Fastball Command Separates Pablo Lopez
Hard-throwing Triple-A New Orleans righthander Sandy Alcantara is the jewel of the Marlins' improved farm system. The 22-year-old made 14 starts in the Pacific Coast League this season prior to making his Miami debut on June 29.
In those 14 Triple-A starts, Alcantara recorded a 3.71 ERA while striking out 64, walking 34 and allowing 74 hits in 85 innings.
The Marlins acquired Alcantara from the Cardinals in the December Marcell Ozuna trade. He made his big league debut last September, making eight relief appearances for the Cardinals.
The Marlins will develop him as a starter, just like the other pitching prospects they have targeted in trades—Jorge Guzman, Nick Neidert, Zac Gallen, Merandy Gonzalez—as they rebuild their big league pitching staff.
Alcantara, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, is supremely confident, and all that he is missing is fastball command.
BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD
Righthander Pablo Lopez cruised through 12 starts at Double-A Jacksonville and New Orleans this season prior to making him big league debut on June 30.
In the minors, Lopez recorded a 1.44 ERA with 66 strikeouts, 12 walks and 46 hits allowed in 62.1 innings. Despite those sterling numbers, the 22-year-old native of Venezuela is not overpowering—his fastball works at 91-93 mph, and he considers his changeup to be his out pitch.
Rather, Lopez is a control artist who has walked just 1.3 batters per nine innings in his pro career.
"He has great fastball command in all four quadrants,” Jacksonville manager Randy Ready said. "His fastball has late life that jumps on hitters. His secondary pitches are just as effective. He has a curveball that he uses on batters the second and third times through the order.”
Ready raves about Lopez’s preparation off the field and his competitiveness on the mound, and the Marlins are excited about the pitcher they acquired last July when they traded reliever David Phelps to the Mariners. Seattle signed him in 2012.
Leaving the Mariners, Lopez said, was emotional.
"They were the organization that gave me the opportunity to be a pro at age 16,” he said. "There were a lot of bonds there. But the trade opened doors for me here.”