Alfaro impresses with bat, behind the plate in win
Rangers' catching prospect goes 3-for-5 with two RBIs and one run scored
Jorge Alfaro comes to the park each day mindful that his most important task is to call a good game behind the plate.
When he executes at the dish, it's a bonus.
On Saturday, in a battle of the Arizona Fall League's top two teams, the young catcher thrived in both roles.
Alfaro, MLB.com's top Rangers' prospect, was 3-for-5 at the plate and called an impressive game behind it, as Surprise beat Mesa, 6-1, in a battle of first-place teams.
Surprise had two three-run innings, in the first and the fifth, to improve to 10-6 in the East. Mesa falls to 9-7, but still leads the West.
Mesa managed only one run on four hits against four different Surprise pitchers.
"Going into today, we knew what kind of caliber this team was, what kind of hitters this team has to offer," said Alfaro, who also drove in two runs, through a interpreter. "I refresh my mind, what I'm going to do for each hitter, what to call down for the pitcher."
Surprise strung together four one-out hits in the opening frame to take an early lead it would not relinquish. Mitch Haniger had an RBI double, while Alfaro followed with a two-run single.
That knock, and the day's performance, continued an impressive fall for Alfaro. The 20-year-old catcher is hitting .432 (16-for-37) with eight RBIs in 10 Arizona Fall League games.
The Colombian backstop has quite a bit of upside at the plate and behind it, combining a ton of strength and plus bat speed. Although his defensive ability has been considered a slight question mark in projecting his future, his bat has never been in doubt.
He's showing that now, and feeling it.
"I pretty much go in the game knowing that I'm back there calling the game. I don't put too much emphasis on my hitting," Alfaro said. "I'm trying to help the team out and trying to get the win. I also have a job behind the plate, and my thoughts during my at-bats are pretty much just -- stay comfortable and compete every game."
After an RBI double in the second by Mesa's Wes Darvill, Surprise answered with another three-spot in the fifth. Jason Rogers opened the fifth with a solo home run and Surprise again followed with four straight hits, including RBI doubles by Michael Ohlman and Brett Nichols.
Alfaro also added a single in the inning.
Miguel Pena threw four innings of one-run ball, striking out three in the start for Surprise. Tyler Cravy allowed one hit and struck out three in two innings of relief, while Shawn Armstrong fanned three in two scoreless innings.
"All I was doing throughout the game was throwing down pitches and the pitchers took it from there. Executing down in the zone, which is very key," Alfaro said. "All the credit goes to the pitchers, especially working down in the zone."