Should the Mets promote Francisco Alvarez to MLB?

francisco alvarez, mets

The last New York Mets catcher to hit 30 home runs in a single season was Mike Piazza in 2002.

League-wide, the position has become void of offensive talent, with the exception of a few standouts.

Since the beginning of the 2021 season, Mets catchers, including James McCann, Tomas Nido, Patrick Mazeika, and four appearances from Chance Sisco last season, have combined for a slash line of .195/.251/.289 and unsightly .540 OPS.

But the Mets may not have to wait much longer to finally get some production from the catching position because Francisco Alvarez is knocking on the door.

The 2017 international signee out of Venezuela is hitting the cover off the baseball in AA Binghamton and could push the Mets to promote him sooner than later.

 

Last season, Alvarez hit 24 home runs and drove in 70 RBI, slashing .272/.388/.554 in 99 combined games between Advanced-A ball and Single-A Brooklyn.

He’s steadily climbed the MLB prospect rankings on a yearly basis, ranking as high as the 10th best prospect in baseball entering 2022, according to MLB and Baseball Prospectus.

Beginning this season with Binghamton, Alvarez has handled his promotion to Double-A with aplomb.  After a minor slump at the end of May, Alvarez has continued his strong season with 13 homers, 35 runs batted in, and an OPS of .894 in 53 games this season.

Alvarez hasn’t been shy about expressing his wish to play in the Majors this season, “I think Vladdy, Acuña, Tatis Jr. — those guys were in my spot, and they’re already in the bigs,” Alvarez said recently through an interpreter, alluding to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Ronald Acuña Jr., and Fernando Tatis Jr. who all made their MLB debuts as 20-year-olds.

But at 20 years old,  Alvarez has just two and a half seasons of professional baseball under his belt.

Catching prospects typically require more seasoning and development than other positions given the added responsibilities of handling the pitching staff.

One of the main concerns about Alvarez was his defense behind the plate, specifically his pitch framing.

However, this year, Alvarez has made leaps in his ability to steal extra strikes for his pitchers from behind the plate.

Additionally, Alvarez has received high praise from his Binghamton battery mates for his game plan and pitch calling during games, “He’s my favorite catcher in the organization to throw to,” minor league pitcher Josh Hejka told Mets Minors’ Michael Mayer.

McCann is set to begin a rehab assignment starting at catcher for AA Binghamton on Thursday. Alvarez has been bumped to the DH spot for the time being.

With McCann still under contract for two more seasons after 2022 and Tomas Nido providing quality defense behind the plate, a promotion of Alvarez may simply be a matter of roster construction rather than his big league readiness.