Philadelphia Phillies: Option Years Halting Prospect Jorge Alfaro Call-Up

Philadelphia Phillies catching prospect Jorge Alfaro has played well enough to earn a call up to the big leagues. The business of baseball will prevent it from happening quickly as the 23-year-old catcher is in his final option year.

As Todd Zolecki of MLB.com explains, the Phillies want to be sure about Jorge Alfaro before the promotion. Next year, they cannot send him to the minor leagues without the risk of losing him through waivers.

Many Phillies fans are ready for the army of prospects to crack the big league roster. They have already begun to leak in recent weeks with Ben Lively and Nick Pivetta each earning promotions. Alfaro looks like the obvious choice to join them next. Unfortunately, because the Phillies are handcuffed next season, Alfaro may have to continue dominating in Triple-A.

Through 16 games, Alfaro has slashed .354/.373/.569. He has three home runs and 10 RBI to make these numbers look even better.

The Phillies are hopeful of Alfaro’s big league abilities. While others in the Cole Hamels trade have not worked out too well, Alfaro is right on track to become a notable big league catcher. The expectation is that he takes over the starting catcher job by 2018.

Alfaro’s hot bat is especially good for the Phillies as several other notable prospects are struggling early. Teammate J.P. Crawford is hitting just .108 through his first 74 plate appearances. Dylan Cozens has also looked very bad with a .118 batting average.

On the plus side, first baseman Rhys Hoskins continues to hit with power and for average. He already has six home runs this season. Outfielder Nick Williams, who came over with Alfaro from the Texas Rangers organization, is also hitting well. By next season, several of the players involved in the Hamels trade could have a starting role with the Phillies.

Meanwhile, big league catcher Cameron Rupp has taken a few steps backwards after a productive 2016 campaign. He was never truly a consideration for the long-term catcher job. The moment Alfaro is declared MLB-ready, Rupp will either step aside to become a backup or become a trade chip the Phillies can move for some peanuts.

The current backup catcher, Andrew Knapp, has also not hit well this season. Knapp was once a consideration for the starting catcher job in Philadelphia. The moment they acquired Alfaro, this changed. Now, the Phillies have eyes for only one backstop.

Alfaro will eventually see his time in the big leagues arrive. He only got a whiff last season in Philadelphia, but not enough to really judge him favorably. He was just 2-for-16 with a strikeout in half of his at-bats following the September call-up. The next time around, the Phillies will expect a whole lot more.

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