For Alcantara, scoreless ASG frame just the start

July 10th, 2019

Marlins rookie right-hander came into Tuesday’s All-Star Game with a mere 143 2/3 big league innings under his belt, including 101 1/3 this season.

In his comparatively short MLB career, nothing matched the magnitude of taking the mound in the eighth inning of his first Midsummer Classic. Alcantara worked a scoreless eighth inning for the National League, including striking out Whit Merrifield of the Royals on a 99 mph four-seam fastball.

The American League held on for a 4-3 victory over the National League at Progressive Field.

“I’m really happy to be here, and glad I could represent my country and my team at this game,” Alcantara told reporters postgame. “I’m ready to get going again. I’ve been ready since Spring Training to do my job.”

For Alcantara, the night was another step forward in his fledgling career.

Entering with the NL down a run, Alcantara allowed an infield single to Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres, before he struck out Merrifield with an overpowering fastball. Alcantara closed out the inning by inducing Jose Abreu of the White Sox to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play. Abreu tapped a routine grounder on an 89 mph slider.

For Alcantara, just being among the best of the best is something the 23-year-old right-hander will cherish for the remainder of his career.

“It's amazing to be here in a clubhouse with these superstars like Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw,” Alcantara said. “Like I've said, I just feel super blessed for this opportunity.”

Alcantara threw 10 total pitches, seven of them for strikes. His hardest pitch was a 99.4 mph four-seam fastball.

On a building Marlins team that is leaning heavily on its young starting pitchers, Alcantara (4-8,3.82 ERA) will look to build on what he’s already accomplished.

“I've been talking with all the guys in the clubhouse,” Alcantara said. “Trying to have as many conversations as I can.”

Alcantara is armed with a four-seam fastball that averages 95.5 mph, which ranks him in the 84th percentile among pitchers. With the type of velocity and movement the lanky right-hander features, he’s tough to make solid contact against. His hard-hit percentage of 31.9 percent is below the MLB average of 34.4 percent.

Marlins closer Sergio Romo said Alcantara is only scratching the surface of what he can become.

“He's just a kid finding himself,” Romo said. “The stuff is so loud, and it plays. If he finds a way to hone it, how he has been -- in the zone, and attacking, [watch out],” Romo said. “He's figuring out that he can be in the zone and throw quality pitches, and he's going to be pretty darn effective, pretty darn competitive.”

Alcantara’s 101 1/3 innings in 17 starts are tops on the Marlins, just ahead of Trevor Richards, who has 99 innings in 18 starts.

When the season started, Alcantara was Miami’s No. 4 starter. The organization feels he has the makings of a top-of-the-rotation starter. To reach that level, manager Don Mattingly stressed that the right-hander needs to establish consistency.

“Consistent with his stuff,” Mattingly said. “Consistent with his game plan. Consistent with his work. His routines. Those are things that really seem simple, but they're tough for guys. It's a long season. It's a continual grind.

“It's about continuing to get ready for the next start. Not getting comfortable, and think you're OK, think you're pitching OK. It's always going forward. That's really what you want from your guys.”