In 2013, Sandy signed with the Cardinals (see Transactions below).
Sandy trained with Felix Liriano, who also trained Junior Fernandez.
In 2016, Baseball America rated Alcantara as 6th-best prospect in the Cardinals' organization. Sandy was 4th-best prospect in the offseason before 2018 spring camps opened. He moved up to #2 in the spring of 2019.
2017: Alcantara was invited to play in the AFL Fall Stars Game.
Sandy lifts weights almost every day, except the day before he pitches and the day after.
Alcantara has his brother’s nickname tattooed on his left shoulder, and there’s a reason why that ink is there. Sandy is one of 11 children. But Alcantara lost his 17-year-old brother Alexander last October, when Alexander died in a motorcycle crash in their native Dominican Republic.
The tragic news arrived just as Sandy was about to pitch in the Arizona Fall League.
“I cried a lot,” said Alcantara, who couldn’t make it home for the funeral. “He was a great kid, devoted to our mother. And his life was cut short.”
Sandy vows to dedicate his career to his brother, and so far he has done well. (Walter Villa - Baseball America - 9/21/2018)
July 2019: Alcantara earned his first career All-Star selection. The Marlins rookie righthander came into the game with a mere 144 big league innings under his belt, including 101 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.
2019 season: It took some convincing to get the 24-year-old to buy in, but after he did, the results were telling. Alcantara finished up his first full big league season with 32 starts, a 3.88 ERA and close to 200 innings pitched.
“He has turned the corner,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “The confidence has been building. For Sandy, our conversations have been about being aggressive. 'Let’s get in the strike zone. Your stuff is good. Let’s go attack.' You have to refine even that as you go along.”
It started with durability. His 197 innings pitched set a Marlins’ rookie record and was the 17th most in the Majors. A year ago, the hard-throwing righthander opened the season at Triple-A New Orleans and, after being promoted in June, he missed more than two months with a right axillary infection.
Staying healthy wasn’t a concern this year, and Alcantara made steady strides, improving as the season rolled along. In his final seven starts, he had a 3.02 ERA, with 43 strikeouts in 48 innings.
“I always say, I work hard to get better every time,” Alcantara said. “That’s what I did. I learned from the small things. I focused on working my two-seam fastball for strikes. That’s what I have to do.” (Joe Frisaro- Oct. 18. 2019 - MLB.com)
March 17, 2020: Alcantara is throwing his support behind a COVID-19 relief effort. As part of PledgeIt initiative, an Alcantara autographed baseball is up for bidding, and the proceeds will benefit Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Inc. Alcantara announced via Twitter that he is among the athletes, from all sports, participating in the campaign.
In his Tweet, the Marlins' ace said: “We need to come together.” Anyone who donates at least $25 will be entered to win a signed Alcantara baseball; the winner will be selected randomly at the conclusion of the fundraising period.
As the Marlins and MLB are in a holding pattern, Alcantara is urging everyone to come together. On Alcantara’s PledgeIt page, this statement was posted: “If we’re going to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, it’s going to take all of us pitching in. Please join me, by making a donation here, and together we can make a difference!”
For the signed baseball, fans can bid: $25, $50, $100 or $250 to assist in the virus relief effort. (J Frisaro - MLB.com - March 17, 2020)
It was with a heavy heart that Sandy took the mound on July 27, 2021. His mother Francisca, the woman his family called “captain,” passed away. Upon learning the news in Washington, Alcantara returned to his native Dominican Republic before rejoining the ballclub on July 25 in Miami.
“She just took care of all of us,” Alcantara said. “Every morning I had a ‘have a good day’ text message or a blessing from her. I’m going to miss that. I will keep those messages and voice notes. She's the captain of the house, and that was hard for my family and for me, because she supported me and all my brothers and sister all the time. It is what it is. We've got to keep doing what we're doing.”
And that Alcantara did, recording a quality start in his first outing back from the bereavement list in Miami’s 7-3 win over Baltimore at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Alcantara used the mound as a respite, a place to forget about his recent loss. Already an ultra-focused individual, Alcantara keyed in on each pitch. “This week was hard for me because I lost my mom, and I hope God has her in a great place right now,” Alcantara said. “I feel good right now, being outside. I did a pretty good job today, and I hope God keeps giving me the opportunity to keep doing that." (DeNicola - mlb.com - 7/26/2021)
The door to Sandy Alcantara’s boyhood home in the Dominican Republic opened onto a street that doubled as a ball field. When the children in his neighborhood in Azua gathered to play after school, Alcantara scampered outside to join them. The kids used crates of oranges, sometimes purchased, sometimes pilfered, in place of a baseball. The fruit splattered upon contact, but Alcantara did not care. He lorded over those oranges.
“I didn’t like it when they took me out of the game,” he said. When other kids offered to throw, Alcantara resisted. “I like to throw innings,” Alcantara said. “Since I was a kid, playing in the street. I like pitching.”
More than a decade later, Alcantara has grown into a 6-foot-5, 200-pound right-hander with a modern arsenal and a throwback approach.
“It might get rough for an inning somewhere,” Marlins manager, Don Mattingly said. “And then he catches a groove again, and it’s like ‘Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.’ He just like goes through guys. It’s weird, right? You would think he’s getting tired. But then you’ll see him in the eighth and he’s hitting 100 mph and he looks like he’s playing catch. Everything seems easy for him.”
His journey from the street games in Azua to the majors was far from easy. Alcantara grew up with 10 brothers and sisters. When he was 11, his parents sent him to live with one of his sisters in the capital of Santo Domingo, about two hours from home, so he could study while playing baseball.
The Cardinals signed him at 16. To fill out his 145-pound frame, he hit the weights while gorging on a diet of plantains and rice.
In 2017, Alcantara debuted with the Cardinals when he was only 21.
Alcantara established himself in the Marlins rotation as an All-Star in 2019. Since that season, only Phillies starter Zack Wheeler has thrown more innings than Alcantara’s 544.1. Alcantara was one of only four pitchers to surpass 200 innings last season. Even fewer might reach that mark in 2022, with the offseason lockout disrupting spring training and providing teams more reasons to shelter pitchers.
The extinction of the workhorse is an industry-wide trend. A generation of pitchers has been raised to hulk up for maximum effort to generate hellacious velocity and movement. To protect their arms, teams have shortened their appearances. The phrase “go as hard as you can, for as long as you can” puts more emphasis on the former than the latter.
A decade ago, the average starting pitcher lasted just shy of six innings per outing, according to Stathead. In 2022, the average starter lasts a little over five. Alcantara has averaged seven innings per start. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he prioritizes preservation early in games.
“If you start the game using all your velo, maybe you’re going to get tired in the third inning, maybe in the fifth,” Alcantara said. “But I’m not like that. I like to start the game nice and easy, relax a little bit. After the fifth inning, I’ve got to use all my powers.”
He can take this approach because his arsenal is explosive and expansive. His version of “nice and easy” clocks around 96 mph. His slider often registers in the low 90s. His changeup is even more firm. The average velocity of the pitch has been 91.8 mph, but “sometimes, when I get mad, I can throw 95, 94 mph,” Alcantara said.
The boy from Azua grew into a man capable of dominating big-league lineups. Along the way, his refusal to cede the stage did not waver.
“I’m blessed,” Alcantara said. “Because I’m here now.” (McCullough-TheAthletic.com-June 21, 2022)
July 2022: Alcantara was selected to the MLB All-Star Game.
Sept. 2022: Alcantara chose to play for the Dominican Republic in the 2023 WBC.
Nov 16, 2022: At the age of 8, Sandy Alcantara decided to become a pitcher full time.
Though the Little Leaguer enjoyed showing off his arm in the outfield of La Luisa Blanca in Monte Plata, Dominican Republic, he had never been a particularly good hitter. So Alcantara remained on the mound, throwing the ball toward home plate around 35 mph.
On Nov 16, 2022, Alcantara became the first Marlin to capture the National League Cy Young Award after receiving 210 points and all 30 of the first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Braves southpaw Max Fried finished second (72 points) and Dodgers lefty Julio Urías finished third (66 votes). Alcantara is the third Dominican-born pitcher to win a Cy Young Award (Bartolo Colon in 2005 and Pedro Martinez three times). Martinez, Alcantara’s childhood hero, made the announcement.
“It means a lot, not just being the first Marlin. It being my first one has made me feel so special,” Alcantara said, “because I came here to the Marlins with my positive mentality to try to win, try to compete, try to get better. This year, I put [in] everything, working hard, and you guys can see I got great success. And now I won the National League Cy Young. I feel so happy and blessed.” (CD Nicola - MLB.com - Nov 16, 2022)
Nov 21, 2022: There was added buzz in the air at the previous month's grand opening of the Marlins' Dominican Republic Academy in Boca Chica, where ace Sandy addressed what everyone was hoping would happen in a few weeks' time.
Alcantara's words became a reality when he was named the first Marlin to capture the National League Cy Young.
The middle child in a family of 11 siblings, Alcantara never could have imagined this type of accolade, even in his wildest dreams. Not at age 3, when he began playing baseball, a rite of passage for children of the Caribbean nation. Not at age 8, when he moved in with his oldest sister, Aredei, and split time appearing in the outfield and on the mound at La Luisa Blanca in Monte Plata, Dominican Republic.
"We just start playing baseball — try to grow as a professional, try to look for a better life," Alcantara said. "When God gives you an opportunity, you have to take advantage, and I think that's why I feel so special."
Making the moment even more special was Alcantara's childhood hero, Martinez, being the one to deliver the news. Alcantara grew up watching Martinez, who remains the standard for Dominican pitching excellence. The pair first met about 11 years ago, when Alcantara had already signed a professional contract with the Cardinals. Alcantara admitted feeling nervous when Martinez said his name, then credited the legend as a mentor. The admiration was mutual.
Martinez compared Alcantara's 2022 season with his own 1997 campaign with the Expos. Neither received much support from a younger and inexperienced ballclub. Still, Martinez called it the most satisfying of his three Cy Young Awards. "I thank God for him, I thank God for his career," Martinez said on the MLB Network broadcast. "I'm extremely proud and thankful to have the opportunity to announce my colleague and countryman, Sandy Alcantara."
That Dominican pride carries across generations. Edward Cabrera, Jerar Encarnacion, Bryan De La Cruz and Eury Pérez were also present at the academy's ribbon-cutting ceremony. Pérez, Miami's top prospect, is living in South Florida this offseason and plans to train with Alcantara. Last month, Cabrera reflected on what it would mean if Alcantara made history. The 24-year-old, who considers Alcantara a mentor, is still in the earlier stages of his MLB career, with a 3.77 ERA in 21 starts.
"It will feel amazing," said Cabrera, who was 7 years old the last time a Dominican player won the Cy Young Award. "This is a guy that I hang out with a lot. He is a friend. We enjoy each other's company. We come from the same island, so it's just something that would be even more joyful and proud for me. We love Sandy, just simple as that. We just love that guy."
Like Martinez, Alcantara is now seen as a role model. His words and actions hold merit. People recognize Alcantara when he comes home to the Dominican Republic and eagerly ask for autographs and photos. At the academy opening, local youth from Liga Ozoria wore arm sleeves that read "lifetime Marlin" and Alcantara T-shirts. He can become the Pedro for future generations.
"Seeing those kids over there, it made me feel happy, because like I said over there, they are the future," Alcantara said. "I saw them over there. But I saw myself in there, too, because I was there, I was a kid. I was fighting for something in my life to take care of my family. And that's why I say, 'Don't give up, put everything in God's hands, keep working hard and follow your goals, because if I made it, you guys can make it.'" (CD Nicola - MLB.com - Nov 21, 2022)
Dec 5, 2022: Alcantara was named to the 2022 All-MLB First Team along with American League pitchers Justin Verlander, Shohei Ohtani, Framber Valdez and Alek Manoah. Fans and a panel of experts voted on the All-MLB Teams, considering only regular-season performance when casting ballots. (CD Nicola - MLB.com - Dec 5, 2022)
Enrique Rojas presented Sandy Alcantara with the 2022 Juan Marichal Award for the most outstanding Dominican player in Major League Baseball.
Feb 7, 2023: "Is that the real-life Sandy?"
Of the 100 children from the city of Doral attending Field Day presented by Accident Medical Group, one boy in particular couldn't believe he was sharing the field with Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara at Doral Meadow Park.
Alcantara, the 2022 National League Cy Young Award winner, and Jean Segura, a two-time All-Star, participated in the Marlins FanFest Caravan event, which features members of the organization visiting the community leading up to the Fanfest at loanDepot park. When Alcantara, Segura and Billy the Marlin weren't being swarmed for autographs, they spent more than an hour with the kids at hitting, fielding, pitching and running stations.
"It's always going to be fun coming here, hanging out with the kids," Alcantara said. "It's something that's going to be always special for me, just come to the park, have fun with the kids, playing a little catch with them, show them how to pitch, show them how to hit and all that stuff. I'm so happy to be here today."
Segura brought his oldest son, Juan Diego, so the 8-year-old could see his dad at an activity benefiting the community. The 11-year MLB veteran hopes to serve as a role model to youth. After signing with the Marlins, Segura wants to make an impact both on and off the field in Miami. Not only did Segura provide hitting instruction, but he also did ladder drills alongside the kids.
"I never got the opportunity, where Major Leaguers go there and teach us how to hit, how to throw," said Segura, who was born in San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic. "Right now, those kids, they are privileged to have someone to play in the Majors for so many years come here and spend time with them and teach them how to do the swing correctly and give you some support. I feel jealous, because I never had that type of experience. But at the end of the day, it's what we can do for human beings."
Alcantara spent time catching throws from kids fielding grounders, then showing them how to hold their glove to the side like he does. At a hitting station, Alcantara placed balls on the tee and reminded the children to step back so as not to get hit.
Hours earlier, Alcantara had gotten his work in, throwing his third live batting practice before Spring Training. A couple of the hitters he faced were familiar ones: former Marlins Adeiny Hechavarria and Brian Anderson. Alcantara plans on heading to Jupiter, Fla., after FanFest so he can throw a bullpen session ahead of the spring training report date.
"I can't wait to be out there," Alcantara said. "I'm that guy who always likes to be early. I'm going to go there, because I've got to throw a bullpen. I can't wait to get together with my teammates." (CD Nicola - MLB.com - Feb 7, 2023)
Alcantara committed to play for the Dominican Republic in the 2023 WBC.
March 29, 2023: Sandy was named as the Opening Day Starter for the Marlins against the Mets.
Here's how Sandy's sister paved the way for him.
Sandy wouldn't be where he is today without his sister, Aridia, the oldest of 11 siblings. When Sandy was still a young boy, Aridia told their mom she wanted to take him in. Married at the time, Aridia was a 20-minute motorcycle ride away from their childhood home in Azua, Dominican Republic.
"She told me just to guide him through the right path in life," Aridia said. "That was just always her advice. But Sandy has always been a very helpful kid. When I was working, he was cooking at home, sometimes helping any way he could in the house, even bathing my daughter in some situations. So he's always been a very calm guy."
Sandy stayed with Aridia for one and a half years, until she separated from her husband and moved five hours away to Monte Plata. But the sibling connection remained strong, reuniting them once again when Sandy was 8 until he signed with the Cardinals at 16.
"When we moved to Monte Plata, I took him there. He started falling in love with the game," Aridia said. "So he started participating, going to the baseball field. Sometimes when I had money, I was giving him money for the bus. But many times, he was walking to the field. I was always helping him in any ways I could, just for his well-being and for the love he had for the game. He kept improving all the time."
Aridia would walk past Sandy's practice to work, observing him having fun playing alongside all of the other children. Those moments checking in on him are some of Sandy's fondest memories of her.
"She was super hard on me," Alcantara said. "She was trying to make me go to school every day, trying to be in a good line every time, trying to not get out of the way. I think she was very good to me."
Aridia wound up hosting all 10 of her siblings at one point or another. Some stayed for a month. Others, like Sandy and his younger brother, Rafelin, remained for longer. The entire family would reunite at their mother's house for Christmas every year. Sandy's younger brother, Rafelin, now 25, helps Sandy train in South Florida. He was seated on the sofa with Sandy when his brother was announced as the first Cy Young winner in Marlins history. Rafelin sees firsthand how much Aridia worries about Sandy the child and Sandy the adult: What's he eating? How does he feel? Is he healthy?
"She's like a mom for all of us," Rafelin said. "More than dad, she's the person that always was there taking care of us — and also worrying about our well-being in all the ways that I can say, like the head of the family, practically. She's a mother figure." (Christina De Nicola - May 11, 2023)
At 14 years old, a close friend of Sandy's told him they should go to the capital in Santo Domingo to see a former pro ballplayer who had recently gotten a couple of guys signed. Before that could happen, however, Sandy needed permission to make the 45-minute trip.
"I had to ask my sister 24 hours ahead of time," Alcantara said. "'I have to go to Santo Domingo. There are people who want to see me throwing and pitching.' She said, 'Hey, we'll go together. Let's see who can see you there.' And she went with me. She saw everything was all right. The person that gave me the opportunity, she said, 'OK, he can stay here.' She then told me, 'Just give it everything you can, prepare, and take advantage of the opportunity.'"
One of Aridia's favorite memories of Sandy took place during his time in the capital. He was painting houses and fixing ceilings as extra work on the side. One day, he sent Aridia 1,000 pesos through an old friend."At the time, I needed it so much," Aridia said. "I didn't tell him anything, but he sent that to me. It was very impactful, just to see him like that, that he was always taking care of the family."
Aridia still lives in Monte Plata, where Sandy donated equipment to ballplayers of La Liga Luisa Blanca (his former little league) in 2019. She has two daughters and a grandson of her own. Alcantara hopes to obtain a visa for Aridia to watch him pitch in a Major League game for the first time, just like their younger brother Rafelin has been able to. Never much a fan of baseball, she watches games that are on TV because of him.
When Sandy and Aridia talk, it's about life and not baseball. They discuss how much they miss each other. Aridia might've been the one looking out for her younger brother, but now Sandy can do the same by providing for her and the rest of the family."
She's like my mother, and I feel so happy with her," Sandy said. "We talk every day, trying to be in contact, supporting each other." (Christina De Nicola - May 11, 2023)
July 2, 2013: Alcantara signed with the Cardinals, out of the Dominican. Sandy signed for $125,000 at age 16, via scout Rodney Jimenez.
Dec. 13, 2017: The Marlins traded Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals, receiving outfielder Magneuris Sierra and RHPs Sandy Alcantara and Zac Gallen.
- Nov 29, 2021: The Marlins signed Sandy to a five-year contract extension for $56 million. This deal becomes the largest for a pitcher with three arbitration years remaining. It also covers two years of free agency.