Minnesota called up Jorge Alcala on Saturday to help with the homestretch of the season. A two-game day on Saturday means the club will need as many pitchers as possible, especially after using Jake Odorizzi in a cancelled game on Friday. Alcala came to the Twins as part of the Ryan Pressly trade and he provides a unique option for the Twins over the next couple weeks.
The 2019 season marked Alcala’s first full season in the Twins organization. He began the year as a starter in Pensacola, but he would eventually end up pitching out of the bullpen at Double- and Triple-A. There were some ups and downs as a starter, but his time as a reliever saw some positive improvements.
As a starter, he posted a 5.86 ERA in 16 starts (73 2/3 innings) with a 1.43 WHIP and a 75 to 22 strikeout to walk ratio. There were some issues with control as he hit five batters and allowed nine home runs. His posted an impressive 9.2 SO/9 which was even higher after the first month of the year where he had a 4-1 record with 11.0 SO/9.
Switching to a relief role seemed to help some of Alcala’s peripheral numbers. Across 15 appearances (36 2/3 innings), he allowed 19 earned runs on 34 hits. His strikeout rate increased from 9.2 SO/9 as a starter to 10.1 SO/9 as a reliever. He added in 41 strikeouts, but he walked 17 batters, which was almost as many as his time as a starter.
Some scouting reports critique parts of Alcala’s mechanics. He doesn’t use his legs enough and his effort with his pitching hurts his ability to repeat his delivery. There are times when he can overthrow and that impacts his control at the plate. His fastball is very good, but he needs to be able to locate all of his pitches to be a successful starter or reliever.
In the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, this is what we said about Alcala:
The first thing to know about Jorge Alcala is that he throws hard. His fastball sits anywhere from 93-99 MPH, but he frequently hits triple-digits, topping out at 102 MPH. Because of the velocity, his secondary pitches can be effective if they are merely average. His slider sits between 87 and 89 MPH, with a little bit of late movement. His changeup sits more in the mid-80s. It doesn’t move much, but he uses the same arm motion. Those secondary pitches aren’t consistent, and at best they’re average, and they will be the key in determining whether his future is as a starter or a late-inning reliever.
Right now, it looks like he will be a reliever and that’s what the Twins might need at this point in the season.