The Rise of Francisco Álvarez

Francisco Ålvarez, Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Dunkin' Donuts Park, Hartford, CT, April 8, 2022. Photo credit Dan Stites, @bookmdanno on Twitter

MLB’s new #1 overall prospect (according to MLB Pipeline), Mets catcher Francisco Álvarez, has been tearing it up this year. For comparison sake, he slotted in at #20 overall on our Prospects1500 Overall Top 189 Prospects back in June, although we expect him to rise in the upcoming overall ranks update coming this fall.

Álvarez killed the competition in Double-A and more recently adjusted to Triple-A, prior to his right ankle injury. It feels like almost every other day he was hitting some kind of highlight home run. Before his injury at the end of August, the Mets said that they weren’t ruling out calling him up to the big leagues in 2022. Unfortunately, he has yet to receive his call due to the injury keeping him out of action. Currently, the Mets roster two catchers, James McCann, who has battled injuries all year, and Tomas Nido, who has been doing a lot of their catching.

If Álvarez had stayed healthy, the Mets definitely would have at the least considered him as a September call-up. His right ankle injury just left a ton of uncertainty, with rumors that he would miss the rest of the season. However, luckily for Álvarez and his fans, that was not the case. He has returned to the lineup in Triple-A Syracuse and without surprise, homered in his 2nd game back from injury. It would take major adjusting, however, most would agree that Álvarez would be more productive than McCann or Nido in the majors. Many in April observed Julio Rodriguez and Bobby Witt Jr. hitting under .200 until they made adjustments. Francisco would do the same but first needs to get through Triple-A.

Álvarez was ranked #1 on our January and Midseason Mets Top 50 Prospects and he has definitely kept that spot so far without a doubt. Let’s take a dive into some of his stats on the year.

Double-A with 67 Games: .277 AVG / .368 OBP / .553 SLG / .922 OPS / .277 ISO / .395 wOBA / 146 wRC+ / 18 HR

Triple-A with 34 Games: .183 AVG / .333 OBP / .392 SLG / .725 OPS / .208 ISO / .329 wOBA / 97 wRC+ / 7 HR

Álvarez ISO is what stands out, with power to all fields. Isolated Power (ISO) measures the raw power of a hitter by taking only extra-base hits — and the type of extra-base hit — into account. In Double-A Binghamton, he led his team with a .277 ISO and was highly ranked on the league leaderboards. 34 of his 70 hits at Binghamton were extra base hits. His 16 doubles and 18 home runs were a sign of excellent production, especially from a catcher. In June, he was on an absolutely ridiculous stretch of hitting, totaling 12 homers in 22 games and 8 homers in 17 games, shown more in the tweet below.

The Triple-A numbers aren’t frightening given the number of games he’s played, but they are also not great. He is still recovering from the injury that kept him out for a couple of weeks. He is also definitely still adjusting to higher-level pitching. It will take time for sure, however, the power numbers have stayed strong and consistent at Syracuse, with 7 of his 22 hits being homers and 11 of his 22 hits going for extra bases. This is very similar to what he did in Double-A.

While there is room to grow on the defensive side, there is no reason that he can’t stay behind the plate in the future. He stands 5’10”, 233 pounds, built to catch. Álvarez has a great arm and can still improve throwing-wise. Also, his framing can improve as well. If anything, defense behind the plate is an added bonus to his star offensive numbers and he has one of the largest ceilings in Minor League Baseball. This tweet from 2021 in Brooklyn shows off Álvarez’s powerful arm down to second.

Even if Álvarez does not get the call to Queens in 2022, he should almost certainly get the call in 2023, unless the Mets sign a big name catcher which seems unlikely. In the categories listed above, he was top 15 in all of them among qualified players in Double-A. He was even higher in most of them. His ceiling is so high, especially for a catcher. Worse comes to worst, he will be the Mets’ everyday DH one day if the catching doesn’t exactly work out.

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