Alfaro showcases skill set in Saguaros' comeback
Rangers catcher leads charge to generate eight straight runs
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Fall League was invented for players like Jorge Alfaro.
The Rangers' top prospect clearly has the raw talent to project as a big league catcher. He's athletic, he's powerful and he's instinctive.
But -- at the age of 20 -- Alfaro and the Rangers are still trying to turn "raw talent" into "talent," which is why he's here in the AFL, honing those skills. First and foremost, Alfaro says, he's trying to get a feel of how to call a game.
"There are some pretty good hitters here, so [I'm] learning pitch sequences," Alfaro said, with pitcher Noe Ramirez serving as his translator. "The biggest thing [I'm] learning is how to call a game, getting to know each pitcher."
With Alfaro anchoring the club behind the plate, the Saguaros have earned a berth in Saturday's championship game, where they will face either Mesa or Salt River. On Tuesday, Alfaro pounded out three hits in a come-from-behind 9-7 victory over Scottsdale, which kept Surprise atop the race for the Fall League's best record.
All of Alfaro's tools were on full display, too. In the fifth inning, he chopped an RBI double over the third-base bag and hustled into second ahead of the throw. A half-inning later, he sprung from his crouch on a bunt attempt and made a nifty sliding catch directly behind home plate.
"He has a lot of tools, and The Texas Rangers are very lucky to have him," Saguaros manager Gary Kendall said. "He's a very talented guy that has great arm strength, good blocking skills, he's smart, he's alert, he has agility -- and that's just talking defensively.
"Offensively, the guy moves well around the bases, he's got power to all fields, and he's got baseball sense."
With Surprise trailing, 6-1, in the bottom of the fourth inning, Alfaro sprayed a single to left field, loading the bases. It set the stage for fellow Rangers farmhand Ryan Rua to put the Saguaros right back in the game with a grand slam, his fourth homer of the season.
Surprise scored four runs in the following frame, too, showcasing an offense that has been the Fall League's most potent this season. Red Sox first base prospect Travis Shaw also had three hits, and leadoff man Joe Wendle -- in the Cleveland organization -- went 2-for-4 with a double and a walk.
But none of them used the entire field like Alfaro did on Tuesday. After hits down the left-field line and into the left-center field gap, Alfaro fell behind the count in the seventh inning before smacking a single to right field.
"I'm simply seeing the ball and wherever I see it, I'm going with it," Alfaro said of his ability to hit to all fields. "And that's something that's been working pretty well."