Editor's Note: This is the fifth in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Patrick Schuster was the last player profiled.
If you'd told Phillies fans gathered around the fields at the Carpenter Process in Spring Training that Jorge Alfaro would be with Philadelphia by the end of the season, they probably wouldn't have been surprised. Alfaro looked impressive. Carlos Ruiz was old, and a trade candidate.
Alfaro, who was the No. 31 prospect in all of baseball at one point - he was No. 70 at the start of this season, was a safe bet to arrive in Philly. And arrive he did.
But only to play in six games.
So what did we see in such a small sample size? Well, he struck out in half (eight) of his at-bats. He went 2-for-16 with a walk and no extra base hits. Defensively, he caught the only base runner who attempted to swipe a bag on him. He didn't have any errors, allowed one passed ball and five wild pitches across five starts.
In other words, the kid was still raw, and not in a rhythm of playing every day.
His minor league numbers were impressive. The 23-year-old hit .285/.325/.458. That's a notch above his .266/.326/.437 average. He launched 15 homers, 21 doubles and two triples in just 97 games. But it was at Reading and we should all look at Reading's numbers as being slightly inflated, until proven otherwise. Far more power prospects are going to leave Reading and play like Darin Ruf in the Big Leagues than they will Ryan Howard.
That Alfaro earned a promotion says a lot about his season. It also says a bit about Andrew Knapp's season. He was, after all, in Triple-A and didn't earn a promotion.
You can somewhat fairly judge Alfaro's season based on where he is right now on many prospect lists.
MLB.com has him as the Phillies fourth best prospect, behind J.P. Crawford, first overall draft pick Mickey Moniak and Nick Williams. It has him as the 58th best prospect in baseball. Before the season, John Sickels, who had Alfaro as a B- grade prospect, saying "Extremely frustrating to watch. All-Star caliber physical tools still stand out but his feel for the game remains very unimpressive to me; he is prone to sloppy play with both bat and glove with little signs of improvement. Could still be excellent but also a considerable risk of skill washout." At the end of the year, Sickels had Alfaro ranked 72 in all of baseball, with a B rating. Lastly, at the beginning of the season, Baseball Prospectus had Alfaro ranked 8th among Phillies prospects, pointing out similar issues as Sickels had. On Nov. 10, the same BP writer had Alfaro as the second best prospect in the organization.
In other words, the people who read the tea leaves seem to have seen a lot of improvement.
Season grade: B+
Will we see him in 2017: One has to assume he'll be on the roster, even if the Phillies send him to Triple-A for some seasoning. Which, to me, begs the question, "What happens with Andrew Knapp?"