Going into Sandy Alcantara's first start for Double-A Springfield, it was obvious the right-hander was eager to take the mound.
"He looked loose," Cardinals pitching coach Jason Simontacchi said. "In his bullpen, he was pretty good. The last four or five pitches, he started getting into it and really let them go."
Frisco had no answer for Alacantara on Friday as St. Louis' sixth-ranked prospect scattered four hits and struck out four over six innings in the Cardinals' 7-0 win at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
Alcantara (1-0) threw only 85 pitches, 54 for strikes. The 21-year-old worked around baserunners in the second, third and fourth before retiring the final six batters he faced.
"He didn't work ahead too much, but if he was down 1-0 he would come back and get some strikes," Simontacchi said. "He didn't have very many deep counts. His fastball and his sinker were working pretty good tonight. He made pitches when he needed to."
Alcantara faced his most difficult jam in the second. Eric Aguilera led off with a double and No. 7 Rangers prospect Jose Trevino singled to put runners on the corners with no outs. Cardinals left fielder Blake Drake helped his starter escape when he doubled up Aguilera at home after a flyout by Luke Tendler. Alcantara struck out Royce Bolinger to end the inning.
"Anytime you get first and third with no outs and you get a double play like that, there's no question it pumps you up," Simontacchi said. "It's a confidence-builder when you make some pitches and your defense comes up and makes a play like that."
Video: Springfield's Alcantara gets a strikeout
Alcantara has not lacked confidence in three years since St. Louis signed him out of the Dominican Republic. His demeanor was part of the reason the organization opted to move the 6-foot-4 hurler to Double-A after only six starts last season with Class A Advanced Palm Beach.
"I think it's just the fact that he loves to compete," Simontacchi said. "When he gets out there he's pretty serious, and his demeanor even in between innings -- whether he's doing good or bad -- he doesn't ride that emotional roller coaster. When you can control your emotions like that and not ride the emotional roller coaster, it allows you to go out there good or bad and just keep making pitches."
One area that will be key for a successful transition to Double-A is command. Alcantara averaged 4.32 walks per nine innings last season.
"Everybody in this organization feels that his stuff is good enough to get guys out in the strike zone," Simontacchi said. "We just need to get him to command the strike zone.
"Every pitcher needs command. It needs to be consistent. Just being a more complete pitcher and maturing as the competition gets smarter and tougher. You have to grow with them too and make adjustments."
Cardinals shortstop Alex Mejia backed Alcantara with two doubles and three RBIs. Luis Cruz and Bruce Caldwell each collected three hits.
Third-ranked Texas prospect Ariel Jurado (0-1) surrendered seven runs and 11 hits with a walk over 4 1/3 innings for Frisco.