Internal Options: Jorge Alfaro
Let’s suppose Jorge Alfaro maxes out his potential when he arrives in Philadelphia. What does that mean for the Phillies? Well, simply put, it will mean they have one of the best catchers in baseball. When the Phils traded for the powerful catcher, the above is what they hoped for. The question remains as to whether or not it is what they will get.
The Texas Rangers signed Alfaro as an international free agent in 2010. Five and a half years later, the Phils swooped in on the prospect when they sent Cole Hamels to Texas. Alfaro came back in a package with four other Texas prospects. However, he is the player the Phils are heavily counting on moving into the next generation of Phillies baseball.
On the diamond, teams are fortified defensively up the middle of the field. Catchers, middle infielders, and center fielders are crucial to a team’s success. In 2008, it was Carlos Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Shane Victorino. The Phillies are hoping for Odubel Herrera, J.P. Crawford, Scott Kingery, and yes, Alfaro to be the next version of that success.
Alfaro can absolutely fit the bill defensively. He has vastly improved his receiving, and while he tends to struggle blocking pitches, it will not be an ongoing issue back there. His arm strength is superior to any catcher this organization, or possibly any other, has seen in a long time.
Offensively, Alfaro is an interesting case. After missing most of 2015 with an injury, the 23 year old took major steps forward with his bat in 2016. Alfaro did improve his walk rate throughout the course of the season. In the first two months of 2016, Alfaro walked only two times. In the next 76 games, he took 21 walks. In short, the Phils expect him to hit balls much further than his first major league hit featured above.
The low walk number should not be a surprise because he is an aggressive swinger at the plate. Alfaro’s 15 homeruns does not seem as eye-popping as Reading teammates, Dylan Cozens and Rhys Hoskins, but he was able to show power to all fields. His swing is much calmer and controlled, which allowed him to hit the ball more to the middle of the field and the other way.
Alfaro will spend most of 2017 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. His progression will be one that Phillies fans will want to keep a very close eye on throughout the season. His path to success is key to the future in Philadelphia baseball.