When the Phililes traded Cole Hamels at the 2015 Deadline, we immediately saw top prospects Jake Thompson and Nick Williams play in the Phillies organization Both helped the Reading Fightin’ Phils reach the Eastern League finals.
On the other hand, Jorge Alfaro was on the shelf after he sustained a broken ankle earlier in the season while with the AA Frisco Roughriders. Alfaro played three games late in the year with the Gulf Coast League Phillies, but it didn’t give fans an extended look at what Alfaro could do.
Alfaro came out of the gate on fire for Reading, carrying a 1.276 OPS through eight games. However, an oblique injury put Alfaro back on the disabled list and raised even more questions about whether or not he can stay healthy.
The catching prospect returned after two and a half weeks on the DL, and has put up solid numbers since then. In the 65 games since Alfaro’s return, he has put up a .266/.306/.438 hitting split. He has cranked 12 home runs with 53 RBIs at the plate in AA ball this year.
At the plate, Alfaro has plus raw power, but his approach has prevented him from fully applying it in-game. He’s lowered his strikeout rate significantly from last season, but it will always be below-average.
On the other hand, Alfaro can easily be an above-average defender behind the plate. His strong arm helps him nab runners on the bases without much trouble. Alfaro possesses plenty of athleticism, which should help him remain as a catcher.
However, Alfaro’s injury history has lost him valuable reps behind the plate. He has spent some time at first base in the past, and his arm is prototypical for a right fielder. The competition with AAA catcher Andrew Knapp may force one of the two to another position at some point in the future. In the meantime, Alfaro should get plenty of reps behind the plate, and he should only improve.
After ranking as the No. 5 prospect by Baseball America in the Phillies system after 2015, Alfaro has moved up one spot at midseason, ahead of fellow catching prospect Andrew Knapp. BA had the following to say on Alfaro in their midseason update:
"Yet another piece of the Hamels deal, Alfaro has upped his game this year at Double-A. He missed time with an oblique strain, but when healthy has shown his trademark power at the plate and athleticism behind it. He has a well above-average throwing arm as well, and has nabbed 45 percent of runners this year with Reading."
While some fans want to see Phillies prospects in the majors as soon as possible, catchers often take longer to develop than most other prospects. If Knapp joins the big-league club either this year or next, Alfaro should get plenty of time in AAA Lehigh Valley. He may see the majors in September, but Alfaro should still have his rookie status well into 2017.
At minimum, Alfaro should be a solid defensive catcher who can flash some power at the plate. If everything breaks right, the Phillies could have a top-end catcher who can impact the game with both his bat and arm.