Welcome to the Jorge Alfaro edition of our 2015 “30 Prospects in 30 Days” series. We’ve decided to review some of the top prospects ranked by some of our favorite prospect analysts for fantasy baseball purposes. You can see some of the other recent prospects discussed here: Corey Seager, Miguel Sano, Addison Russell, Dylan Bundy, Jonathan Gray, Noah Syndergaard, Kris Bryant, Joey Gallo, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa.
Jorge Alfaro is a Columbian-born catching prospect that signed with the Texas Rangers for $1.3 million as an International Free Agent in 2010 at the age of sixteen. The now 21-year-old stands in at 6 feet 2 inches tall, 185 pounds and both throws and hits from the right side.
Alfaro is a big guy that flashes lots of power upside at the plate while sporting some fine defensive skills with the catcher’s gear on. It’s believed that once Alfaro refines some of his defensive skills in order to get by at the major league level, he will become the Rangers’ everyday catcher. And this should all happen at some point in the near future should all go well.
Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs slots Jorge Alfaro in at number 53 in his top-200 prospect list for 2015. McDaniel suggests that Alfaro possesses significant raw tools, but may not need each of those to fully blossom to earn a full-time spot behind the plate for Texas. McDaniel continues to say the following regarding Alfaro’s profile:
“He still needs some work on the finer points of catching, as his arm strength allows him to get away with stuff in the minors that he won’t be able to do in the majors. Like [fellow catchers] O’Conner, Betancourt and Hedges, Alfaro has some trouble with his approach and reaching his offensive upside, but his raw tools are the best of that bunch and he’ll head to Double-A to start 2015 as Texas’ catcher of the future.”
ESPN’s Keith Law ranked Alfaro as the 35th-best prospect on his top-100 list of prospects in January of this year. Law’s praises Alfaro’s raw tools and ceiling but expresses concerns over the catcher’s inconsistency and all-around over-aggressiveness:
“Alfaro has 80 raw power, with an 80 arm behind the plate, and he has the hands and athleticism to be an above-average receiver as well, with the bat speed to hit for a high average. Alfaro’s issue is that he plays hard all the time; he’s fourth gear, full throttle on every play, which means he can be too aggressive at the plate (walking on around five percent of his career plate appearances) and behind the dish (he can drag pitches out of the zone because he’s moving his hands too much).”
MLB.com ranks Alfaro as the 45th-best prospect on this year’s top-prospect list. They also believe that Alfaro has one of, if not the best combination of power potential and defensive prowess behind the plate. Something to keep in mind here is that the folks at MLB.com indicate that the Rangers have toyed with the ideas of getting their big man some time at first base and in the outfield. They also say:
“Alfaro has the strength and bat speed to drive balls out of any part of any ballpark without selling out for power, yet he’s still overly aggressive at the plate. He swings and misses frequently, and he needs to do a better job of taking pitches and recognizing breaking balls. If he figures it out, he could be an average hitter with 20-plus homers per season at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Similarly, he has a cannon arm and good athleticism for a catcher but needs a lot of refinement behind the plate. He threw out just 28 percent of basestealers and committed 23 passed balls in 90 games. Though the Rangers have experimented with Alfaro at first base and in the outfield, they’re not giving up on the idea that he can become an All-Star catcher.”
In just over 400 games (1,494 ABs) between five levels (R, A-, A, A+, AA), Alfaro owns a .262/.326/.432 slash line with 47 homers, 223 runs scored, 228 runs batted in and 33 stolen bases in 48 chances. He’s reached double-digit longballs in two seasons, while reaching double-digit homers and steals in just one. Early on, Alfaro failed to show much discipline at the plate as he struck out over 25% of the time in each of his first two seasons while taking free passes at under a 3% clip. However, Alfaro has made (small) strides in both of those departments since then by posting a 5.4% BB% and a 22.9% K% in 536 plate appearances between Advanced-A and Double-A in ‘14.
McDaniel notes that Alfaro could eventually be a .260/.355/.460 guy when he gets promoted, but it doesn’t seem like Texas will rush him up this season for us to see that line. ZiPS suggest that the Rangers’ prospect would slash .228/.280/.374 with 15 homers and 53 runs batted in should he receive 525 big league plate appearances. But that’s not going to happen this season either.
The Texas Rangers will likely ask Jorge Alfaro to return to Double-A Frisco to begin the 2015 season. He’ll continue to refine his craft behind the plate while attempting to improve his plate discipline and hit tool. Alfaro makes a fine $1 guy in your deeper dynasty leagues like Ottoneu but shouldn’t be considered in mixers for the upcoming year.