Sandy Alcantara could be on the fast track to the big leagues this season.
St. Louis Cardinals pitchers Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver turned heads in 2016 by earning earlier-than-expected promotions to the major leagues. Could 21-year-old Sandy Alcantara be the next pitcher to be fast-tracked to the big leagues?
As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Derrick Goold wrote on Wednesday afternoon, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak isn’t ruling out the possibility that Alcantara could pitch in the major leagues this season. Mozeliak told Goold that he believes Alcantara is “capable of doing just about anything in the game,” but acknowledged the possibility that he has the makeup to be a contributor out of the bullpen in 2017.
Alcantara doesn’t exactly have the experience to make one think that he’s on the cusp of reaching the majors. Though he started six games near the end of the season for High-A Palm Beach last year, he spent most of his season with the Low-A Peoria Chiefs, posting a 4.08 ERA with a .228 opponent batting average, 119 strikeouts, and 45 walks in 90 1/3 innings. 2016 was the first season during which he pitched for a full-season club.
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Ever since Trevor Rosenthal was recalled from Double-A in July of 2012, Mozeliak seemingly has been very comfortable bringing up pitchers ahead of their ETAs. Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez, and Michael Wacha were all recalled to boost an ailing staff in May of 2013. Maness had made just four appearances at Triple-A prior to his promotion, while Martinez was recalled straight out of Double-A and had pitched in just 18 games above A-ball before making the jump. Wacha was the least experienced of them all, arriving less than a year after being selected in the first round of the MLB Draft. Lefty Kevin Siegrist was also summoned to the majors that June after having made just five Triple-A appearances.
The phenomenon continued in 2014, as lefty Marco Gonzales was recalled just over a year after being selected in the first round. Righthander Sam Tuivailala also made his way up in September after making just two Triple-A appearances. After avoiding aggressive pitcher call-ups in 2015, Mozeliak went back to being risky last season, bringing up Alex Reyes after just 14 Triple-A appearances and Luke Weaver after only 13 appearances in the upper minors (including only one in Triple-A).
With that record, it wouldn’t be surprising in the least to see Mozeliak summon Alcantara in 2017, especially considering the Cardinals’ lack of bullpen depth. The Cards have a solid amount of rotation depth this season, so it’s difficult to imagine Alcantara being called up to start this year–though stranger things have happened–but if the Cardinals are in search of some elite velocity in the ‘pen come July or August, Alcantara might just be their man.