Miami Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro has plenty to build on for the 2020 season. He also has a lot to work on if he wants to be a better player this year.
The player who was part of the deal that sent J.T. Realmuto to the Philadephia Phillies in exchange for Sixto Sanchez, Alfaro and Will Stewart showed plenty of promise in 2019, swatting 18 home runs and 57 RBI while playing 130 games. But given the Marlins need more power in the lineup and more consistency at the plate, more will be expected from the team’s top backstop.
Injuries also played a role in Alfaro’s performance last season. He did show an ability to work well with the team’s young rotation as a receiver.
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With a new season comes new opportunities for Alfaro, who will always be compared to the player he replaced in the Miami Marlins organization. Realmuto is regarded as one of the best all-around players in the game today. Alfaro is hoping his third season in the Majors will be his breakout year once he and his teammates are ready to set foot on the field again.
Like everyone else on the Marlins Major League roster, time will tell if the layoff from Spring Training will impact how Alfaro improves in 2020 after what appears to be a solid start to his career in South Florida. Here are three predictions for the catcher this season.
More Smash in the Bat
Alfaro improved from hitting 10 home runs in 2018 with the Phillies to smacking 18 dingers in 130 games last year. If he plays more games and takes better cuts at the plate, 25 home runs or more could be a possibility.
Working with bench coach James Rowson in camp and hitting coach Eric Duncan should pay off this season. Hre hit .262 for the season, which could also improve with better hitting around him in the lineup. Fundamentally, an improved swing could mean 25 home runs and potentially 75 RBI this coming year.
Alfaro came to camp in better shape and that could directly impact how well he swings a bat.
The one thing that was evident about Alfaro last season was his knack for suffering injuries. That didn’t mean he wasn’t durable, but he did miss time due to various ailments. Right before the stop of Spring Training games, he suffered right oblique tightness and missed time in camp. He also suffered a concussion in the last month of the season.
Catchers need to be durable. While the Marlins still have Chad Wallach and Francisco Cervelli in camp, The drop-off from the starter in Alfaro to either player is significant. I will say the combination of Alfaro and Cervelli has already paid off for the coaching staff as the two have worked well together so far this spring.
Look for Alfaro to call at least 80 percent of the games this season.
If Realmuto is the standard by which all National League catchers are judged, then maybe the student out-performs the teacher this year. And in doing that Alfaro represents the Miami Marlins as the starting catcher in the All-Star game in Los Angeles.
To do that, Alfaro will have to come out and play better immediately. He will need to play better defensively and work with his pitchers to help them remain consistent on the mound. In other words, play a well-rounded game.
Alfaro is also pretty fast on the bases. While moving him toward the top of the lineup isn’t a consideration. When he gets on base, he must make the most of his chances to either score or move runners around.