Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #9 Catcher Jorge Alfaro

Alfaro, image- USA Today

Acquired as part of the the return for Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman from Texas last summer, catcher Jorge Alfaro quickly became one of the Phillies' most promising young talents. With a powerful bat and outstanding skills behind the dish, Alfaro could become a fast moving performer for his new organization.

Originally signed by the Rangers for a reported $1.3 million in 2010 at the age of 16, the Colombia native would make his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League that same year. In 48 games, the righty hitting Alfaro posted a .221 average and a home run along with 23 RBI.

The following year, with Class A short-season Spokane, the talented youngster tallied a .300 average with six homers and 23 RBI.

In 2012 with full season Class A level Hickory, he batted .261 with five home runs, 34 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 74 contests.

A repeat campaign with Hickory was in order the following year, although he played a handful of games for Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. In 113 combined games, Alfaro put together a .265/.346/.463 slash line, also swiping 18 bags. He'd also spend most of his 2014 with Myrtle Beach, earning a promotion to Double-A Frisco for the closing month of the season. In 121 total games, Alfaro batted .261 with 17 homers and 87 RBI.

Last season, Alfaro opened his campaign with Double-A Frisco, but missed considerable time with a broken ankle that required surgery in June. In 49 games, he hit .253 with five home runs and 21 RBI.

After joining the Phillies organization, Alfaro played in three rehab games with the rookie level Gulf Coast League team and took part in the Florida Instructional League following the regular season.

Further proving his health this off-season, the six-foot-two 225-pounder posted a .262 average with a homer and three RBI in 13 games with La Guaira in Venezuelan Winter League.

The 22-year-old features plus bat speed and a smooth swing. He strikes out quite a bit, but with an ability to drive the ball to all fields, as Alfaro progresses, watch out for his developing power, which could propel him quickly toward the big leagues. The Phils will want to see him take more pitches and build better pitch recognition abilities this year.

Despite a pair of double-digit steal seasons to his credit, it doesn't appear that speed will be a major part of Alfaro's offensive game, as he has stolen just eight bases in 14 tries over the past two seasons, as he's reached higher levels.

On defense, Alfaro is a terrific backstop. He sports a plus arm and good footwork. He's very athletic and could stick at the position at the upper levels of the sport.

Phillies mainstay and former All-Star Carlos Ruiz has a career that is winding down. Cameron Rupp's .233 average last year may not be suitable to succeed him. With a spot needing to be filled at the big league level soon, Alfaro definitely looks like a contender to take on that challenge down the line. Look for him to open the 2016 season guiding the Double-A Reading pitching staff.

Follow this year's full prospect countdown by clicking this link.

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