As Mets Plan For a Title Run, Rookie Catcher May Lead the Charge
Top Rookie Prospect Francisco Alvarez will be given opportunity to be the general behind the plate with Mets new star studded Pitching Staff.
The New York Mets entered the MLB off-season with a plan to revamp their pitching staff from top to bottom and after a whirlwind of signings and trades, on paper they look like the team to beat. But there is one key to that whole equation; who will be the general behind the plate to help lead the charge?
In 2022, the Mets used a variety of players at the catchers position, with Tomas Nido playing the bulk of the games with 98 behind the plate. James McCann came in second with 61 games, Patrick Mazeika with 24 games and Michael Perez with six games. These were serviceable catchers that helped lead the pitching staff to 101 wins, but their offensive numbers were horrible. Only Nido batted above .200 at .239, but none of the four had more than three home runs, or drove in more than 28 RBIs. McCann is probably the only one of the bunch with pop in his bat, but an injury plagued season prevented him from playing enough games to be relevant in that category.
Entering the 2023 MLB season, there is a new kid on the block that can possibly put up the numbers that the Mets have lacked from the catching position, and that is Top Prospect Francisco Alvarez.
The Guatire, Venezuelan native made his major league debut on September 30, 2022 and in five games, batted .167, with a double, home run and an RBI. Out of the five games, he caught in two (13 innings) and out of the two he started one.
The highly touted prospect was ranked as MLB pipeline’s #13 international prospect during the 2018-2019 signing period.
In his first season in pro baseball, he hit a combined .312, with seven home runs and 26 RBIs in 42 games in Rookie ball. After the 2020 season was shut down due to the Covid Pandemic, Alvarez had his best season in minor league baseball in 2021 after launching 24 home runs, while driving in 70 runs in 400 plate appearances. The bulk of his playing time and power came with the Brooklyn Cyclones (Class A+), as he hit 22 home runs and drove in 58 runs in 84 games.
The promotions continued for Alvarez as the Mets sent him to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (AA) to start the 2022 season and he batted .277 with 16 doubles, 18 home runs and 47 RBIs through 67 games. On July 4, he was again promoted and this time to the top level of the minors, the Syracuse Mets (AAA) and launched nine home runs in 45 games. The following call was to the majors to give the rookie a sense of the bigs and what will be his job for years to come.
Towards the end of the 2022 season, Alvarez was suffering from a right ankle injury which limited his time on the field last September and in October he underwent surgery to repair the cartilage damage which stemmed from loose body in his ankle. He should be ready for spring training.
If the Mets hand Alvarez the starting job, he will have spring training to work with the new additions to the pitching staff such as veterans Justin Verlander and Jose Quintana, newcomer Japanese starter Kodai Senga, and returning starters Max Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco and the rest of the staff and bullpen. Does the rookie have what it takes to handle a staff that is expected to be the top in the league? Does he have the tools necessary to call a game, and earn the respect of his pitchers?
That may be a tall task for the 21 year old, but it will be a risk worth taking for the Mets as the potential for his power numbers is exciting. Which is something they have not had in a long time, possibly since the Mike Piazza days. Now I am not comparing him to Piazza and Mets fans all know that putting too much hype on a rookie, no matter how good he has been in the minors, is a recipe for failure. But the potential is there and it makes sense for the Mets to hand Alvarez the job and allow him the opportunity to grow.
Barring any trades, McCann and Nido will be there to help the rookie make adjustments and continue to get better. The other idea would also be to have him DH at times so his bat remains in the line-up. That gives the Mets a potential right handed power bat to go along with Daniel Vogelbach at the DH spot as their lefty power threat.
Francisco Alvarez has the potential to be a huge star with the Mets and also flourish under a pitching staff that we all expect will be there and when the dust settles come postseason.