Jorge Alfaro, the Miami Marlins starting catcher, is faster than Christian Yelich. Hard to believe, but true. He is also the fastest catcher in MLB. Alfaro posted a 28.8 feet per second sprint speed surpassing Yelich and Realmuto who both posted a 28.7 time. That speed hasn’t translated yet into bags. Alfaro had just 4 SB last season. Still, it’s not the zero you get from most catchers.
A February 13 story by @JoeFrisaro on MLB’s site about Alfaro is intriguing. it suggested Alfaro will be faster n 2020. Trim Alfaro could be even faster this season The story had some other reasons to be optimistic about Alfaro’s 2020 season, including the fact he allegedly packed on muscle and lost 15 pounds. If my math is right, Alfaro is now 6’2, 210. I usually don’t put a lot of stock in such stories when ranking players and consider them basically noise. But it is interesting.
Here is an image of Alfaro’s 2019 Statcast page. Note the very fine scores for average exit velocity, hard hit percentage, and barrel rate. These are all useful metrics for predicting a player’s future power statistics like home runs or WOBA.
Alfaro’s first flaw is his 33.1% strikeout rate. His second is a lower than normal launch angle of 4.7 degrees. Even though Alfaro hits the ball very hard, he does not elevate it and that suppresses his power. His launch angle actually decreased 50% from his 2017 and 2018 seasons. Alfaro has some work to do, which is why I was able to grab him in round 15 at pick 217 of my current 15-team Draft Champions league.
I’m probably a bit optimistic here with my pick 217. Alfaro’s average ADP is 227 so this was slightly ahead of where he normally goes in these DC drafts. I took him over Carson Kelly, who is another very interesting young catcher.
In the shortened 2020 season, plate appearances are an important currency. That was why I took Alfaro over Carson, who I think is often going to be platooned with Stephen Vogt for the Diamondbacks.
Alfaro had 465 plate appearances last season for the Marlins. That puts Alfaro at 6th among catchers for 2019 plate appearances, just ahead of Yadier Molina and Buster Posey. As noted on the statcast report embedded above, his pop time for throws to second base is near elite. His defense should keep him in the game. The Marlins actually traded JT Realmuto for Alfaro and several other prospects. So his organization loves him. Alfaro is expected to bat 6th for the Marlins per Roster Resource, which isn’t a terrible spot in the order for a catcher.
Alfaro has a prospect pedigree. He signed with Texas in 2010 for $1.3M as a 16-year old Columbian. In 2013, he was ranked by Baseball America as the 54th best baseball prospect. I love that Alfaro, even after signing a $500,000 one year contract with Miami, went back to Columbia this winter and worked on his father’s farm in Columbia. That’s loyalty and shows character. This all adds up to a potentially untapped upside for Alfaro. That’s where I live, if possible, getting upside catchers with cool stories late in a DC.