SURPRISE, Ariz. -- After a rough start to begin the Arizona Fall League, Sandy Alcantara was absolutely dominant on Monday.The Cardinals' No. 9 prospect was unhittable as Surprise topped Scottsdale, 9-8, in walk-off fashion at Surprise Stadium.• Box scoreAlcantara, who gave up three runs in two innings in his first
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- After a rough start to begin the Arizona Fall League, Sandy Alcantara was absolutely dominant on Monday.
The Cardinals' No. 9 prospect was unhittable as Surprise topped Scottsdale, 9-8, in walk-off fashion at Surprise Stadium.
• Box score
Alcantara, who gave up three runs in two innings in his first start, walked one and fanned one over three scoreless frames.
"He was outstanding," Surprise manager Spike Owen said. "He had a really good sinker going. The first couple innings he was going more off-speed and working off-speed stuff, which was good. Then he came out and established his fastball and he's got a live arm. He's got really good stuff."
However, Alcantara's strong start was almost wasted as the Saguaros fell behind early and needed a three-run ninth inning to escape with the win.
Oscar Mercado, the Cardinals' No. 18 prospect, tied the game with a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth and scored the winning run when Chris Paul (Twins) followed up with a base hit.
Alcantara, 22, went 7-5 with a 4.31 ERA across 25 games (22 starts) with Double-A Springfield this season, but was especially good in the second half, when he posted a 3.08 ERA.
Alcantara is one of the Cardinals' most promising pitching prospects and it was easy to see why on Monday as he showed off his 70-grade fastball with a pair of 101 mph offerings, according to Trackman.
"It's a smooth, it's an easy 101," Owen said. "It's an electric arm. He's fun to watch pitch."
Lighting up the radar gun is enticing, but it's a lot less significant without solid command, something that has plagued Alcantara in the past. The right-hander averaged 3.88 walks per nine innings this season, but threw 24 of his 40 pitches for strikes against Scottsdale.
"Today, his command was a lot better," Owen said. "Location is always important, so he kept the ball down good today and he threw some good breaking balls. They couldn't just sit on one thing, he mixed it up well and threw a good game."
While Alcantara kept the game scoreless, the Scottsdale offense broke out as soon as he left.
Reds prospect Taylor Sparks hit a two-run homer to put Scottsdale on top 2-1, a lead they extended with two runs in the fifth, one in the seventh and three in the eighth.
Entering the bottom of the eighth, Surprise was down 8-3, but Billy McKinney (Yankees No. 23) highlighted a three-run eighth with a two-run triple to get the rally started.
McKinney would later score on a base hit, leaving his club down two.
After the first batter was retired in the ninth, four straight Saguaros reached, including Mercado and Paul, who ended the game.
William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.