For Phillies catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, his skills on the field are what have earned him consideration as one of the team’s most promising prospects, but his killer instinct and aggressive style of play are what fans will come to find as the most endearing things about him.
When he went 3-for-3 in last week’s Eastern League All-Star Game, the 23-year-old Colombian did so with a unique approach. While many players on the diamond that night were going through the motions or taking it easy, Alfaro tackled the exhibition contest with a different approach. He looked at that game with the same mentality that he goes about during the season.
To Alfaro, if a game is on the schedule, it’s meant to be won.
“It’s another game and I know it’s an All-Star Game, but I didn’t try to do too much, I just tried to calm down a little bit and play like it’s any other game, like I have to win,” Alfaro said. “I never like to lose, so I just try to win all the time and if (a 3-for-3 game) comes with that, then I’ll take it.”
Despite missing three weeks of action earlier this season with an oblique strain, the right-handed batter ranks 20th in the EL with 132 total bases and sits 8th in the league with a .296 batting average while he has slammed 11 home runs and driven in 48 runs in 66 games.
Behind the dish, the backstop sports a superior ability to defend against base stealers, gunning down runners at a 43% rate.
According to Alfaro’s manager with Double-A Reading, former catcher Dusty Wathan, Alfaro has improved greatly in just a few months under his watch this year.
“He’s come a long way since the first time I saw him in spring training,” Wathan stated. “I didn’t get to see him last year. And he’s worked very hard at what he’s doing and he’s getting better every day.
“I think he’s (near) the top of the league in hitting, he’s at the top of the league in throwing percentage, he’s received well this year. He’s gotten better at that. His balance has gotten better. Definitely, I mean he’s at a valuable position and he’s doing a good job at it.”
Alfaro was, of course, one of the key prospects the Phils obtained when they sent ace pitcher Cole Hamels to Texas last summer. He was originally signed as an amateur free agent in 2010 at the age of 16.
This season, Alfaro, who sports a .767 career OPS in the minors, has helped the Fightin Phils to a 66-31 record, which is best in all of professional baseball.
At the time he was acquired by the Phillies, Alfaro was on the disabled list after undergoing ankle surgery and he later missed time in the Florida Instructional League, a month-long off-season exhibition league, with a hamstring strain.
Considering the handful of injuries he’s dealt with over the past year paired with his all-out style of play, some may wonder if Alfaro should take his foot off the gas, so to speak, on the playing field. The six-foot-two 225-pounder can’t fathom playing the game he loves any differently.
“I mean I never think about that. I just go out there and play hard. I never think about getting hurt,” Alfaro asserted with a stern expression. “I’m never going to stop playing how I play. I just go out there and it’s like a mission, you know? Like a war. I go out there and try to win all the time and I mean that’s the way I play and I think I’m never going to change that.”
Once Alfaro gets the chance to go to battle for the city of Philadelphia and continues those winning ways, no one there will ever want him to change.