Alcántara shows off his well-rounded game in Fall League

October 17th, 2023

MESA, Ariz. -- Have a night, Kevin Alcántara.

After making what he decreed to be his all-time favorite catch in the top of the 10th inning to keep the game tied, the Cubs' No. 4 prospect drilled an opposite-field two-run walk-off homer for the Solar Sox in the bottom half of the frame, completing an eight-run comeback in their 10-8 win at Sloan Park on Monday.

Alcántara had never before hit a walk-off home run in his professional career. So what was going through his mind as he rounded the bases, seeing his ebullient teammates waiting for him at home plate ready to douse him with the remains of water coolers?

"Don't get my hair wet!"

You've seen epic shots of players getting sports drinks and other liquids poured over their heads, but this celebration featured a chest-first splash since MLB's No. 71 overall prospect wanted to keep his twists hairstyle in perfect form. His teammates gladly obliged.

Moments before stepping to the dish in the bottom of the 10th, Alcántara received an enormous bear hug in the dugout from Solar Sox hurler (Astros), whom he helped escape a perilous scenario with his third scintillating catch of the game. Facing Surprise southpaw Justin King with the winning run at second base, Alcántara looked at a called strike and then took a mighty hack on a center-cut heater, fouling it back to the screen. The next pitch came in nearly the same spot, and he didn't miss.

"I think opposite way and I hit a homer," Alcántara said. "My focus is, 'Hit it [hard]' and you see, I hit a homer. Thank you, God."

Before any offensive fireworks could begin for Mesa, Alcántara had to help keep a game teetering on the precipice within striking distance. When Surprise's Will Robertson (Blue Jays) slashed a ball to the gap in left-center in the sixth, it looked like at least one run would cross the plate. But as the Fall League broadcast pointed out, the 21-year-old Alcántara did his best Superman impression with a full-extension dive to take away extra bases.

As if spurred on by their center fielder's defensive theatrics, Mesa began to rally with a five-run sixth, which opened with a two-out single by James Triantos (CHC No. 9). Later in the frame, Alcántara sizzled a two-RBI double down the left-field line.

Before Alcántara could kick off a celebration at the Spring Training home of the Cubs, Triantos first came through. Down to Mesa's final strike in the ninth, the club's 2021 second-round pick roped a game-tying knock into left, his fourth hit and third RBI of the contest.

"Me and [Triantos] compete every time," Alcántara said. "This guy, he's awesome."

With his third Fall League homer, Alcántara picked up a share of the league lead. Gifted with above-average power, the native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, began to find his rhythm down the stretch of the regular season. He posted a 1.102 OPS in September between High-A South Bend and Double-A Tennessee, and then became part of the latter's Southern League championship squad.

After acing his full-season debut in 2022 with Single-A Myrtle Beach, Alcántara -- acquired in the package that sent Anthony Rizzo to New York in '21 -- delivered similar production this year at High-A, slashing .286/.341/.466 while finishing sixth in the Midwest League with 66 RBIs.

Few players among MLB Pipeline's Top 100 overall prospects list boast as complete of a profile as the 6-foot-6 Alcántara, who grades out as a 55 in four of five tool categories (on the 20-80 scouting scale). The ball explodes off his bat, and in the small sample size of playing in ballparks equipped with Statcast during his time in the Fall League, he has registered three balls with a 97 mph or higher exit velocity in two contests. There's little doubt his walk-off wallop also exceeded that mark.

Alcántara and Triantos make up a formidable duo atop the Mesa lineup, as they have the past two years in the Cubs system. While many of the players are formally meeting and bonding for the first time, the Solar Sox have already tapped into some chemistry over the first two-plus weeks of the campaign.

"The energy here is awesome," Alcántara said. "Every guy here has needed to compete and work hard this year. The guys, they support me so much. The energy, the electricity right here is so nice. It's unbelievable."