Jorge Alfaro wasn’t thinking about moving up.
And that, in part, is why the Texas Rangers moved him from High A Myrtle Beach to Double A Frisco on Monday.
The catcher, who turned 21 in June, is the No. 2 prospect in the Rangers’ farm system.
He earned the promotion after stepping up to a challenge from the organization.
“Basically, he stepped up to a couple challenges that we laid out recently,” said Mike Daly, the Rangers’ senior director of minor league operations. “He was ready, in our eyes, for the next challenge of going up to Frisco, both from an offensive and defensive end. We’re excited about it.”
So is Alfaro, of course. The Sincelejo, Colombia, native feels like he earned the shot to show the organization that he’s capable of excelling both defensively and offensively at a high level.
“They just told me I was playing hard and being a leader the last two months,” he said after a recent batting practice in Frisco. “I’m getting better, getting mature. They think it’s time I start showing what I can do; that I can play baseball. I can play for my teammates.”
It will also give Alfaro a chance to learn from Pat Cantwell, who has been catching a strong pitching staff in Frisco.
“They’ll both catch some,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “Some of the things we want Jorge to work on, that’s what Cantwell’s strengths are. I think it’s good for Alfaro to see Cantwell handle this really good pitching staff and raise his level.”
It also puts Alfaro one call from his dream.
“That’s how I think [of it.] I’m one step from my dream; my goal. It’s the big leagues,” he said. “Still one more goal so I’m still working hard 100 percent of the time.”
Big jump for Mazara
Alfaro isn’t the only Rangers prospect that made a jump.
Outfielder Nomar Mazara was promoted from Low A Hickory to Frisco.
He responded with a double and triple in his first game with the RoughRiders on Tuesday. He followed that, however, with an 0-for-12 streak that included five strikeouts.
But the 19-year-old from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, isn’t fazed by being the youngest player in the Texas League.
“I don’t put pressure on myself,” he said. “I’ll keep doing the same thing. Work hard and try to help my team; nothing else.”
Both moves have nothing to do with the Rangers’ struggles with injuries in 2014, Daly said.
The players at the lower levels have individual plans laid out for them and their progress, for the most part, is divorced from the needs of the major league club.
“He’s on his own time frame,” Daly said. “He’s a guy we felt was ready for the challenge of going to Frisco and is a guy we really like. It’s a good pitching staff, and a good team there in Frisco, and we wanted Jorge to be a part of that.”
Same for Mazara, Daniels said.
“This is basically us saying, not just for him, but the whole system: if you do it the right way you get rewarded for it,” he said.
“We wanted him to be a part of that team, with [Joey] Gallo, [Odubel] Herrera and that pitching staff with Cantwell for Alfaro. We wanted them all to play together. I think it pushes each other a little bit.”
Mazara said he and his teammates have followed the major league team’s struggles and hopes to be part of the solution down the road.
“We try to watch it because it’s our team,” he said. “We have to try to take care of it. We hope they get better fast.”
Daly said Mazara had proven enough after a year and a half in Hickory.
“The last couple of months in our eyes he has taken his game to another level,” Daly said. “Not only from his on-the-field performance, but from a maturity standpoint he was capable and ready for Frisco, and we wanted to provide him with that challenge.”