Sandy Alcantara offers dinner to minor leaguers

JUPITER, Fla. — A few days ago, Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara sat at his locker wondering what he could do for some of the minor leaguers from Latin American countries who played on the courts. back of the Roger Complexe Dean Chevrolet Stadium this spring. It was then that an idea came to him: take them out for a meal.

So while the Marlins faced the Mets on Tuesday night in a Grapefruit League contest they weren’t scheduled to participate in, Alcantara and nearly 30 players at all levels of minors headed to the nearby Jumby Bay Island Grill. for a dinner of wings, cheeseburgers and quesadillas.

Alcantara, which signed a five-year, $56 million extension this offseason, is paying it forward. When he was a top prospect in the Cardinals system, Yadier Molina (Puerto Rico) hosted a similar rally. Once Alcantara joined the Marlins as the centerpiece of Marcell Ozuna’s trade, Martín Prado (Venezuela) did the same. When Prado retired, fellow countryman Miguel Rojas became his successor.

“When I came in from the minor leagues, I saw these guys do that for me, and I learned from that,” Alcantara said. “I did it yesterday because, like I said, I just want to share with them, ‘Have fun together, not just here in the park, next to the park. Try to be together, create a great conversation, not just about baseball, about the whole life of every country or every city or whatever.'”

Fellow rotations Elieser Hernandez and Pablo López, both from Venezuela, stopped. Reds too. The big four leaguers interacted with dinner guests, sharing stories from their time in the minor leagues. Among those in attendance were Bryan De La Cruz, who was recently opted for Triple-A Jacksonville, and No. 22 prospect Jerar Encarnación. Both are from the Dominican Republic.

Manager Don Mattingly knew that Alcantara had planned the exit with the help of a Marlins clubhouse assistant. As a young Bronx bomber, the veteran Yankees took Mattingly under their wing in the same way.

“You love seeing them make the whole organization whole,” Mattingly said. “When you see Sandy, who’s been successful, got a pretty good deal, to be able to give that back to some of his other countrymen and the kids that are in the system, it shows them that’s where you can For me, it’s like, pay it forward. So now these kids, when they’re successful, they’ll try to do the same, hopefully.

Building a culture has been a priority for the Marlins since Bruce Sherman’s ownership group took over in late 2017. Alcantara, Rojas, Hernandez and López have all been there for the ups and downs of rebuilding, the playoffs of 2020 and now renewed expectations in 2022.

Looking around the clubhouse on Wednesday’s rest day, unofficial captain Rojas remarked on how much easier his leadership role was these days. Veterans Anthony Bass, Richard Bleier and Dylan Floro guide the bullpen. Alcantara has been the rock of the rotation. Rojas has help from the positional side of compatriot Jesús Aguilar, as well as newcomers Joey Wendle and Jacob Stallings (USA).

“I think the most exciting part about it is [for] that they have a connection with the guys from the big league club,” Rojas said. “When you’re in the minor leagues, you always dream of being in that clubhouse, being next to those guys. And you see them walking around and going to the weight room and everything, and you always wanted to be there. So for me, that’s the kind of interaction we wanted to have with them and make them believe and make them think it’s possible. It can happen.”

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