Rafael Alvarez (minors02)
Rafael Angel Alvarez Flores
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 0", Weight 198 lb.
Rafael Alvarez has spent five seasons in AAA (through 2012) but never made the majors. Through 2011, he had a career average of .298 and OBP of .390.
Alvarez began his pro career with the 1994 GCL Twins, hitting .317/.425/.426 and registering 10 assists in 31 outfield games. He batted .286 that winter for the 1994-1995 Tiburones de La Guaira. With the '95 Fort Wayne Wizards, he produced at a .283/.343/.396 clip with 15 steals in 26 tries and 8 errors as the starting center fielder. He struggled that winter, going only 4 for 42. In 1996, the Valencia native split time between the Fort Myers Miracle (3 for 22, BB) and the Wizards (.302/.363/.421, 30 2B, 7 3B). He tied for 8th in the Midwest League in triples and 9th in average (between Mike Kinkade and Mark Quinn) He hit .278/?/.317 for the 1996-1997 Tiburones.
Rafael spent 1997 with Fort Myers (.270/.357/.385 in 47 G), the New Britain Rock Cats (.255/.340/.383 in 16 G) and the Salt Lake Buzz (.271/.352/.383 in 17 G). In the winter, he hit .265/?/.398 with 8 triples and 32 runs in 62 games. He tied Bobby Abreu, Eric Owens and Tim Florez for 6th in the Venezuelan League in runs and easily led the loop in three-baggers, 3 ahead of runners-up Mark Little and Jalal Leach. In the summer of '98, Alvarez hit .292/.364/.384 with 19 steals in 27 tries for Fort Myers, with 12 assists and only 3 errors. That winter, he moved to the Aguilas del Zulia and batted .250/?/.301, with his triple total dropping to 0 from his fine 8 the year before. He did win a Gold Glove, joining Magglio Ordonez and Selwyn Langaigne in being so honored in Venezuela.
In 1999, Alvarez again had a good year for the Miracle, producing at a .293/.375/.490 clip and throwing out 14 runners from the outfield. He also got into 6 games for Salt Lake, going 6 for 16 with a triple. In 1999-2000, he slumped to .189/?/.274 for Zulia then was 3 for 13 in the finals. Spending 2000 with New Britain, he hit .259/.349/.405. He switched clubs in 2000-2001, batting .258/?/.464 as a part-timer for the Tigres de Aragua; his four triples tied for second in Venezuela, one behind Endy Chavez.
The Valencia native was out of the Twins system in 2001, playing for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks (.310/.372/.444 in 38 G), Allentown Ambassadors (.262/.333/.377 in 16 G) and the Langosteros de Cancun (6 for 25, 2B, 6 BB). In 2001-2002, he hit .221 for Aragua but went deep 7 times in 104 AB to slug .452. He had one of the best home run rates in the Venezuelan League that season; only Abreu and Kevin Roberson managed more dingers in fewer at-bats. He spent all of the 2002 summer with the Elmira Pioneers and his batting line finished at .293/.372/.498 for a solid campaign. He was just 13 for 71 in the winter for the Pastora de Los Llanos.
With the 2003 Pioneers, Alvarez batted .318/.410/.553 with 29 doubles, 14 home runs, 57 runs, 55 RBI and 13 outfield assists in 79 games. He tied for third in the Northeastern League in runs (behind Marcos Agramonte and Vic Davilla), was 4th in home runs, tied Darren Blakely and Scott Hunter for the most doubles, tied John Anderson for fourth in average, was second to Davilla in OBP, was third in slugging (trailing Davilla and Blakely), was second to Davilla in OPS and tied John Ballon for 7th in RBI. He joined Blakely and Carlos Rodriguez as the All-Star outfield picks. In the winter season, he went 7 for 35 with a double for the Navegantes del Magallanes, his 5th Venezuelan League club.
In 2004, the veteran outfielder tore the cover off the ball for the Pensacola Pelicans, producing at a .353/.468/.642 clip with 21 doubles, 12 dingers, 20 steals (caught only 4 times), 60 runs and 52 RBI in 60 games. He tied for 9th in the Central Baseball League in home runs, led in average (13 points over Dan Meier), led in OBP (23 points ahead of Meier), led in slugging (27 points ahead of Pat O'Sullivan), led in OPS (117 ahead of O'Sullivan) and was 9th in steals. He was named an All-Star outfielder alongside Juan Rocha and Ryan Webb. He also was honored as the Player of the Year. He remained hot in the winter, batting .318/?/.564 with 13 doubles, 9 home runs, 34 runs and 36 RBI in 53 games for the Leones del Caracas, but was 1 for 8 in the finals. Among Venezuelan League players with 100+ AB, he was 5th in slugging. He also tied for 10th in RBI and tied for 8th in circuit clouts.
Alvarez split 2005 between two Mexican League clubs (.309/.405/.588, 13 HR, 31 BB in 56 G) and Pensacola (.305/.373/.644, 12 R in 15 G). He was back with Caracas in 2005-2006 and hit .288/.377/.518 with 12 doubles, 9 home runs and 26 walks in 59 games. He hit .434 with 11 runs in 16 games in the semifinals then went 9 for 20 with four doubles, four runs and five RBI in five games in the finals to help lead Caracas to the title. For the regular season, he was among the leaders in home runs (tied for 5th, trailing Tom Evans, Yurendell De Caster, Luke Scott and Frank Diaz) and walks (10th). He struggled in the 2006 Caribbean Series, going 4 for 28 with two walks, a home run, five runs and three RBI. He did tie 7 others (all major leaguers) for fifth in the event in runs, trailing only Marco Scutaro, Alexis Gomez, Anderson Hernandez and Ramon Hernandez. Caracas won the title.
In 2006, Rafael was back in the affiliated minors for the first time in six years, appearing for the Pittsburgh Pirates' Altoona Curve affiliate; he batted an unimpressive .250/.314/.357, backing up Ray Sadler in right field and splitting left field with Nyjer Morgan and Brett Roneberg. He was at .287/.387/.411 for the Leones that winter. In 2007, he played for the Anderson Joes (.271/.458/.458, 34 BB in 31 G) and two Mexican League clubs (a combined .282/.428/.415, 36 BB in 43 G). He was 4 for 28 to open 2007-2008 with Caracas then switched teams and hit .321/.422/.604 for the 2007-2008 Bravos de Margarita.
Back in his old haunts with Pensacola in 2008, Alvarez's batting line was .304/.437/.561 with 18 home runs, 58 runs, 53 RBI, 18 steals and 64 walks in 83 games, though he fielded an uncharacteristically low .919. He was 5th in the American Association in home runs, tied for 9th in steals, 3rd in walks (behind Brandon Sing and Grant Richardson), 2nd in slugging (trailing Beau Torbert), first in OBP (.002 over Richardson) and first in OPS. In his first full winter with Margarita, he fared poorly, hitting .229/.325/.381.
Alvarez opened 2009 with Pensacola (.269/.385/.368 in 50 G) then was let go and was signed by the Lincoln Saltdogs, for whom he batted .369/.470/.586 in 30 games. Between the two clubs, he had 53 runs, 51 walks and 23 steals in 31 tries. He was 10th in the American Association in swipes. Back with the Tiburones after a 11-year hiatus, he did a fine job (.309/.408/.485, 11 2B, 6 HR, 33 R, 26 RBI, 27 BB in 51 G) in 2009-2010. He tied Oscar Salazar for 9th in the LVBP in walks.
With the 2010 Saltdogs, the veteran flyhawk hit .337/.440/.503 with 29 doubles, 15 steals, 64 walks and 78 runs in 93 games. He was 7th in the AA in OBP, 9th in average, 8th in runs, tied for 6th in doubles (with Brent Krause and Kent Sakamoto) and was 6th in walks. He played poorly with the 2010-2011 Tiburones (.203/.347/.322) and did well in part-time action with the 2011 Saltdogs (.340/.460/.453 in 43 G). In 2011-2012, he was a very productive bench player for La Guaira (.348/.483/.543 in 58 PA over 32 G). In 2012, he did not play in the minors for the first time in 19 years. He was 9 for 34 with 3 doubles, 2 home runs and 7 walks for the 2012-2013 Tiburones.
Through 2012, Alvarez had hit .298/.390/.460 in 1,461 minor league games, with 869 runs, 321 doubles, 142 home runs, 770 RBI, 757 walks and 208 steals (caught 89 times). He had also played 764 games in the Venezuelan League, with a .261/?/.409 batting line, 280 runs, 262 RBI, 103 doubles and 49 home runs. He was even better in the Venezuelan postseason at .314/?/.476 in 126 games, with 59 runs and 43 RBI.
Alvarez was the DH, hitting 5th or 3rd, for Spain in the 2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers. He went 6 for 16 with 3 walks, one RBI and no runs despite all those times on base. In the finale against Israel, a 9-7 win for Spain, he was 0 for 3 with two walks. For the qualifier, he tied Gabe Suarez and Engel Beltre for third in hits, one behind co-leaders Yunesky Sanchez and Paco Figueroa. He remained with Spain for the 2013 World Baseball Classic.