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Prospect Alcantara looks electric in debut

MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

JUPITER, Fla. -- Sandy Alcantara may be new to the Marlins, but the hard-throwing right-hander is no stranger to seeing one of the game's top-rated prospects.

In the third inning of the Marlins' 3-2 win over the Nationals on Saturday at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, Alcantara faced outfielder Victor Robles, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 6-rated prospect in the sport. The at-bat, which was one of the most interesting matchups in the game, ended with a routine popout to first base.

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JUPITER, Fla. -- Sandy Alcantara may be new to the Marlins, but the hard-throwing right-hander is no stranger to seeing one of the game's top-rated prospects.

In the third inning of the Marlins' 3-2 win over the Nationals on Saturday at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, Alcantara faced outfielder Victor Robles, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 6-rated prospect in the sport. The at-bat, which was one of the most interesting matchups in the game, ended with a routine popout to first base.

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Alcantara is highly touted in his own right, ranked by Pipeline as Miami's No. 3 prospect.

At every level, Alcantara and Robles have competed against each other, so it was fitting they were matched up again. They've met everywhere from the Gulf Coast League to the Arizona Fall League.

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"He said 'hi' when he faced me today," Alcantara said.

Robles singled in his first at-bat off Jacob Turner. Alcantara entered in the third and also worked the fourth.

"I've had a long, good relationship with him," Robles said. "I've faced him a few times, and ever since the first time we've said 'hello,' and 'hi' to each other. We respect each other's game. When we go out there, we go out there to perform and try to do our job. All I said to him quickly afterwards was that he was firm -- he was throwing hard."

Acquired from the Cardinals in the Marcell Ozuna trade, Alcantara is one of the centerpieces in Miami's building process. Early in Spring Training, he is looking the part of a future ace, albeit an unpolished one.

In his first Grapefruit League outing, the 6-foot-4 right-hander retired all six batters he faced on 18 pitches. He recorded one strikeout, getting Kelvin Gutierrez looking at a two-seam fastball that came back over the outside corner in the fourth.

"His stuff looked electric," said J.T. Realmuto, Miami's designated hitter on Saturday.

Realmuto, Miami's regular catcher, observed Alcantara from the dugout, but he could see plenty of promise.

Tweet from @JoeFrisaro: Ready for his @Marlins #SpringTraining debut Sandy Alcantara pic.twitter.com/9QgpnQYr6S

"It looked easy," Realmuto said. "A lot of times, you get kids out there with power arms and they try to overthrow, especially this early in camp."

This early in Spring Training, Alcantara is building up his arm strength and refining his mechanics. His fastball maxed at 96 mph in the third inning, touching 95 in the fourth. When stretched out, the readings should at times reach triple digits.

"[Some guys] try to do too much to impress people," Realmuto said. "He seems like he's got it down, where he is going out there and doing his thing. So far, he's looked really good doing it."

Because he made quick work in his two innings, Alcantara threw an additional 27 pitches in the bullpen before wrapping up his day. Establishing fastball command is Alcantara's top Spring Training objective, especially the first few weeks.

"That's what I want, to control my fastball," Alcantara said. "I need that to get here."

Like about a dozen other pitchers, Alcantara is competing for an Opening Day rotation spot. The Marlins plan to not rush his development. Alcantara has just 8 1/3 big league innings under his belt.

"I feel great because the Marlins are giving me this opportunity," Alcantara said. "I came here to do my part and prove what I can do."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro.

Miami Marlins, Sandy Alcantara