No. 13 Jorge Alcala, RHP, Chattanooga Lookouts
Nate’s Rank: 12, Gary’s Rank: 16
23-year-old Jorge Alcala was acquired from the Houston Astros along with our #15 prospect Gilberto Celestino in the July 27 Ryan Pressly trade. After signing with the Astros for a $10,000 bonus, he played his first season, 2015, in the Dominican Summer League.
Alcala quickly ran through both rookie league levels in 2016 earning a promotion to lower Class A Tri-City where in three starts he gave up eight runs in 13.2 innings. The Dominican finished the season with a 2.41 ERA in 56 innings, surrendering 46 hit, striking out 70, and allowing 17 walks.
In 2017, Alcala moved up early from Single-A Quad Cities to Advanced-A Level Buies Creek. He finished the season with a 3.05 ERA over 109.1 innings, with 61 hits, 95 K’s, 45 walks, for an impressive 1.061 WHIP.
MLB.com ranked Alcala the #7 Houston prospect coming into the 2018 season, and he is currently #11 the Twins system. The 6′ 3′, 180-pound right-hander has a 70 rated fastball combined with a 55 slider and an overall rating of 50. They praise his 95-98 MPH fastball and have this to say about the rest of his arsenal:
"His upper-80s slider and low-80s curveball are more notable for their velocity than their bite and can get slurvy at times, while his changeup can get too firm.”….If he does wind up in the bullpen, he has closer potential and could regularly hit 100 mph in shorter stints."
Alcala returned to Buies Creek to start this season compiling a 3.03 ERA in 38.2 innings before being promoted to AA Corpus Christi where he had posted a strong ERA of 3.54 over 40.2 innings before being traded.
Shortly after becoming a Twin, Alcala was placed on the 7-day disabled list with a reported right trapezius strain. The trapezoid is the major muscle of the upper back and shoulder. He has had some troubles in his first three starts at AA Chattanooga, compiling an ERA of 6.97, with eight walks in just 10.3 innings. The injury may be behind those problems.
Alcala’s overall stats for 2018 now sit at 3 wins and 10 losses, with an ERA of 3.71 in 89.2 innings. He has given up 71 hits, striking out 95, and allowing 43 walks. While holding opponents to a .217 batting average, his lack of control is a work in progress. Marc Hulet of FanGraphs still has Alcala ranked #4 among Twins prospects in his August update.
The question most evaluators have is whether Alcala profiles as a major league starter. The general lean at this point is that he eventually moves to the bullpen as a stopper that can easily hit and go over 100 MPH with his dominant fastball on short stints. That gives him a pretty high floor as a bullpen prospect. The key to reaching his ceiling as a #2 or 3 starter on a good staff will be his ability to develop a decent command of his secondary pitches. Still just 23, Alcala could be the big prize of the 2018 trade-deadline prospect haul.