Miami Marlins Season Preview: Catcher Jorge Alfaro

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Miami Marlins throws to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at Oracle Park on September 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. The Miami Marlins defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Miami Marlins throws to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at Oracle Park on September 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. The Miami Marlins defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
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The Miami Marlins have a full 40-man roster plus another 25 entering Spring Training in 2020.

Of those 65 players, 35 have had some measure of major league exposure. Seven of the players in camp are regarded as catchers. Jorge Alfaro sits atop of that pecking order, and is considered the Miami Marlins starter.

A six-foot-two, 225 lb. right-hander from Sincelejo, Columbia, Alfaro will be turning 27 in the middle of this season. Never drafted, Alfaro made his professional debut while still just 17 years old in the Dominican Summer League for the DSL Rangers. After five seasons working his way up through their system, at the 2015 trade deadline, the Rangers traded Alfaro with Matt Harrison, Nick Williams, Jake Thompson, Alec Asher, and Jerad Eickhoff to the Philadelphia Phillies for Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman.

Already at the Double-A level at the time of the trade, Alfaro remained at the same level to begin 2016, and also made his major league debut that season with the Phillies, going two-for-16 in six appearances. He got a more substantial look for them in 2017, slashing .318/.360/.514 in a 29 game sample.

Miami Marlins
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 27: Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Miami Marlins. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Alfaro’s first full major league season came in 2018 while still with the Phillies. In 108 games, he slashed .262/.324/.407 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI. He also racked up a 36.6 percent whiff rate, missing 138 times in only 377 plate appearances.

Alfaro joined the Miami Marlins prior to the 2019 season with Will Stewart and top prospect Sixto Sanchez for J.T. Realmuto. He did fix his strikeout rate slightly, lowering it to 33.1 percent in 465 PA. In 130 games, Alfaro hit 18 home runs and collected 57 RBI, hitting .262/.312/.425.

Alfaro was better against left-handed pitchers, holding up an .813 OPS to a mark of just .710 against righties. Still, .710 is hardly embarrassing, built on a .254 batting average. His strikeout rate against both-handed pitchers is roughly even.

According to Statcast, Alfaro’s 90.8 MPH average exit velocity ranked 47th in MLB, and his 28.8 ft/s sprint speed was 65th fastest in the majors, and notably faster than Realmuto. At 1.95 seconds, Alfaro’s pop time was the sixth best mark in the major leagues.

Alfaro’s 2020 projections (THE BAT, ATC, Steamer, Depth Charts) all have him between 105 and 122 games played, with between 13 and 17 homers and from 48 to 52 RBI. They all agree he’s going to walk in five percent of plate appearances and will strikeout about 33 percent of the time. Oddly, three out of the four systems peg Alfaro with a .294 OBP. It would be remarkable if he finished there right on the nose. Notably, ATC predicts a mark of .305.

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Defensively, Alfaro threw out 33 percent of baserunners for the Miami Marlins in 2019, seven percent better than the National League average. In 973 innings of work behind the plate, he graded out as a slightly below average fielder, at minus-5 DRS/1200.

Backing up Alfaro is soon-to-be-34 Francisco Cervelli, with Chad Wallach also listed on the 40-man roster, hopefully now completely recovered from post-concussion symptoms suffered in May of last season.

Alfaro’s first three seasons have seen him average exactly 1.0 WAR, and he’s a safe bet to finish 2020 near the same output. Look for Alfaro to easily retain his position behind the plate for likely the next two seasons and maybe more depending on up-and-comers Will Banfield and Nick Fortes. Check back tomorrow for a look at Brian Anderson.

Next. Sandy Alcantara Season Preview. dark

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