As you know if you've been reading the site the last couple of weeks, I am offering capsule scouting reports of the players who made our top 25 in the Community Prospect Rankings.
As always, I offer these write-ups with the caveat that I'm not a scout, haven't seen these players, and am simply summarizing the information that is out there about them.
With that, after the jump is the write-up on the #6 player on the LSB Community Prospect Rankings, Jorge Alfaro...
Alfaro is a 6'2", 185 lb. catcher, a righthanded hitter who won't turn 19 until June, 2012. Signed in January, 2010, out of Colombia as a 16 year old, and commanding a $1.3 million signing bonus, Alfaro is a player who gives you a lot to dream about, but who is so raw and so far away that it is hard to get a good handle on where exactly he should go in the community rankings.
Alfaro played in the Dominican Summer League in 2010 as a 16 year old and struggled with the bat, putting up a .221/.278/.291 line in 187 plate appearances. Despite this, he was brought over to the United States for the 2011 season and played in the Northwest League, largely populated by players three to four years older than Alfaro. Nevertheless, he held his own, putting up a .300/.345/.481 line in 171 plate appearances.
Alfaro checked in at #8 in Baseball America's Northwest League Top 20 Rankings, getting praise for his power, soft hands, and big arm, but getting downgraded for being overly aggressive. The over-aggressiveness also shows up when taking a closer look at his 2011 numbers...Alfaro struck out 54 times in 171 plate appearances, while walking just 4 times, after striking out 48 times and walking 5 times in 2010. While Alfaro is young and raw, and was playing in a league that was above his head, that sort of lack of plate discipline is a big red flag. While the .345 OBP is respectable, it was fueled by a .420 BABIP and more HBPs than walks. Alfaro is going to have to significantly improve his K/BB ratio as he moves up the ladder if he's going to have major league success.
Enthusiasm about Alfaro is largely driven by his impressive power potential and his big arm. In 2010, Jason Parks projected Alfaro as eventually developing 70 grade power and a 75 grade arm. If those two tools do develop that much, and if his hit tool progresses, Alfaro could be an All Star, particularly given the positive reviews he has gotten for his work ethic and desire.
As far as the future goes for Alfaro, he will likely spend the 2012 season in Hickory, continuing to refine his skills behind the plate and work on translating his offensive potential into results. As far as the major league club goes, if things break right for Alfaro, he could be competing for a major league starting catcher job by 2015 or 2016.
What sort of ceiling does Alfaro have? I put Pudge up there in the photo, and I'm sure there will be comps between the two because Alfaro is coming up through the Ranger system, and like Pudge, he has a big arm and doesn't walk, but Pudge probably isn't a real good comp. Pudge is only 5'9", stockier than Alfaro, and had less raw power and more of the hand-eye coordination necessary to hit for average while swinging at everything.
Given the skill set Alfaro is exhibiting now -- big arm, big power, athletic, the type of catcher who should block the plate well and give you good defense, but who isn't going to walk a lot or hit for average, lots of Ks -- Lance Parrish is the comp that comes to mind for me. Parrish was an eight time All Star, six time Silver Slugger winner, three time Gold Glove winner. His 324 career home runs tie him with Gary Carter for fifth most by a player who got at least 80% of his playing time behind the plate, and his 35.7 bWAR is 18th all time in that same group, between Roy Campanella and Jim Sundberg.
A Lance Parrish-type career for Alfaro would be a home run for the Rangers' scouting and minor league system, a very successful career. Just keep in mind...Alfaro has miles to go before he can get there.