As we did last offseason, Twinkie Town writers are grading player who appeared in a game for the 2020 Minnesota Twins. (Last year’s grades can be found here, this year’s here.) Players will be graded individually on an A-F scale based on their hitting, fielding, and whatever else the author wants to consider. Today, we take a look at another young reliever.
Perhaps it took injury and roster expansion for Jorge Alcala to receive an opportunity in a major league bullpen, but his 2020 showed he deserves to stay there.
After a cup of coffee in 2019 as a September call-up, Alcala began the following season at the St. Paul alternate training site. He would only linger there for a week, as an injury to Zack Littell opened a spot in the relief corps.
For the rest of the regular season, the fireballing righty was a bullpen mainstay.
Though used primarily in lower-leverage situations in his first “full” season, Alcala’s numbers were still well above average. In 16 appearances, Alcala put forth a 2.63 ERA, 3.57 FIP, and 1.21 WHIP while striking out 27 batters at a 28.7 percent clip. Batters hit .244 off Alcala’s pitching, aided by a .321 BABIP over thirty percentage points higher than the team average.
All three of Alcala’s primary pitches - his fastball, slider, and changeup - were thrown well above the league mean in terms of velocity, Alcala touching triple digits with one September 2 heater. He also ranked in the solidly good range in terms of many of Baseball Savant’s percentiles, the only exception being his average 8.5 percent walk rate.
Despite his strong season, Alcala was surprisingly left off the roster for the Wild Card round. Whether adding him to the roster would have made a difference can be argued, but given his low-leverage relief role in 2020, any change would likely have been minimal this year.
Although his season came to an end without a chance to demonstrate his prowess in the playoffs, Alcala’s 2020 was a clear success. Writing about him moving forward, I only have one question, the same I had about promising then-rookie Luis Arraez last year: do you put the diacritical mark over the last “a” in his surname or not? I have seen it written with and without, and am not sure which is correct.
Either way, high marks for Jorge. Here’s to higher marks in 2021.
Grade: A (or is it Á?)
How would you grade Jorge Alcala’s 2020 season?
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