Jorge Alfaro: Surprise Top-100 Prospect

When MLB.com released its top-100 prospect list, I was excited to see shortstop Luis Sardinas included at number 84. As my eyes scrolled from left-to-right across the page, a second Hickory Crawdads player ranked 88th. His name? Jorge Alfaro. The 19-year old ranked fifth on my list of best catchers scouted in 2012 behind a quartet of current and former top-100 players.

Video after the jump

My summary of Alfaro from the late September piece;

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.

From a physical standpoint, Alfaro is unique compared to catchers scouted previously. It’s easy to laud the athleticism of lean, explosive backstops like Christian Bethancourt or Travis D’Arnaud. But when a catcher is built like a tank, one assumes physical strength will be his only asset. Not true in Alfaro’s case as I pulled multiple 4.05 home-to-first times from video — Impressive speed for a center fielder — Unheard of for a catcher.

This isn’t to say he’ll keep his speed at full physical maturity. With his build, he won’t. However, Alfaro’s present speed supports prospect chatter of his being an elite athlete. It also allows for forgiveness throughout the prospect profile when discussing his underdeveloped baseball skills.

At the plate, Alfaro’s set up reminds me of Jefry Marte, a once promising Mets prospect recently traded to the Oakland Athletics. He possesses above average bat speed, but length in the back of his swing causes it to play down. In my two game look, Alfaro swung through ten or more pitches showing little feel for contact. He also chased a number of fastballs up in the zone, as well as off-speed pitches low-and-away.

Alfaro’s triple slash line of .257/.317/.426 was above average for the league, but boosted by an unsustainable BABIP of .349. Additionally, his strikeout rate of 28% against a walk rate of 5.3% correlated to the prospect seen in person. If there’s a silver lining, it’s the fact his walk rate more than doubled from the previous year and strikeout dropped by nearly 4%. Alfaro will always be a player with swing-and-miss in his offensive game, but should continue to lower strikeout totals as hitting skills continue to develop.

With catch and throw skills, Alfaro has a strong base to develop defensively from. His release is long, but Alfaro possesses the arm strength to shorten his throwing motion and maintain arm strength. Alfaro’s blocking instincts also require improvement as he was late to drop on pitches in the dirt causing him to react without proper technique.

Additionally, he seemed disinterested throughout the course of the game. From failing to back up bases to stabbing at pitches, Alfaro might have been tired as the season wound down, but he only logged 74 games played due to injury. I’m willing to give Alfaro the benefit of the doubt with the hope maturity remedies this.

After a season-plus of monitoring the development of Christian Bethancourt only to see him flounder offensively, I’m a bit hesitant to full endorse any catcher whose gap between present skills and projection is so great. Top-100 lists are subjective by nature, but Alfaro at number 88 was a surprise — Especially when Red Sox Henry Owens and Rockies Trevor Story ranked in the 90′s (Owens is the tall lefty striking out Alfaro in the embedded video).

Alfaro is a 1.3 million dollar lottery ticket, but his lofty ranking makes it apparent Jonathan Mayo’s contacts within the industry are expecting the Rangers to receive a significant return on their investment.




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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.

12 Responses to “Jorge Alfaro: Surprise Top-100 Prospect”

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  1. Eric Palmer says:

    I’m always extremely wary of prospects with such a bad K/BB ratio since baseball relies so much more on skill than natural physical ability. As a Ranger fan, I’m obviously hoping he can learn better plate discipline, and being only 19, he has plenty of time to do so.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      You are right to a point. For me, it’s not so cut and dry. I’m more worried about strikeouts than walks for younger players like Alfaro. Plate discipline is a learned skills. A poor hit tool is more natural ability.

      Being so wary would have led you to miss out on Wilin Rosario.

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  2. karma187 says:

    How bout Ethan Martin at 80???????I think that’s more shocking than Alfaro in the top 100

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  3. Simon Daillie says:

    I completely agree – Alfaro at 88 does not make sense. He is clearly overrated. I bet that this has something to do with Jason Park’s anointing Alfaro with “team legend” status. I know I have no evidence for that, but that is my hunch. As to Trevor Story – yeah #99 is a joke. If he was in the NYY or NYM system he would be ranked in the top 50 easy. Mayo’s rankings are riddled with patterns of mistakes year in and year out. What Story did with the bat in 2011 and in 2012 makes him a much better prospect than Alfaro. Story simply has probably a similar ceiling relative to their position, with a much lower risk factor on that ceiling and of course a much higher floor.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      This piece wasn’t written to openly question Jonathan Mayo or his top-100 list. To be honest, I was debating whether Alfaro and Red Sox Henry Owens were even worth writing up due to being so far away. Both being ranked in MLB.com’s top-100 compelled me to do so.

      Having spoken to Jonathan about his ranking methods, I’m confident he utilizes a number of industry sources for information. As I become more involved in the industry myself, I often find their perception is wildly different than prospect followers when it comes to prospects. This may be a reason why certain rankings may seem off base.

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  4. Ervin Santana says:

    It’s pretty obvious MLB does a s***** job with their “top” prospects list. They are starting to use more sabermetrics in their analysis (except the dreadful Mitch Williams), so hopefully better prospect evaluation could be coming up.

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  5. Jake says:

    This dude sounds like the next Miguel Olivo when he was still fast

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  6. Steve says:

    Well, Alfaro was #101 on Goldstein’s list last year. Some people are more tools centered than others. No 2 top 100 lists are ever going to be the same, and that is great. Ranking Alfaro that High isn’t weird.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Alfaro was ranked 101 coming off a monster rookie league season. In 2012, Alfaro got hurt and his numbers were heavily weighted by BABIP. Not that I really care about stats at the lower levels, but Alfaro clearly had helium heading into KG’s list. He had no helium this off-season. There’s a difference.

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