July 7, 2023: This article was originally published on January 17, 2023. It has since been edited, much the way the Red Sox front office edited their earlier decision to let Alfaro go.
Who is he and where did he come from?
He’s Jorge Alfaro, possessor of a 70-grade arm to go with 80-grade hair, and the Red Sox signed him on a dirt-cheap minor league deal, released him after he spent two months in Worcester off the 40-man roster. . . then signed him to an MLB deal a few weeks later! He spent the previous season out in San Diego, splitting his career between the Phillies and Marlins before that.
What position does he play?
He’s a right-handed hitting catcher.
Is he any good?
He’s actually really good at some things! And, unfortunately, he’s also really bad at others.
Let’s begin with the defense. For starters, Alfaro has an absolutely elite arm. He averaged over 88 MPH on his throws to second last year, making him the second-hardest throwing catcher in all of baseball, with a 96th percentile pop time (pop time measured as the amount of time in between a pitch hitting the catcher’s mitt and the ball then subsequently arriving at the center of the second base bag.) He’s also surprisingly quick and athletic for a big guy (he stole 8 bases while being caught just once in 2021), which allows him to make plays like this:
In terms of receiving, though, he’s nothing special. His framing is no better than league average at best, and he’s led the league in passed balls three different times over the course of his seven-year career (this includes last season, when his seven passed balls were the most in all of baseball, despite the fact that he started just 59 games behind home plate).
Offensively, he hits the ball really, really hard. Unfortunately, he doesn’t hit the ball all that often. Amongst hitters with at least 250 plate appearances last season, Alfaro had the 7th highest strikeout rate in all of baseball, at 35.8%. Sorry if what you’re about to read triggers some PTSD, but that was actually worse than both Bobby Dalbec and Franchy Cordero. Despite the strikeouts, though, he’s a pretty decent bat against lefties, putting up a .732 OPS against them over the course of his career, making him an intriguing platoon option.
His combination of tools and flair turned him into a cult hero last season in San Diego. After a number of walk-off hits early in the season, he even got a mural:
There’s a new #Padres mural up in Chula Vista, of @_JorgeAlfaro11 and his now infamous slogan It’s on Third Ave., same street as the Machado mural, behind Bar Sin Nombre and Three Punk Ales. (The “tape” is done by the artists, and painted over the second word.) pic.twitter.com/qy3p7eiTlQ— Annie Heilbrunn (@annieheilbrunn) June 24, 2022
What’s he doing in his picture up there?
Doing whatever he can to cool down because, as everyone agrees, it’s just too damn hot in San Diego and Boston has much more hospitable weather.
Show me a cool highlight
Here he is pimping the shit out of a bomb he hit in the Dominican winter league last week. If this guy makes it to Boston, something tells me he’s going to be a fan-favorite.
free agent C Jorge Alfaro has been incredible in the LIDOM Round Robin playoffs (.375/.470/.589) and a huge reason why Tigres del Licey are one win away from the championship series. he had a walk-off RBI single on Sunday, huge HR last night in a blowout: pic.twitter.com/bBlCgW8QGo— Céspedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) January 10, 2023
What’s his role on the 2023 Red Sox?
Despite the fact that he was signed to a minor league deal, there’s actually a pretty decent chance he starts the year on the big league roster as Reese McGuire’s platoon partner against left-handed pitchers. Connor Wong still has minor league options, and it’s quite possible that, if Alfaro outplays him in Spring Training, the Sox will send Wong back to Worcester for more seasoning and give Alfaro a chance to show off his power arm and power bat in Fenway.
As of July 6, 2023, he’s your new backup catcher! This probably means that Reese McGuire is going to miss more time than they originally hoped.