Keith Law has a piece up this morning on ESPN.com (insider required) where he writes about Rangers' top prospect Jorge Alfaro, and the recent California/Carolina League All Star Game, among other things. In the article, beneath a large photo of Alfaro, reads:
Rangers prospect Jorge Alfaro was the best player in the California-Carolina leagues All-Star game.
Simple enough, right?
It shouldn't be a real surprise; scouts have long drooled over Alfaro's rare blend of tools for a catching prospect, which include (but are not limited to) an 80-grade throwing arm, plus speed on the bases and plus raw power at the plate. In a shade over 400 plate appearances in 2013, he had as many HRs as he did stolen bases (16). Jorge Alfaro is a catcher.
If scouts were to make an all-tools Minor League All Star team, Alfaro would be in the starting lineup without a doubt.
He's still only 21 (as of June 11th), so I'll say the same thing about Jorge that I would Joey Gallo, or Luke Jackson, or Rougned Odor or Luis Sardinas: He's not a finished prospect. There are holes in his game. It's a natural part of the prospect progression to improve on those gaps. Alfaro -- like Gallo -- has a chance of reaching a super-star ceiling at the major league level, so it behooves the Rangers to take their time with him.
One of the gaps in Jorge's game is his plate discipline. It isn't very good, and it's never been very good. Over the last two years, he owns a walk rate of around 6.0% and a strikeout rate around 25%. Overall, though, he's been productive in his age-20 and 21 seasons:
2013 (Low-A) -- .258/.338/.452 (128 wRC+), 16 HRs, 16 SBs
2014 (High-A) -- .265/.321/.438 (113 wRC+), 8 HRs, 4 SBs
Again, Jorge Alfaro is young. He also plays catcher, so his offense matters much less than if he was, say, a corner infielder like Joey Gallo. If Alfaro's defense steadily improves, he'll be enough of an upgrade to see time in the big leagues by the end of 2015, and is the odds-on favorite to start Opening Day 2016. That gives the Rangers almost two years to continue working with him, and for Alfaro to shore up his free-swinging style at the plate.
With the downward trajectory of the Rangers' 2014 season, it's a good time to focus on what the club has coming up on the farm, and Jorge Alfaro is one of the dudes to pay attention to.