When we published my mid-season top 50 fantasy baseball prospects back in July, naturally there was some discussion in the comments section regarding the list’s more unforgivable omissions. The one that popped up the most was Cleveland Indians shortstop prospect, Francisco Lindor, but there were also folks clamoring for guys like Lucas Sims or Austin Hedges or Joc Pederson or any number of other borderline top 50-ish prospects. No one, however, asked why Jorge Alfaro wasn’t ranked, or how far off he was from cracking the list. But two months after posting that top 50, Alfaro, in my eyes, is the unforgivable omission. He’s potentially a top 25 talent, boasting a fantasy ceiling that is as good or better than any other catching prospect in the game. I’ve been slow to tout the 20-year-old, but I’m trying to make up for lost time with his very own post right here. Do take note.
Back in March, as part of my Texas Rangers minor league preview, I ranked Alfaro as the #5 fantasy prospect in the Rangers org, stating this about the young catcher: “Alfaro’s tools profile suggests a guy who could post .275 AVG and 25 or so homers, all while doing an outstanding job defensively behind the dish. The 19-year-old is already through is first year of full-season ball, and in that regard, he’s right on track developmentally. As far as translating his raw tools into production on the field, though, Alfaro has a long way to go (.261/.320/.430 in 2012 at Low-A). He’ll step up to High-A in 2013 where the Rangers hope to see an improved line.” I went on to slap a 2016 ETA on him, sticking to my tone that this is a high-impact prospect, but an extremely raw one.
Alfaro ended up returning to Low-A Hickory to begin 2013, as the Rangers decided they’d let him experience some on-paper success at the full-season level before moving him up the ladder. It didn’t take long for him to reveal that he was a far more comfortable player in 2013 than he was in 2012, hitting safely in 13 of his first 15 games. Alfaro continued to impress throughout the season, posting a line on the year at .265/.346/.463 with 18 HR and 18 SB in 113 games. The slash line and the power production weren’t especially surprising, but after stealing only 9 bases in his previous 168 professional ballgames, his 18 swipes this year were a promising development. Scouts have always placed plus grades on Alfaro’s speed, so I never doubted the wheels, but it’s tough to expect that sort of SB production from a guy who spends his days crouched behind home.
Texas waited until late in the season to bump the 20-year-old to a High-A assignment at Myrtle Beach, and around the same time, they announced that he’d also be included on their Arizona Fall League roster. In an age when catcher valuation is becoming a more exact science, shedding light on the importance of having a premium defender behind the plate, Alfaro should be considered an elite level catching prospect based on the merit of his defensive tools, alone. His potential on the offensive side of things, however, is really the only thing we’re worried about for the fantasy game. And that potential is as good as it gets from the catcher position.