Jorge Alfaro showed why scouts love him Thursday afternoon at Spectrum Field.
Alfaro ripped a ball into the wind, doubling off the right-center-field wall in the fourth inning of a 6-0 victory over the University of Tampa, the Phillies' final day before they play the Yankees in Friday's Grapefruit League opener in Tampa, Fla.. He also threw out a basestealer by several feet in the fourth.
The Phillies have no need to rush him. Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp ranked eighth out of 19 qualified catchers with a .752 OPS last season. His .448 slugging percentage ranked fourth.
Alfaro needs the work, anyway. He appeared in four games with the Phillies in September, going 2-for-16 with one walk and eight strikeouts. He hit .285 with 15 home runs, 67 RBIs and a .783 OPS in 97 games with Double-A Reading in 2016.
The consensus seemed to be this: tons of talent, scary power, cannon arm, but raw.
"He's got tremendous power potential," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He kind of has a tendency to inside-out the ball, and if he can learn how to get the head out, he's going to be a monster."
Defensively, Mackanin needs to see improvement, too.
"All around," Mackanin said. "He's looked good so far and he's showing noticeable improvement. One thing he's got going for him is his arm strength. He doesn't have to worry about being extremely quick with his release, his transfer, because he makes up for it with his arm."
Mackanin said Alfaro's throw to second base was timed at 1.95 seconds. He said it could be 1.8 seconds with a quicker release.
Alfaro only had one opportunity to throw out a basestealer in September, but he caught him. Statcast™ measured the throw at 89.4 mph, although it must be noted that the ball had bounced away from him and he threw from a standing position.
One throw from a standing position makes Alfaro's arm impossible to compare to other catchers. But 66 catchers last season had at least 10 throws on stolen -base attempts. Christian Bethancourt averaged 86.7 mph to lead the list. Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez ranked second at 86.4 mph.
"I've been working on blocking, receiving, calling games and all of that," Alfaro said. "You never stop learning. That's the way I think."
Notes from Thursday's exhibition
• Center fielder Roman Quinn singled, stole second and scored in the first and homered in the third.
• Right fielder Dylan Cozens crushed a two-run home run to center field in the fifth inning. He had four RBIs.