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Francisco Álvarez - Prospects to Know for 2022

fantasy baseball prospects MLB prospects rookies call-ups

The 2021 season was a major coming-out party for Mets' backstop prospect Francisco Álvarez. Álvarez was signed by the Mets as an international free agent in July of 2018. He signed for a good-sized bonus of $2.7 million. However, if he continues on his current trajectory, there's a good chance that he makes that sum of money look like pocket change compared to the value that he can add to the organization.

Álvarez started the year off with a non-roster invitation to the Mets' spring training in St. Lucie. Then, he received an aggressive early season placement in full-season ball despite being a teenaged catcher. He responded with aplomb and was promoted to the Brooklyn Cyclones in the High-A Southeast League on May 24.

In this article, I will look at Francisco Álvarez's tools and performance to summarize what I expect his future MLB role will become. Also, I will take a peek at his future fantasy potential, both in 2022 and beyond.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Fantasy Outlook

ETA: Late 2023
Expected performance (first 3 full seasons): Tier 3 ($20+)
Ceiling potential: Tier 2 ($30+)

Catcher

Francisco Álvarez

Mets

OAE:60

Future Role: Elite future bat splitting time between C and a Corner

Hit

Disc.

Power

Glove

 Run

Ath.

50

60

70

45

40

50

Summary

Prodigious power fueled Álvarez's 2021 breakout season. It plays well in-game and if it develops as it should, he could be a 40+ HR performer at peak. Also, his hit tool isn't a liability, and he should maintain a plus OBP. Everything in combination suggests an elite offensive performer. However, defense is more of a question mark, and probably the thing that will prevent him from being a perennial MVP candidate.

 

Hit

Season Team Level BB% K% SwStr% LD% xwOBA
2019 NYM R 12.9% 12.9% 17.9% 36.4% 0.418
2019 NYM R 11.3% 21.9% 10.3% 21.6% 0.340
2021 NYM A 22.4% 10.4% 8.1% 19.5% 0.414
2021 NYM A+ 12.0% 24.6% 13.8% 15.6% 0.385

We need more of a track record before making bold statements about Álvarez's future hit tool. At a few different levels, he has shown a really exciting ability to both make consistent contact and hard contact. However, his time at High-A in 2021 was longer than his time at all the other levels combined in his career so far. And it is that level that I'd like to hone in on.

With a slight toe tap, Álvarez shows a great feel for timing the deliveries of opposing pitchers. He used to start from a wide stance, with his weight balanced primarily on his back leg. He changed that up a bit this season, starting slightly taller and dropping into his back leg. He has the hand-eye coordination to get away with either approach. However, his current setup can lead to him getting off balance at times, which pitchers will look to exploit as he moves up the ladder.

Álvarez seems to read offspeed well. He will punish a hanging breaker. His bat speed is excellent, allowing him to hang back that extra half beat.

His bat path can get into a bit of a pronounced uppercut. This is good in a way, as it allows him to scoop and drive the ball in the air. It is also bad in a way, as it means he can get under pitches, leading to cans of corn and infield pop-ups (.260 BABIP at A+ is a testament to this).

Álvarez's setup and approach should lead him to be a pull-side dominant hitter. As long as he keeps lifting the ball in the air, it shouldn't be a huge issue for him. However, it's another facet of his game that will ding his BABIP and therefore his batting average potential.

 

Discipline

Álvarez has the needed pitch recognition to become a potential plus OBP performer in the Bigs. He reads spin out of the pitcher's hand well and seems to identify pitches quickly. This, combined with his bat speed, gives him an extra beat over an average hitter.

He did start hunting for pull-side power in A+. This led his pitches per plate appearance to drop below 4.0 at that level. He still put up a double-digit walk rate despite that earlier trigger.

 

Power

Season Team Level ISO HR/FB FB% Barrel%
2019 NYM R 0.385 33.3% 27.3% 14.5%
2019 NYM R 0.160 12.8% 40.2% 9.4%
2021 NYM A 0.229 15.4% 31.7% 9.1%
2021 NYM A+ 0.290 28.2% 39.2% 14.4%

Francisco already displays plus game power, and he's still only 19 years old. When considering his power output in 2021, remember that his home park at High-A Brooklyn was a tough one to hit for power in last year. According to Baseball America's park factors, it is possible that Álvarez's power numbers were suppressed by as much as 25% there last season.

He shows raw power to all fields in-game. On one fastball that he drove out of the park to deep centerfield last year, he actually was off-balance at the point of contact. He still managed to muscle it over the fence. Opposite field power is clearly present too.

His in-game power comes from a combination of rotational speed, bat speed, rotational strength, and lower half strength and engagement. He combines that with some uppercut in his swing, making sure that he drives the ball in the air.

His power and approach can be pull-heavy at times. This could lead him to be susceptible to a fastball inside, breaking ball low and away approach. He pulls a lot of flyballs foul down the left-field line. Right-handers with premium velocity that can work inside will be tough on him.

 

Defense

Squat, agile, and flexible, Álvarez certainly looks the part of a backstop. However, he hasn't shown the ability to control the running game in his professional career thus far. Would-be base stealers have managed a 77% success rate running on him. This got more pronounced as he advanced to High-A in 2021. Teams attempted 75 stolen bases on him in just 49 games, with a 78% success rate despite the frequency of jumps against him.

He has the necessary arm strength to handle the position. The organization thinks that, with additional game reps, he can pick up the defense to the point where he can be an everyday backstop. The NL DH would be a welcome development for Álvarez's future playing time as well.

 

Run

Álvarez has shown a willingness to run in his MiLB career, and he went a surprising 8-for-13 in stolen base chances last season. His first step is slow. This might be his issue with controlling the running game as well. That being said, once he's underway he has deceptive speed.

He probably can't afford to gain any more weight and maintain this kind of speed moving forward. I would not anticipate many stolen bases from Álvarez at the highest level. That being said, he won't kill the team on the basepaths and might have the instincts to steal a few bases in crucial moments.

 

Athleticism

Alvarez, listed at 5'10", 233 lbs., has a lot of good weight built up in his lower half and across his broad, barreled chest. He's strong, he's flexible, and like I said previously once he is underway Álvarez is deceptively quick for his size.

His rotational strength is great. His hand-eye coordination is strong. He has a quick and lively arm, allowing for both plus throwing strength and bat speed.

He's probably physically maxed out at present. This means he's going to have to be diligent about his weight. I see no reason why he won't be, and he should maintain his strength no matter what.

As an aside, Álvarez also displays a real passion for playing. He was hit by a pitch at the tail end of the 2021 season following his 24th home run on the year. It was bush league. Álvarez was ready to respond, charging at the mound before being held back by his teammates. It's the kind of fire you want to see from a potential top prospect.



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