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July 19, 2013

BP Unfiltered

Looking Back at Jorge Alfaro

by Jason Parks

The Rangers signed the Colombian catcher in January 2010 for a cool $1.3M, and the 16-year-old soon found himself at the stateside complex, where I was able to put eyes on the player for the first time. I documented the experience in a notebook, and after camp, I put that notebook on a shelf where it has lived for the past three years. I just stumbled upon it, so please allow me to reproduce the notes as they appear in the book, documenting the first time I ever put pen to paper on Jorge Alfaro, and then let’s see what has changed during the developmental process.

(03/12/2010); Rangers complex; Surprise, AZ; backfields)
Jorge Alfaro: body looks soft; baby fat up top; legs look muscular; walking around like a deer in headlights; not as tall as I thought; was told 6’2’’; looks more like 6 even; very strong in the cage; you can see serious power here; I don’t like the swing because its so torque heavy and violent; hitting balls to the base of the wall in right-center; appears to be power spot for him; I really like the way he extends through the ball; high elbow in load; swing looks long; big front foot pickup; can he get it down in time against live pitching?; this power could be a 7 at the end of the day; really blows the hips open to bring the bat through; Rangers personnel on the field look giddy; very loud off the bat; raw behind the plate; feet look slow; looks like a below average runner at present; can’t see him getting much better with the run; footwork has a very long way to go; arm is a rocket launcher; easy plus-plus; maybe more; impact arm strength; pop time around 2.0; no shit arm; big tools for a 16-year-old kid.

(03/16/2010); Rangers complex; Surprise, AZ; backfields)
Sim action looks at Alfaro; struggling against curveball; able to rip fastballs; high front foot and extreme hip rotation; swings very hard; might have best raw power I’ve seen out of a 16-year-old.

(03/17/2010); Rangers complex; Surprise, AZ; backfields)
Alfaro into the game in the fourth inning; popped 2.25 on bad ball; overthrow to 2B; tried to back pick guy off 2B and threw the ball into CF; playing very fast; tried to kill first pitch he saw; three wild swings; saw breakdown of swing mechanics; first real backfield game for Alfaro; faced nasty stuff; mostly secondary stuff; never touched the ball with the bat; cool to see his first “real” game; getting beat up behind the plate; forced to catch Geuris Grullon; hasn’t thrown a strike yet; everything is wild; Alfaro dealing with a horrible battery-mate in first game; one out; three walks; one HBP; two hits; four wild pitches.

(03/20/2010); Rangers complex; Surprise, AZ; backfields)
Trying to catch up to game speed and looking overwhelmed; receiving looks sloppy; gassed; not running well; throws have been wild; swinging at everything; very loose; not looking comfortable in the box; moving feet; back foot movement; continues to be aggressive behind the plate; attempting back picks with reckless abandon; lunging at the ball at the plate; rolling over breaking stuff; not staying back on the ball. Sardinas kid (SS) is slick fielder. Love the actions. Keep watching him.

(03/23/2010); Rangers complex; Surprise, AZ; backfields)
Alfaro in game late; threw a ball into CF; no runner advance because he was on the ground; first game hit; single up the middle; squared 88 mph; facing LHP; nice swing; eyes focused on Alfaro and Sardinas; Sardinas standing out as best player on the field; best glove in the system?; Alfaro still playing very fast; lots of passed balls; wild throws; aggressive.

(03/26/2010); Rangers complex; Surprise, AZ; backfields)
Seventh inning; Alfaro hit on the hand by pitch; looks pissed; not in pain; wanted to swing; this kid is very aggressive; love the raw tools; too raw?

Fast-Forward to the Present: Alfaro’s body refined, and the baby fat I saw in 2010 has been formed into pure chisel. The speed I didn’t see has blossomed into some of the best speed at the position in the game, as Alfaro is an easy plus runner, with routine 4.1-4.2 times to first base and a very impressive second gear. The athleticism really stands out, and is more advanced than I imagined possible. The power is still very legit, but the swing is more refined and the exaggerated leg lift has been replaced by an offset open stance and a cleaner close to the ball. He is more balanced now, but still has the aggressive approach that puts him out in front of secondary stuff and limits his hit tool utility. The arm is elite, and the footwork that I questioned has improved tremendously. He has started to develop into a catcher on the field rather than a 16-year-old who was new to the position and raw in all facets of the game. The receiving still needs work as does the game calling, but he has dual-threat potential; when he turns it on, Alfaro can impact a game in all areas, with well above average catch/throw skills, plus run, and plus-plus power potential. I don’t believe he will ever hit for average or offer much in the way of secondary on-base skills, but the power should find a way to play and could put him in the middle of a lineup someday. High risk because of the positional demands and the questionable utility of the hit tool, but the impact potential is there. Role 7 future if everything clicks. Monster.

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

Related Content:  Texas Rangers,  Prospects,  Scouting,  Minor Leagues

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<< Previous Article
What Scouts Are Saying... (07/18)
<< Previous Column
BP Unfiltered: The LOL... (07/16)
Next Column >>
BP Unfiltered: A Dodge... (07/24)
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