2016 Phillies Report Card: Jorge Alfaro

In 2016, perhaps no one in the Phils minor league system bolstered their claim to national rankings as much as Jorge Alfaro. Crawford, Williams, Thompson and Kilome, among others, all had at least some struggles, or at best maintained the outlook national evaluators will put on their game. Dylan Cozens and Rhys Hoskins certainly put people on notice at AA, as did some low level arms, particularly Adonis Medina. Alfaro, on the other hand, grew into his already-high ceiling, with reportedly improved defense and steady offense. His minor league season on the whole, and the reports about his progress lead me to believe he is closer to becoming a star than any Phillie under 25 not named J.P. Crawford.

The Columbian born 23 year-old was added to the Phils 40-man roster late in 2015, and did make his big league debut in 2016, though who knows if the club would have used Andrew Knapp instead if the roster situations were different – Knapp was not on the 40-man this year. Alfaro had 2 hits in 17 MLB PAs, with 8 Ks to 1 (intentional) walk. No way to judge that.

The pre-season scouting report on Alfaro showed us power, good speed for a catcher that should play in the outfield, a hit tool that’s got promise but suffers from a good bit of swing and miss, and defense that needs work, but includes a near-elite arm. His power has been shown in the pro ranks – he hit 18 pro home runs in 2013 and 17 more in 2014, but had a well-documented ankle injury in 2015 that slowed his pace to just 5. And hitting 15 bombs in 2016, even in a hitter’s environment such as Reading, shows that the power is continuing to play against better and better pitching. 105 strikeouts and 22 walks are red flags over just about 425 PAs, but he managed to hit for a bit of average at .285, which kept his .325 OBP from looking worse than it should on a guy with a ~5% walk rate. In the end, his pop helped him to a .783 OPS.

But his defense is the key, as it has been for years now, and reports on his blocking and mobility seemed to be consistently good throughout the year. I have been a bit of a sucker for catchers in the past, (wait until I write up Cameron Rupp later this month), and so seeing reports that hedge towards a guy figuring it out behind the plate are about all I need to get all revved up about a decent hitting backstop.

I’ll Grade the season an A-. Could have seen a little more from him at the plate, for sure, but I’m satisfied.

I was planning to finish up this report card late last night, but something was distracting me. Those who follow me on Twitter know my political affiliations, and can guess what I would think of the outcome of our Presidential election, if they haven’t already seen me express it. So let me just say a bit about Donald Trump’s campaign and election and baseball, as it pertains to Jorge Alfaro and so many more players throughout the major and minor leagues:

Players from Latin American and Caribbean nations are represented in significant numbers throughout affiliated pro ball. Most of them have people working on their behalf to secure their international status from a very early age, mainly via work visas. Those players’ kin can assume no such privilege, and among that group, there are likely to be a fair number of undocumented workers living in this country. Our national pastime’s Latin American players have got to be more worried today about their families, their friends, their former teammates and coaches, than they were on Tuesday morning. I feel for them and wish them well, and I hope and pray that the anti-immigrant vitriol that has been codified by this election result does not come to cause personal harm to any of them or any of those they care about as deeply as we do about members of our own families.

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  1. Epicurean

    November 09, 2016 08:01 PM

    Nicely put. Thanks for engaging in an important discussion regarding anti-immigrant racism and baseball.

    • Rei de Bastoni

      November 10, 2016 10:27 AM

      You guys do realize there is a difference between immigrants who come to the country legally, such as the vast majority of LA baseball players, and those who come here illegally, right?

      • Brad Engler

        November 10, 2016 03:07 PM

        I’m worried about those humans that are here illegally being beaten up and I feel like it’s an undue burden being placed on ballplayers with loved ones in that situation. Is that not legitimate?

      • Rei de Bastoni

        November 10, 2016 04:08 PM


        Is this something that happens a lot? More often than illegals commit crimes themselves? We’re free to fear things that are pretty unlikely, like plane crashes, but that doesn’t make them legitimate. If you say they happen often, I welcome you to link me to some statistics.

      • Rei De Bastoni

        November 11, 2016 11:34 PM

        Yes, it is easier to down-vote 7 times than come up with a counter argument.

      • Steve

        November 12, 2016 06:03 AM

        Rei, judging from your family name I would assume your family came over in some great mass immigration from Italy that by today’s standards would be deemed illegal. Remember these are the people who empty your trash basket in the shitty little cubicle or clean your trump stain off the toilet bowl. You’re a sanctimonious shit to think that these people are here for any other reason than to take advantage of a better life just like your forefathers.

      • Rei De Bastoni

        November 12, 2016 03:39 PM


        Please quote where I made any reference to why they’ve come here, or how there should be no LEGAL immigrants.

        You and I are in complete agreement that they came over to make their lives better, and that there should be LEGAL immigration.

        And I’ll remind you how the argument stands at the moment:

        Brad asserted that illegals fear for getting beat up, and that LA ballplayers are worried that their families are in the same situation.
        I said that:
        1. the ballplayers are not illegal
        2. nor are their families
        3. illegals are more likely to do the beating up rather than receiving the beating
        4. therefore, their worries, however genuine they may be, are unfounded

        Please argue by number.

        And my family waited to come over while it was legal, was properly vetted for disease and everything else, and swore allegiance to this country and none other. BUT, that has nothing to do with the conversation thread, nor the article itself.

  2. Ryan

    November 10, 2016 09:59 AM

    It’s only a problem if they’re illegal. You grossly mischaracterize it by forgetting that word when you say anti-immigrant. It’s anti ILLEGAL immigrant.

    • Brad Engler

      November 10, 2016 02:59 PM

      What would you do for your starving family? What about to get away from a drug war? Would you cross a border for work? I guess you wouldn’t. The line for sainthood starts behind the man without sin.

    • judas_priest

      November 10, 2016 03:23 PM

      Undoubtedly the official policy is anti-illegal immigrant rather than anti immigrant, but when the matter becomes heated many people assume that those who are clearly foreign are illegal. There have been numerous instances of harassment of legal immigrants. Even those who are in this country without legal authority have certain due process rights – the ignoring of which rights is not rare.

      Regardless of the legal niceties, the situation does tend to produce anxiety among some of those who are here legally.

      • Rei de Bastoni

        November 10, 2016 04:21 PM

        Whether innocent people get dragged into things in which they’re not guilty doesn’t stop the act itself from being a crime.

        The mainstream stopped calling them illegal and instead “undocumented” was to distance from the fact that they ARE committing a crime.

        We have a lot of legal immigrants, many recent, from places like South America, Mexico, Africa, India, and China, and yet they seem to have figured out how to get here. I cut Cuba some slack since they aren’t allowed to emigrate, but Mexicans have no excuse.

      • Romus

        November 10, 2016 05:24 PM

        Seems words and meanings have changed for more emphasis.
        I believe it was originally ‘illegal alien’ (unlawful -from a foreign country or nation)
        Then the verbiage transferred to ‘illegal immigrant”…which unto itself is an oxy-moron.
        Immigrant means of legal status permanently entered into another country to take residence……and we know what illegal means.
        Now ‘undocumented’ has been introduced.
        Wow..all these changes,
        I wonder what Lt Ripley would have called them in 1979 with today’s voc…..”Undocumenters”?

  3. Epicurean

    November 10, 2016 10:45 AM

    Yes we do. Thanks.

  4. Whitey

    November 10, 2016 12:27 PM

    Way to ruin the post with politics.

    • Brad Engler

      November 10, 2016 03:02 PM

      Thanks for reading!!! :):):)

    • Brian

      November 10, 2016 07:32 PM

      I think you can disagree with the political sentiment while acknowledging that the election has produced anxiety within many members of the Latin American immigrant community, which makes up a large percentage of the MLB population. You may argue that their anxiety is unwarranted, but not genuine. It is totally relevant to discuss what, if any, impact it will have on these players.

  5. Jonathan Roman

    November 18, 2016 02:09 PM

    Brad – thank you for your thoughts at the end. While we can all agree to disagree on politics, there is no doubt that the the tone of the election was scary. However we decide to handle the issue of illegal immigration and those who are here illegally, it reflects more on us as Americans than it does on the people who are it issue. While I can’t offer anyone statistics, my common sense tells me that the proportion of of “good” and “bad” people that lie within the group of illegal immigrants is no different than any other group within our country, and if that is true, the vast majority of them have simply come here seeking a better life. Many of us have families (like my own) that came to the US a long time ago, when immigration policies were more welcoming. Such is not the case now, and people who come here illegally, or become illegal by overstaying their visa, are doing what they deem necessary to better their families, and my guess is many of our families would make the same choice today, if we were in their shoes. All of that to say, is that these people are human beings, and for the most part simply trying to do the best for their families, the same as us. As Americans we have an opportunity to deal with the situation in a humane and decent way. That has always been our aspiration, and our guiding light. The reports of hate crimes has risen considerably in recent days, and that is no coincidence. I will never forget the tone set by Rudy Guiliani and President Bush in the days after 9/11. They were both examples of the greatness and tolerance of America. Our new President could learn a thing or two from the example they set.

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