Fans and media love to play the X of the future game. So let’s play “Who is the New York Mets catcher of the future?” My choice is teenage prospect Francisco Alvarez.
As Rising Apple’s Tim Boyle wrote last month, keep an eye on prospect Francisco Alvarez to be the New York Mets catcher of the future. And by future, I mean around 2023 because Alvarez won’t even turn 18 until November.
Let’s start with a FanGraphs scouting report:
Team Rank: 10 Overall Rank: NA Reported: 2019 – Updated
- Hit 25 / 55 (left side is current rating / right side is projected rating)
- Game Power 20 / 45
- Raw Power 50 / 50
- Speed 45 / 35
- Field 40 / 50
- Throws 55 / 55
- Future Value 40+
To compare to another young catcher here is the FanGraphs scouting report for Francisco Mejia of the San Diego Padres. Mejia will turn 24 before Alvarez turns 18:
Team Rank: 6 Overall Rank: 59 Reported: 2019
- Hit 50 / 60
- Game Power 40 / 50
- Raw Power 55 / 55
- Speed 50 / 45
- Field 40 / 45
- Throws 80 / 80
- Future Value 50
Starting with the Gulf Coast League Mets and moving up quickly to the Kingsport Mets of the Rookie-level Appalachian League, Alvarez has a combined slash line of .328/.423/.500/.923.
- Gulf Coast League .462/.548/.846/1.395
- Appalachian League .294/.390/.412/.802
Just as importantly Alvarez is 3.4 years younger than the average player in Appalachian League giving him a huge advantage in developing into the player the Mets hope he becomes.
You can see from the scouting report above how much room there is between his current ratings and future ratings.
Let’s take a closer look at Francisco Javier Alvarez from Guatire, Venezuela whom the Mets signed as an international free agent on July 2, 2018. He ranked 9th among international free agents and signed for a huge bonus of $2.9 million.
Alvarez is short and stocky at 5’11” and 220 pounds, similar to old friend and current Syracuse Met Rene Rivera. Height is not an advantage for a catcher at least in the framing department. I doubt that it helps in throwing to second base either although I did not find any research on this.
FYI: My own quick research discovered that of the top seven current MLB catchers in poptime all but one are exactly 6’1″ tall. And none of the bottom seven are exactly 6’1″ tall, with four being at least 6’2″ tall. I doubt this means anything but it is odd to say the least.
His best tools according to scouts are his hit tool and throwing arm. His walk rate has been good at each stop so far at 12.9% (GCL) and 11.0% (AppL) while his strikeout rate has taken a jump with his promotion from 12.9% (GCL) to 22.9% (AppL) which is not surprising especially given his extreme age differential.
Here’s another scouting report from John Calvagno from Notes from the Sally which gives a higher rating for power including a possibility of Alvarez hitting 30+ home runs a year if all goes well. This quote shows another aspect of Alvarez that will sit very well with Mets fans:
“He DH’d in this game and at least a handful of times he sprinted out of the dugout and high fived his teammates as they came off the field. I enjoyed seeing the enthusiasm. He seemed to have his head in the game too which isn’t always easy to do as a DH.”
There are three major questions that will determine whether Alvarez will become a good starting catcher, an MLB backup catcher, or a 4A journeyman.
- Will his defense stay a strong point as he develops?
- Will his hit tool stay well above average while improving his power?
- Will his BB/K ratio be closer to 1.0 or to 0.5 as he moves up to higher levels?
Just like pitchers, it takes a little longer for catchers to reach their potential due to the increased responsibilities of the job. If Alvarez can balance his offensive and defensive production and learn to work well with his pitchers–some of whom will probably join him on the Mets in a few years–I believe he will be a better than average starting catcher for the Mets.
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Is there any other catcher of the future candidates that you think are more likely to succeed than Francisco Alvarez?