Ever since the New York Mets spent a $2.9 million fortune on catcher Francisco Alvarez as an amateur international free agent at age 16, have anticipated Alvarez’s rise across the minor league system by placing high hopes on the Guatire, Venezuela native as the next great name. And after a bit of a slowdown in production a few weeks ago, Alvarez has returned to playing like an elite prospect.
And to intensify the hype, ESPN+ minor league guru Kiley McDaniel named Alvarez the best prospect in baseball in a column he published on Monday. And given McDaniel’s philosophies of prospect rankings, this is quite a feat for Alvarez to have.
McDaniel’s philosophy almost never allows a catcher to be the No. 1 prospect, but Mets prospect Francisco Alvarez is a special case in his eyes.
McDaniel says that he also took into account that Alvarez has a “longer track record of elite performance” compared to other prospects that he considered. He tore up the minors in 2019 in the Rookie class and at Class-A St. Lucie last year before seeing his power translate into home runs in 2022.
But after talking to experts and scouts after what they’re seeing in Alvarez, and what the main components of a great major league catcher should be, and how he’s performing in the minor leagues given his age and advancement, and how valuable catchers are in what they do in the game, McDaniel concluded that Alvarez is the best prospect in baseball.
McDaniel usually doesn’t rank catchers at the top because of graduations, especially what the league saw in Adley Rutschman getting called up by the Orioles just last month, plus the next two best overall prospects in Bobby Witt, Jr. of the Royals and Julio Rodriguez to the Mariners already called up.
Now, McDaniel notes that he believes Alvarez will not be transitioned to another position that is not his calling card like the outfield. He contrasts his outlook to how the Cubs managed Kyle Schwarber when he made to the big leagues. Schwarber was originally called up to be a catcher but then moved to the outfield so the Cubs could get All-Star catcher Miguel Montero in the lineup.
The Mets saw first-hand in the 2015 playoffs that Schwarber’s defense in left field was a great vulnerability, and his contribution to the Phillies’ porous defensive metrics this season are further proof of his unnatural fit, so it seems like the Mets are aiming at avoiding the same mistake the Cubs made in 2015.
Also note that Mets farm director Kevin Howard further advanced Alvarez's case on the Mets Prospective podcast last week that Alvarez is “a true born leader” and he wants to be “a part of the team solution to win games.” And for someone as young as him and how far along he’s come in development, that’s quite a gigantic endorsement, although he will still need some more time to develop skills behind the plate, like pitch framing and defense. But as the guy who manages and works with the pitchers, Alvarez's already established leadership is a huge plus.
Alvarez is only 20 years old, the youngest player in the league he plays in and won't turn 21 until November, and he has been carrying his Double-A team recently by playing his best baseball in his young professional career.
A 10-game stretch is a strong indicator of how well a player has been hitting. And over his last 10 games, Alvarez is batting .390 with a .902 slugging percentage and a 1.312 OPS, with six homers, 9 RBI’s, and 13 runs scored. So, he is currently smashing the baseball with authority in Binghamton.
His skills behind the plate are also improving. He recently threw out Yankees prospect Anthony Volpe trying to steal third base last week.
So Mets fans should be excited that the team’s best prospect is getting recognized by the national media.