2018: Francisco Alvarez
Unfortunately, the 2018 draft class may be remembered more for what could have been than what ultimately may be. The Mets’ top choice that year was Jarred Kelenic, who of course, was subsequently traded away as the centerpiece of the infamous deal that brought Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to New York. Kelenic’s debut with the Mariners in 2021 was less than impressive (-1.8 WAR in 93 games played), but the 22-year-old outfielder has been regarded as a can’t-miss, five tool prospect. Time will tell.
There’s also Simeon Woods Richardson, a second-round choice dealt as part of the package that brought Marcus Stroman over from Toronto in 2019. The return in that trade worked out a bit better for the Mets (even if the aftertaste hasn’t been great), but the book hasn’t been opened on the young starter yet; he’s been ranked in Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list twice, although a rough 2021 at Double-A might temper the hype he’s carried. Again, time will tell.
One notable addition the Mets have hung onto from that year, however, has quickly made his case for being the best of the bunch. That would be Francisco Alvarez, who signed shortly after the draft out of Venezuela.
Alvarez, who only just turned 20 in November, heads into 2022 as a top-15 overall prospect according to Baseball America (#13), Baseball Prospectus (#10) and Keith Law of The Athletic (#8). The catcher has already stormed up the farm system, reaching High-A Brooklyn last year after a full season at Rookie level in 2019, alternate-site work during the pandemic in 2020, and just 15 games at Low-A St. Lucie to start 2021. He has raw power, which was on full display last season to the tune of 24 home runs and a .554 slugging percentage across just 327 at-bats.
Combined with leadership skills and a strong arm, scouts say Alvarez has the tools to keep accelerating towards the major leagues. While a debut in 2023 seems more likely, anything is possible if things keep trending as they are for Alvarez in 2022.