Philadelphia Phillies catcher JT Realmuto made his return to Miami on Friday for a three-game series with the Marlins. Like former members of the fightin’ fish last year, he came, said how much he loves the Marlins organization (despite asking for a trade in back-to-back offseasons) and how happy he is now.
What makes this year different is now he got to voice his approval of the new changes to Marlins Park. Like a former fling who leaves only to return and see how everything has changed since.
“It’s great — a lot better than the sculpture,” Realmuto said. “I wasn’t a huge fan of it.”
The Marlins traded Realmuto to Philadelphia for catcher Jorge Alfaro, pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart, and $250,000 in international bonus money. Even though MLB Pipeline named Sanchez Miami’s top prospect and Stewart flirted with a no-hitter in his most recent start at Single-A Jupiter, Alfaro’s production is what will determine whether or not the Realmuto trade is a winner.
Both catchers were on display in the Phillies 9-1 victory. Realmuto went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a couple runs scored. Alfaro went 2-for-4 with a run scored as well, thanks to sac fly by right fielder Austin Dean.
Alfaro has been the lone bright spot in the Marlins’ lackluster lineup. The 25-year-old Colombian catcher leads the team with a .286 batting average, a .342 on-base percentage and .543 slugging percentage.
“If he will stay with the approach and the plan, he’s going to be dangerous,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Alfaro. “He will swing at way more strikes, and hit a lot more pitches. He just has to stick with it daily, and stay with his work. I think he understands what we’re trying to get to. I honestly think, if he sticks with it — and he’s not a kid who is afraid of anything at all. You can see it. He’s not afraid of the ball in any way, shape or form. He’s going to be dangerous, if he will stay with the plan and the approach on a daily basis.”
Realmuto made the All-Star Game last year by hitting .310 in the first half of the season and finishing with 21 home runs. Mattingly has said repeatedly since the trade that Alfaro’s power is off the charts. After hitting 10 home runs in 108 games as a rookie last year, clearing the 20 homer benchmark this season seems realistic.
That alone will make the trade a winner for the Marlins.
Tony Capobianco is the lead photographer for FiveReasonsSports.com