JUPITER, Fla. -- Sandy Alcantara showcased a power fastball and plenty of potential throughout Spring Training, but on Tuesday, the Marlins decided the hard-throwing 22-year-old needs some more seasoning in the Minor Leagues.Alcantara was one of three players optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. Outfielder Braxton Lee and reliever Nick Wittgren
JUPITER, Fla. -- Sandy Alcantara showcased a power fastball and plenty of potential throughout Spring Training, but on Tuesday, the Marlins decided the hard-throwing 22-year-old needs some more seasoning in the Minor Leagues.
Alcantara was one of three players optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. Outfielder Braxton Lee and reliever Nick Wittgren also were sent down, leaving 42 players in camp.
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"We just felt like he wasn't quite ready to truly compete," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Obviously, his stuff is there. He's really close. We felt like there were some finishing touches, from the standpoint of just his mode of attack."
Ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 3 prospect, Alcantara opened eyes in the organization, striking out 11 in 16 Grapefruit League innings. He had a 3.38 ERA and a WHIP of 1.19.
"We felt like the last, probably, week to 10 days it became clear, for us, that there was another step there," Mattingly said.
The Marlins acquired Alcantara from the Cardinals in the Marcell Ozuna trade in December, and he promises to be a big part of the organization's future. But with Opening Day against the Cubs set for March 29 at Marlins Park, Alcantara will not be part of the team's initial rotation.
Alcantara's fastball reached 98 mph in Spring Training, and he's already touched triple digits in his pro career. But the lanky 6-foot-4, 170-pounder has limited big league experience, throwing 8 1/3 innings of relief for the Cardinals last September.
Alcantara has 31 days of big league service time, but Mattingly said the organization didn't consider that as a factor in making its decision.
"It was not even part of the conversation for us, 100 percent," Mattingly said. "There was nothing saying that anybody has to go down."
Another rookie, outfielder Lewis Brinson, acquired from Milwaukee in the Christian Yelich trade, is tracking toward being Miami's everyday center fielder. Brinson has 25 days of big league service time.
"If they were ready, obviously, Brinson is in the same boat," Mattingly said. "We could do the same thing with him, if we feel like he was ready. We'll see where that one goes. But obviously, he's had a good camp. He's shown us different things. He's made a different statement. The service issue isn't part of the conversation."
If Alcantara stays in the Minors until some point in May, it could delay when he is eligible for arbitration and/or free agency.
The Marlins have already announced that Jose Urena will start the opener, and that Dan Straily will pitch the second game.
Odrisamer Despaigne, Caleb Smith, Justin Nicolino and Jacob Turner are in the mix for the final three rotation spots. The club has already said that Rule 5 Draft pick Elieser Hernandez likely will open on the disabled list. Hernandez is recovering from dental surgery, and he should be ready in early April.
Deciding the rest of the rotation could come down to the final days of Spring Training. The club breaks camp on Sunday.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.