of his two breaking balls and scrapping the other. Velocity: 81-83, T 84.

Slider (45)
Appears to be a relatively new offering in his arsenal. Throws it hard (actually, could probably throw it a bit harder), with 11-to-5 tilt late to the plate. Good extension out front and can get it out to his glove-side with tight spin and late break. As with the curve, lacks more nuanced side-to-side feel for the pitch and must rely on just getting it over with late life and velocity to work. Will get around the pitch and cast it at times, robbing it of depth. Can bleed into curveball too often; may be worth picking/improving one of his two breaking balls and scrapping the other. Velocity: 82-86, T 87.

Control/Command (45/40)
Command issues are prevalent with his entire arsenal; in some cases, late life on stuff will be harnessed and finessed over time, but he needs to throw more precise strikes than he did at AFL if he’s to remain a starter. Obviously, some margin of error here considering double-plus velocity; can reasonably survive with below-average command considering power profile, but some improvement is necessary. Feasible to expect that improvements will come with age; tough to remember he still won’t be 23 until next September. If command doesn’t improve at least a tick or two soon, though, his power stuff may prove too tantalizing a transition into a late-relief role rather than fight through continued rotation inconsistency.

Conventional mechanical look with three-quarters release and consistent follow-through to plate with occasional fall-off to first base side. Relatively short arm action in the back while staying on line to plate helps him hide the ball pretty well, particularly against RHH. Very low effort delivery; repeatable with a rotation profile and easy velocity without max effort look. Remarkably consistent mechanics, especially considering age and command issues, but some areas to improve — notably in more consistently allowing arm to catch up to body at release to avoid leaving fastballs high and arm-side. 1.41 - 1.47 to the plate from the stretch; hold runners fairly well, especially considering his size/length, predominantly with long/varied sets.

Interesting to see much-ballyhooed Alcantara in person for the first time at AFL; big fastball velo ranges suggest ability to play with the pitch: put something on, take something off, experiment with grips and life. That might profile well moving forward if his command can improve considerably; experimentation even suggests some foundation for advanced pitchability as he ages?

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

Did you like this Sandy Alcantara scouting report? Get more prospects here:

St. Louis Cardinals RHP Winston Nicacio — CLICK HERE

St. Louis Cardinals SS Delvin Perez — CLICK HERE

Tampa Bay Rays LHP Genesis Cabrera — CLICK HERE

Detroit Tigers 2B/3B Kody Eaves — CLICK HERE

Washington Nationals OF Victor Robles — CLICK HERE


More from our Sandy Alcantara scouting report and other St. Louis Cardinals prospects:

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Bobby DeMuro

Bobby DeMuro is the founder of Baseball Census. A former college and independent league baseball player, he now watches more than 200 games a year working full time for the site. You can follow him on Twitter @BobbyDeMuro for more.

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