Until recently, Raul Alcantara was a footnote in a trade that happened nearly five years ago.
Now, he’s trying to position himself to become a factor in the A’s starting rotation in 2017. Alcantara rode the wave of another huge offensive game from his teammates and pocketed his first major league victory in Oakland’s 11-2 rout of the Texas Rangers on Saturday.
The right-hander from the Dominican Republic went 5 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and two runs. It wasn’t spectacular — in fact, it fell short of a “quality start” — but if you’ve watched either of Alcantara’s past two outings, you come away feeling good about his promise.
After a poor showing in his big league debut Sept. 5, Alcantara has bounced back and allowed just four runs over 11 1/3 combined innings in his past two outings, with seven strikeouts and one walk. At the very least, Alcantara should be one of several candidates throwing his hat in the ring in the battle for a rotation spot next spring.
And it goes to show that some trades can’t be fully judged until years down the road. In December 2011, the A’s dealt closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney to the Boston Red Sox for outfielder Josh Reddick, infielder Miles Head and Alcantara, who was just 19 at the time.
That deal could be declared a win for the A’s purely based on the player that Reddick blossomed into. Head never factored into Oakland’s big league picture. Alcantara worked his way into being ranked the A’s best pitching prospect but was dealt a major setback when he required Tommy John surgery in May 2014. Alcantara was with Double-A Midland at the time, but he disappeared from the radar as players do when they undergo such a long-term procedure.
He came back in 2015 and posted a 3.88 ERA over 15 starts for Single-A Stockton before beginning this season back in Double-A. Alcantara posted a 4.80 ERA in 17 starts with Midland. Then, because the A’s big league club needed to call on so many resources at Triple-A Nashville, Alcantara got bumped up to Triple-A and suddenly took off. He posted a 4-0 record and 1.18 ERA over eight starts and received his first major league call-up.
It’s been quite a road he’s traveled, and Alcantara is still just 23. He should get two more starts this season to continue proving he’s a pitcher worth paying attention to once 2017 arrives.