The Phillies recently called up Rhys Hoskins and Jorge Alfaro from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
While starting the International League’s home run leader in Hoskins is an easy decision, the Phillies also need to give Jorge Alfaro the opportunity to be the starting catcher.
One might argue that the 24-year old, who has only seven Major League games under his belt isn’t ready or doesn’t deserve to start. I think at this point, why not give the keys to your top catching prospect? Looking at the production this year from Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp, they haven’t exactly torn the cover off the ball.
Rupp is batting .229 with 84 strikeouts in 223 at-bats while providing some power with ten home runs but has done little else. Knapp has a better average at .253 and has gotten on base at a .362 clip, but has also been a strikeout waiting to happen, punching out 52 times in 158 at-bats.
Enter Alfaro, who is 2-for-4 in his only game this season since being called up. Alfaro was signed by the Texas Rangers in 2010 at the age of 16. He was ranked as the Rangers’ No. 6 prospect in 2015 and came over to the Phillies in the Cole Hamels trade.
Jorge Alfaro has shown substantial power posting 18, 17 and 15 home run seasons in the Minor Leagues with a career .262 batting average. This season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Alfaro was having a bit of a down year offensively, batting .241 with seven home runs and 43 RBI.
With the Phillies in the rebuilding process, it’s time to see if Alfaro can develop into the catcher of the future. Rupp will be 29 before season’s end, and likely won’t be anything more than a journeyman catcher. Knapp is younger than Rupp and appears to have more of an upside. Looking at pure skill sets, Alfaro has more power, a better arm and is nearly two-years younger than Knapp, clearly with the highest upside of the three.
The Phillies should give Alfaro the bulk of the action behind the plate the rest of the season. Heading into next season, don’t be surprised to see Alfaro and Knapp as the catchers, with Rupp out of the picture.
Nick Williams, Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams and Alfaro could be an excellent group to build around, should they continue to develop. They could be the cornerstones when the Phillies are ready to contend a few years down the road.