No stranger to expectations, Alfaro settling in

New Marlins catcher was once top prospect, part of high-profile trade

February 16th, 2019

JUPITER, Fla. -- High expectations are nothing new to , nor are they something the Marlins' 25-year-old catcher is particularly concerned about.
Alfaro's immediate focus is settling in with his new club, learning a new pitching staff and making his own mark with a new team.
Acquired along with pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez, Will Stewart and $250,000 in international bonus pool money from the Phillies for earlier this month, Alfaro's personal goal is improvement.
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"I've been working on being the best catcher I can be, with no pressure," Alfaro said on Saturday. "I don't try to put too much pressure on myself. I try to enjoy my time and enjoy this game I've been playing for a long time. It was my dream to come to the big leagues, and I'm here. And now, I don't want to really think about what people say. I know how hard it is to get here."
Being part of a high-profile trade naturally raises expectations. That, plus the fact that throughout his professional career, Alfaro has always been a touted player.
In 2017, the native of Colombia ranked 62nd on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list. Even before then, Alfaro was a known commodity in the industry, signing with the Rangers for $1.3 million in '10.
In 2015, Alfaro also was a centerpiece in another major trade, going to the Phillies in the deal.
Realmuto is considered the most athletic catcher in the Majors, and he boasts the quickest pop time on throws to second base. According to Statcast™, he averaged 1.90 seconds. Alfaro ranked third, at 1.94 seconds.

But in terms of arm strength, Alfaro topped all catchers in 2018 with a 90.8 mph average on his throws to second, with Realmuto second at 87.8 mph.
The Marlins aren't looking for Alfaro to be the next Realmuto. They are looking for him to be himself.
"We're going to try to help each and every guy to just become the best version of themselves," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Jorge is part of that. Obviously, we like him a lot."
Alfaro played in 108 games in 2018, his first full season in the big leagues, and he hit .262/.324/.407 with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs.
"Jorge has been great," catcher said. "It's been an easier transition because it's in the division. Everybody knows him. We've all played against him, so everybody at least has an idea of who he is, and what he's capable of. He definitely comes in here with a tremendous amount of respect, and he's a great guy. It's great to have him aboard."
Based on MLB service time, the Marlins have five years of control on Alfaro, so they have plenty of time to help in his development.
One area that Alfaro already excels in is framing pitches.

According to the Statcast™ metric of getting strikes called for pitches on the borders -- or edges -- Alfaro ranked 11th (50.6 percent) among catchers who received a minimum of 1,500 pitches. topped the Majors at 54.9 percent, and Realmuto was credited for 48.3 percent.
"Obviously, it's become an emphasis throughout baseball," Mattingly said of framing. "It's a trend that's been coming. We have a better way to measure it now, and it shows that guys actually get pitches. And there are guys, the better they are at it, the more strikes they get. It's important for your pitcher, it's important for everything you do."