Jorge Alfaro Scouting Report (2014)
2014 has been a struggle for the Texas Rangers. Injuries to key players including Jurickson Profar, Martin Perez, others has them out of playoff contention in June. Big league disappointment gives way to minor league promise, however, as the team has a strong Myrtle Beach roster including Joey Gallo [SCOUTING REPORT], Alex Gonzalez [SCOUTING REPORT] and Jorge Alfaro. With Gallo and Gonzalez written up, it’s time to focus on Alfaro. What does the enigmatic backstop have to offer the organization?
The 6-foot-2, 218 pound catcher offers impressive athleticism for being built like an NFL fullback. Smooth motions, quick-twitch ability and fleetness of foot are all attributes of the Columbian-born backstop. Alfaro has previously been hailed by evaluators as a plus runner; my looks, he presented as an average runner who projects as below average. The catcher turned in a 4.37 Home-to-first time on a late break out of the box, showing average speed. As the 20-year old continues to weather the wear and tear of catching, Alfaro’s legs will pay the price.
Built with broad shoulders and filled out with lean muscle mass, Alfaro packs a punch with every swing. Batting practice was filled with a chorus of barrel to ball explosion. Alfaro strikes baseballs with ferocious conviction, causing swing-and-miss to creep into his offensive game. He also has length in his set-up, which slows his hands from staying in the hitting zone for an optimal length of time. The 2013 Arizona Fall League participant has plus bat speed, which is hindered by a slight hitch in his swing leading to contact issues.
In game action, Alfaro showed feel for contact with missed pitches as a result of poor mechanics. Quality breaking balls will exploit Alfaro’s offensive holes, but fastballs and mistakes are punished.
Alfaro flashed plus raw power in the two-game look, taking a middle-in fastball and turning on it to left field. On a no doubt home run late in a close game, Alfaro flashed a natural feel for hitting unseen prior to the plate appearance. If his hit tool can play at a 40, and it can, Alfaro will tap into his raw power in games.
Defensively, Jorge Alfaro has all the tools, yet is still working to refine them. The Myrtle Beach catcher moves well behind the plate and has the ability to curb his passed ball problems (16 this season). Improvement will come from more reps behind the plate. Possessing a 70 arm, Alfaro can throw behind runners and keep the opponents in check (no one dared run on him in my look), but he also forces plays. After allowing a passed ball, Alfaro tried to backpick a runner with no play. It was a clear act of frustration from the maturing backstop and catcher’s need to remain steady behind the plate. Alfaro projects as an average defender at the MLB level with the tools and athleticism to be more.
Jorge Alfaro remains a prospect with more questions than answers. While the catcher has grown since the 2013 season, when ROTOscouting editor (and then Fangraphs writer) Mike Newman had this to say on the catching prospect:
It’s impossible to not be enamored with Jorge Alfaro’s physical gifts, but projecting how they come together on a baseball field is awfully difficult. On defense, he presents as a catcher with little refinement and a demeanor bordering on lackadaisical. On offense, Alfaro has impressive raw power, but is a bit out of control combining unbridled swings with poor plate discipline. Few catchers can match Alfaro in terms of ceiling, but his floor is potentially non-existent.
While Alfaro has matured from this evaluation, much of Newman’s quote still rings true 18 months later. A questionable hit tool, combined with forcing the issue on defense results in a work in progress at best, and erratic at worst. It’s not an easy profile to project. Alfaro has the ceiling of an All-Star catcher, but is even more likely to bust and fail to progress. The risk-versus-reward is great with Alfaro.It is tempting to dream big on loud tools and project a stud catcher, but the reality is murkier. The dreamer sees a franchise player, but the realist sees a solid everyday catcher for a first division team.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Fringe Everyday Catcher Hitting Ability 30 40 Power 35 55 Speed 50 40 Fielding Ability 35 50 Arm 70 70
Owning Jorge Alfaro
In prospect circles, Alfaro has been built up as a baseball Hercules who’ll muscle his way to stardom. This has created unfair expectations for the right-handed hitter whose ceiling resembles Wilin Rosario. The Rockies catcher has been 20 home run contributor in back-to-back seasons before stumbling in 2014. However, Alfaro has moved through the Rangers system at a slower pace than Rosario did. (Rookie level to High-A). Given his power potential and lack of bases on balls, he’s more of a 5×5 keeper and dynasty league stash and hold who’s value drops in OBP leagues. Given the number of so-so catchers sitting on the waiver wire at any time, investing heavily in Jorge Alfaro is iffy. With so much risk involved in owning him, it may be better to deal the Rangers prospect.
12 Jun 2014 / Spencer Schneier /
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