Sandy Alcantara (Peoria Chiefs)

News from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Midwest League affiliate in Peoria for the period May 17-23

Sandy Alcantara had his two best starts of the season and St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta played in three rehab games for the Chiefs during their 3-4 week.

Game Summaries

Tuesday, May 17: Peoria Chiefs 4 at Kane County Cougars 3

A four-run first inning was all Peoria needed to escape victorious at Kane County (ARI). Singles from Magneuris Sierra, Eliezer Alvarez, R.J, Dennard and Chris Chinea and a Brian O’Keefe walk led to the explosive first inning. However, Beloit shut down the Peoria offense after the first; Peoria only recorded one hit throughout the rest of the ballgame.

The big first inning must have given Sandy Alcantara an extra boost because he produced his best start of the year by far. The flamethrower worked into the eighth inning, but didn’t record an out before being replaced. Alcantara gave up two earned runs on four hits with only two walks and 10 strikeouts.

This is what scouts and fans have been waiting to see all year, and it will be interesting to see how the Dominican backs up this start.

Wednesday May 18: Peoria Chiefs 5 at Kane County Cougars 3

Wednesday’s win followed a very similar script to the previous day’s victory. Peoria plated three runs in the second and one in the third and were able to cruise to victory, their fifth straight.

A pair of RBI singles from Leobaldo Pina and Sierra fueled the Chiefs’ top of the second before Dennard belted a double in the third to score Alvarez. Dennard and Pina finished the day 2-for-4 with two RBI combined while Sierra was 1-for-5 with two RBI.

Starter Jake Woodford was solid once again as he went six innings, giving up one unearned run on six hits and one walk. The righty also struck out three batters, and his ERA is down to 2.66 this season.

Thursday May 19: Peoria Chiefs 0 at Kane County Cougars 10

Junior Fernandez once again had a rough start, lasting only 4 2/3 innings in the loss. Fernandez’s ERA rose to 3.62 now after yielding six runs. The righty gave up eight hits and three walks with only two strikeouts.

While Fernandez wasn’t stellar, the offense didn’t help him out at all. Peoria was able to collect eight hits, but the Chiefs weren’t able to produce hits when needed. Peoria was 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, leaving 10 on base.

Edmundo Sosa and Alvarez went 2-for-3 and 2-for-4 respectively.

Friday May 20: Peoria Chiefs 8 vs. Beloit Snappers 3

A massive bottom of the eighth inning spurred a home win for the Chiefs over Beloit (OAK) last Friday. In the inning, Peoria sent 11 batters to the plate, seven of which scored. Sierra recorded two hits in the inning, scoring a run and recording an RBI. Alvarez, Chris Chinea, Leobaldo Pina and Aikin also recorded at least one RBI in the frame.

Peoria didn’t need all of those runs thanks to the solid pitching performance of Ryan Helsley. Like most of his recent starts, the 21-year-old gave up plenty of hits but was mostly able to limit the damage. Helsley went 6 1/3, giving up two runs on seven hits and one walk.

Sierra and Aikin each recorded two hits.

Jhonny Peralta also made his rehab debut on Friday. The Cardinals shortstop didn’t record a hit. His at-bats are linked below.

Saturday May 21: Peoria Chiefs 1 vs. Beloit Snappers 10

Peralta made his second rehab start and again went hitless in two at-bats before being replaced by Leobaldo Pina in the fifth inning.

The rest of the team mirrored Peralta’s struggles. While Peoria began with a run, they were held off the scoreboard for the rest of the night. Thomas Spitz had the hot bat in the leadoff spot, going 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored.

Brennan Leitao’s awesome stretch had to come to an end at some point, and this was it. Leitao gave up three runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 with a walk and four strikeouts. Brady Bowen also had a rough outing, yielding five in two innings on seven hits.

Sunday May 22: Peoria Chiefs 1 vs. Beloit Snappers 3

Peoria dropped its second straight game despite a solid pitching performance from Derian Gonzalez. The Venezuelan worked through 6 2/3 innings, giving up one run on four hits and three walks. The 21-year-old struck out eight batters.

The Chiefs offense was not able to provide any run support for Gonzalez, though. Peoria scattered hits throughout the game and only had three at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Alvarez was 2-for-4, while Dennard, Jose Godoy, Spitz and Aikin each recorded a hit. Peralta had a scheduled day off.

Monday May 23: Peoria Chiefs 4 vs. Beloit Snappers 5

Well, Sandy Alcantara backed up his best start of the season with an even better one on Monday. The Dominican struck out a career high 14 batters and only one walk in his six innings of work. While Alcantara gave up four runs, his ability to dominate the strike zone was the most impressive feat from a Peoria starting pitcher all year.

In the process, Alcantara tied two team records - most consecutive strikeouts, seven, and most strikeouts in a game at Dozer Park, 14.

Peoria worked the game to a tie in the bottom of the eighth inning thanks to a couple of Beloit errors. However, the rally was spoiled in the ninth when a solo shot against Luke Harrison was the difference as the Chiefs dropped the final three of four to the Snappers at home.

Sierra was 2-for-5 with a double, while Sosa and Chinea also recorded two hits. Peralta was 1-for-3 with a double and scored a run.

Peralta Comes to Town

Peralta began his rehab stint after injuring his thumb earlier in March. The shortstop was rusty offensively in his three games in Peoria, recording only one hit in his seven at-bats. However, Peralta looked like he was swinging the bat well and also moved well in the field. It is unclear whether the Cardinals shortstop will remain with Peoria beyond Wednesday.

Who’s Hot

Sandy Alcantara. Alcantara had a fantastic week. The righty recorded his first start of longer than six innings and had two straight starts of 10 or more strikeouts. It was even more encouraging to see that Alcantara allowed less than two walks in each of those outings.

It is clear the 20-year-old is learning how to harness his pitches better. He is able to work in the zone, and his stuff is so filthy that he can get batters to swing and miss at will when he can command his stuff. This is the kind of work we had been expecting from Alcantara.

Thomas Spitz. The 24-year-old had a fantastic week, recording a hit in every game in which he played. Manager Joe Kruzel even put him in the leadoff spot for one game, and it paid off fabulously as Spitz went 3-for-4. The rightfielder is hitting .424 in his last 10 games with four RBI and nine runs scored.

Spitz is seeing the ball much better at the plate and is also significantly cutting down on his strikeouts. He has 21 on the year, but only two in his last ten games. Spitz will continue to see time with more performances like this.

Who’s Not

Junior Fernandez. Fernandez is the only starting pitcher for the Chiefs who has lasted less than five innings twice. They have come back to back, and that lands him on this list again.

While his command has not awful, his ability to strike guys out has gone downhill, and that looks to be the core of his problems. Instead of striking guys out with his great off speed pitches, he is leaving them over the plate. Opposing hitters are taking advantage of that, and Fernandez is obviously suffering.

Last Week’s Hot and Cold Players

Eliezer Alvarez. The second baseman had another solid week, recording hits in each of his starts, while extending his hitting streak to 10 games. Alvarez boosted his average to .300 thanks to a couple of two-hit performances. The left-handed hitter struck out nine times in his seven games, however, which is a regression from last week.

Brennan Leitao. Leitao had a rough outing on Saturday, but that was the first time we had seen the 23-year-old struggle all year. It was arguably his worst performance of the year, three runs in 5 1/3 innings, but it certainly was not terrible.

R.J. Dennard. The first baseman did not necessarily rebound, but he was not bad. He had hits in five of six games played, going 6-for-24 (.250). Dennard only fanned twice, which was encouraging.


RHR Harley Holt was returned to Peoria last Friday from Palm Beach.

LHR Jordan DeLorenzo was returned to extended spring training from Peoria.

SS Johnny Peralta was assigned to Peoria last Friday on rehab from St. Louis.


RHRs Jery Then and Steven Gallardo remain on the 7-day DL.

Team Stats – Season to Date

Peoria remained mostly consistent over the last week offensively, but a few bad days wrecked the pitching staff’s numbers. One important thing to notice is that the Chiefs only have five home runs. They are clearly not a power-heavy team.

Offense Season Stat MWL rank of 16 (Last week’s rank)
BA .255 T-5 (5)
Runs 175 6 (6)
HR 5 15 (15)
Stolen Bases 32 11 (T-11)
OBP .318  6 (6)
OPS .654  6 (5)
Pitching Season Stat MWL rank of 16 (Last week’s rank)
ERA 3.18 7 (2)
Strikeouts 358 5 (7)
Walks 143 7 (7)
HR Allowed 18 T-3 (T-4)
Saves 9 13 (14)

Midwest League Western Division Standings

Club (Previous rank) W L Pct. GB L10 STRK
Cedar Rapids (2) 25 18 .581 - 7-3 W2
Clinton (1) 23 20 .535 2.0 2-8 L2
Beloit (4) 22 21 .512 3.0 6-4 W3
Kane County (3) 22 21 .512 3.0 4-6 W1
Peoria (5) 21 22 .488 4.0 6-4 L3
Wisconsin (6) 21 23 .477 4.5 5-5 L1
Burlington (7) 19 24 .442 6.0 6-4 W2
Quad Cities (8) 18 25 .419 7.0 4-6 L2

What’s Next

Peoria will host Kane County (22-21) through Thursday before they travel to Davenport for a four game set with Quad Cities (HOU) (18-25) through Monday. The Chiefs will return home to face Wisconsin (MIL) starting next Tuesday.


Follow Alex Kryah on Twitter @ar_Kryah9.

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