Through 2,611 minor-league at-bats across seven seasons, Detroit Tigers infielder Sergio Alcantara hit nine home runs.
In his first MLB at-bat Sunday, Alcantara ripped an 86.7 mph fastball from Minnesota Twins starter Rich Hill for a third-inning solo homer. The baseball went 388 feet over the wall in left-center field with a 95.2 mph exit velocity.
Alcantara’s blast gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead. He is the first Tigers position player to homer in his first at-bat since Reggie Sanders in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics on September 1, 1974.
The 24-year-old was recalled from the taxi squad Saturday as shortstop Niko Goodrum went to the 10-day injured list with a right oblique strain. After sitting out Saturday’s 4-3 loss, Alcantara got his first opportunity Sunday as the starting third baseman — a position he has started at three times in his professional career.
The Tigers, however, have always been confident in his arm strength.
Last season, Alcantara hit .247 with two homers, 27 RBIs, 48 walks and 71 strikeouts in 102 games for Double-A Erie. In 11 spring training games, he was 8-for-18 (.444) with one double, one triple, four RBIs and two walks.
“I’ve always tried to figure out if he’s going to be able to hit at this level,” Gardenhire said Friday. “I know he can play defense. … My question (was) whether he was going to be strong enough to hit. I tell you, in spring training, he hit. He was hitting line drives and had a really nice stroke going. I was impressed. That’s probably as good of an improvement as you can see on any of our young players. I think he’s moving along just fine.”
Based on Alcantara’s first MLB at-bat, he may be well on his way to becoming a long-term threat on offense.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content.