Philadelphia Phillies 2018 season preview: Jorge Alfaro

Now is the time for Jorge Alfaro to prove he’s the Phillies catcher of the future

Catchers haven’t been developed in the Phillies organization since the days of Mike Lieberthal and Carlos Ruiz. Lou Marson, Cameron Rupp, Johnny Estrada, Sebastian Valle, Gabriel Lino, Tommy Joseph, the list goes on and on.

Looking to buck that trend in 2018 is the centerpiece of the Cole Hamels trade with Texas, Jorge Alfaro.

Making brief major league appearances in 2016 and 17 Alfaro has shown improvement at and behind the plate. In 29 games he hit an outstanding .318 with five home runs, but struck out 33 times to just three walks.

Because he’s been called up to the major leagues multiple times, Alfaro is out of minor league options and must start the 2018 season in the majors. With as much potential as he has, Alfaro is likely the opening day catcher this season and the starter throughout the year.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 16: Fans applaud Jorge Alfaro

Alfaro has proven he can play in the major leagues as pure hitter with a strong arm behind the plate. He has an opportunity to grow with a young pitching staff and be the next Lieberthal/Ruiz on a championship club.

However, there are still areas for Alfaro to improve this season that’ll be crucial in his quest to be that next franchise player. The strikeouts have to decrease dramatically, especially in an organization that values on-base percentage and efficiency in every aspect of the game.

Hitting coach John Mallee, formerly of the Cubs, will be tasked with getting to Alfaro to temper his anxiousness at the plate. The season prior to Mallee coming to Chicago, Cubs hitters had an on-base percentage of .305. That number improved dramatically under Mallee, going as high as .352 in his three seasons under Joe Maddon in Chicago.

Simply laying off pitches outside of the strike zone could boost Alfaro’s on-base percentage among the best in baseball.

Alfaro must also focus on improving defensively behind the plate and calling a good game. A full offseason to develop with the major league coaches and pitchers will do wonders for Alfaro’s pitch calling. Any signs of improvement behind the plate will be a major victory for Philadelphia’s coaching staff and Alfaro.

2018 Projections for Jorge Alfaro: 450 PA, 145 hits, 22 doubles, 3 triples, 22 HR, 8 SB, .308/.364/.425

Alfaro is one of the big pieces to the Phillies rebuild, and the likelihood of him starting an entire season is exciting. He’s one of the top-five players to watch this year as the Gabe Kapler era begins.