LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida -- The Marlins continued their rebuilding efforts Wednesday by moving another All-Star outfielder and picking up yet another hard-throwing right-handed pitching prospect in the process.
Sandy Alcantara, the ninth-ranked prospect in the Cardinals system, is headed to Miami as part of the return for slugger Marcell Ozuna, along with Cardinals No. 6 prospect Magneuris Sierra, No. 13 Zac Gallen and Daniel Castano.
Alcantara is known primarily for his elite velocity. His fastball averaged 98.4 mph during an eight-game relief stint in the Majors this season and has hit triple digits often in the past. His breaking ball needs work and his changeup could become above-average but isn't there yet. His control of those offerings has been suspect as well, which could keep him from filling a starting role in the big leagues. He has the stuff to be a promising reliever right away.
Video: Springfield's Alcantara gets a strikeout
The 22-year-old right-hander posted a 4.31 ERA and 1.43 WHIP with 106 strikeouts and 54 walks over 125 1/3 innings for Double-A Springfield in 2017. He made his Major League debut in September and worked exclusively out of the bullpen, giving up four earned runs while fanning 10 and walking six over 8 1/3 frames. He also made five appearances in the Arizona Fall League and is playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic. He's seemingly set for an assignment to Triple-A New Orleans next spring, with the Marlins hoping he can iron out the control woes.
Alcantara is the second pitcher known for high velocity the Marlins have acquired this week. Jorge Guzman, now the team's No. 3 prospect, came over from the Yankees on Monday in the Giancarlo Stanton deal with an 80-grade fastball. Adding both Guzman and Alcantara jibes with Marlins director of player personnel Dan Greenlee's comments to MiLB.com this week when he said the club was targeting high-ceiling arms as part of its rebuild.
"I know we've sought pitching early on," Greenlee said. "This team offensively was extraordinary at the Major League level, and the pitching was less so. So we've prioritized pitching to an extent, prioritizing pitchers with stuff and stuff that's going to play at the Major League level. We do want to create pitching depth and high-upside pitching throughout the organization. You could mark that as a priority."
Sierra is best known for his speed and defensive prowess in the outfield. He's got plenty of range to be an asset at all three outfield spots, and his plus arm helped him record 10 outfield assists in the Minors last season.
Offseason MiLB include
His bat, however, is behind those other tools. There is little power in the profile -- he hit a career-high four homers in 2015. The left-handed hitter produced a .270/.318/.363 line in 101 games at Class A Advanced Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield but surprisingly saw that line climb to .317/.359/.317 in his 20 games with the big club. If he can hit for a decent average, there's plenty of cover elsewhere to make Sierra a useful starting outfielder. That could be tested quickly, with Christian Yelich the only outfielder remaining with the club, although his name continues to pop up in more trade rumors even though Miami seems inclined to hold on to him with four years and an option year remaining on his contract.
Ozuna won National League Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards in 2017 and was named to his second All-Star team. He hit .312/.376/.548 and posted career highs with 37 homers and 124 RBIs in 159 games. Ozuna has two years of arbitration left before he can become a free agent.
Gallen, a 22-year-old right-hander, made 26 starts between Palm Beach, Springfield and Triple-A Memphis this year, compiling a 2.93 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 147 2/3 innings. The 2016 third-round pick held opponents to a .245 batting average and issued 35 walks while recording 121 strikeouts.
Castano, a 2016 19th-round pick, spent this summer with Class A Short Season State College. The 23-year-old left-hander posted a 2.57 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with 81 strikeouts and 13 walks over 91 innings in 14 starts.