Player Focus Piece

Omar Narvaez is out of commission for an extended period of time which has left the Mets with no option but to activate their top prospect, Francisco Alvarez. On the front of, is Alvarez ready? We are all about to find out. We can expect Tomas Nido to see plenty of playing time but the Mets will not be bringing up Alvarez to sit on the bench. Or would they?

Buck Showalter is a great manager but his comments on Alvarez have made a number of Met pundits nervous. “It’s kind of like a backup quarterback that gets drafted out of college. Everybody knows he’s going to be a really good player, but the time he spends as a backup is very valuable too.” I understand that Tomas Nido is a borderline elite defensive catcher but his hitting will never be enough to make him a viable starter. Alvarez’s instincts and skills behind and at the plate will not be helped by having him sit on the sidelines.

Having watched Alvarez at AAA for the first few games of the season, one thing was very clear, Alvarez loves fastballs. He sits in the batter’s box and waits for a pitcher to groove a pitch without too much movement. This means that he makes crafty veterans look like pitching greats and fireballers look like chumps. This isn’t to say that Alvarez can’t hit a curveball but in the games he’s played so far he’s been waiting on the heat.

Expect pitchers in the majors to be aware of his focus on fastballs and for them to throw him pitches with quite a lot of movement. Let us hope that the Mets find ways to keep his bat in the lineup and lets

AAA – Syracuse Mets

Ronny Mauricio and Who is Playing Where?

The Mets have three top players in AAA whose best positions are all third base. Brett Baty has the inside track to be the future Met’s third baseman with Mark Vientos and Ronny Mauricio looking for other homes. On the bright side of organizational planning the Mets have begun the inevitable shift of Vientos to first. This will add flexibility to their future DH and allow the team to give him spot starts for both Baty and Alonso in the future.

On the less wise side of things the Mets have left Ronny Mauricio at shortstop. It’s hard to say what their thinking is on this decision. The scouting on Mauricio’s defense at short is out and it’s not at all optimistic. He’s big for the position and he has poor defensive statistics to show for it. The sensible thing would have been to shift him to the outfield but the Mets seem determined to hold him at short. Could this be to increase his trade value? In theory, but a bad defensive shortstop is a liability, not an asset.

● Francisco Alvarez – Alvarez only played in 4 games before being promoted but had an SLG of .688 at that time.
● Brett Baty – Baty was off to an amazing start before having a sore thumb and missing almost a week of playing time. He’s thankfully back in the lineup and knocking on Showalter’s door pointing out that Eduardo Escobar’s at bats are increasingly painful to watch.
● Ronny Mauricio – There has been a big positive change in Mauricio’s early season outings. He has begun striking out less and walking more. In 9 games he has only 6 strikeouts and 3 walks.
● Mark Vientos – Mark Vientos looks like a professional hitter. Watching him hit in AAA makes it easy to see that he has a swing that will make an impact in the majors. Tommy Pham and Daniel Vogelbach should be placed on notice.
Bryce Montes de Oca – This injury is going to keep him our for all of 2023.
Jose Butto – Butto has gotten off to an okay start but his peripheral numbers now match his “Ho-Hum” stuff. He remains a depth starter.
Grant Hartwig – Adding to a growing list of players in AAA who belong in the majors. I have drunk the Hartwig kool aid and you should too.
Jonathan Araúz – The 24 year old “journeyman” has got off to a very good start for AAA. That being said, he’s beginning to come back to earth.
Danny Mendick – He’s 29 and not a prospect but I’ll point out that Mendick probably belongs in the majors as a Utility super sub.
Carlos Cortes – Credit where credit is due, this on again off again prospect has finally begun showing that he can hit at the AAA level. Without power or a natural position, it may not matter.

AA – Binghamton Rumble Ponies

The Mets Ignore AA

The Mets are stacked at AAA and Advanced A but right now the Mets have little in the way of batting talent in Binghamton. That will change quickly if Kevin Parada and others continue to perform in Brooklyn but right now Dominic Hamel and Make Vasil are your reasons to watch.

● Dominic Hamel – While Hamel showed some control issues in game 1 he only gave up one hit and struck out seven.
Mike Vasil – Yet to pitch.
Hayden Senger – With Alvarez in the majors it would make sense for Senger to also see a promotion but he isn’t yet hitting significantly.
JT Schwartz – It’s early but Schwartz’s early numbers at the plate are poor.
Jose Peroza – Yet to play.

Advanced A – Brooklyn Cyclones

How Quickly Could Kevin Parada Move

The Mets were expected to begin Parada in Advanced A. He was drafted last year and has only had a taste of the minors. That being said, when you watch Parada’s at bats in Brooklyn you can see how much more mature a hitter he is in his approach from start to finish. He controls the strike zone with confidence and his swings look purposeful. I remember watching Mauricio at this level and thinking, “this guy can swing.” Looking at Parada I say to myself, “This guy knows how to hit.” This being said, I can’t imagine that we get too far into this season before we see Parada getting a promotion to AA.

● Kevin Parada – Parada looks like a star at the plate and is hitting with authority. His way too early, three games in stat line is .273/.467/.545 and it seems like he could maintain it.
Alex Ramirez – The Mets returned Ramirez to Advanced A instead of giving him a promotion to Binghamton and he’s yet to prove their caution misguided.
Blade Tidwell – Yet to pitch.
● D’Andre Smith – Yet to play.
Tyler Stuart – This mid-tier prospect had a very nice first start to the season with 4.0 scoreless innings and 5 strikeouts.
Cesar Berbesi – This smallish shortstop should not have been on too many radars but the Mets have him hitting in the middle of a stacked lineup and his early returns are outstanding.

Low A – Port St. Lucie Mets

A Number of Players Yet to be Seen

When will the Mets show Nick Morabito? Are Simon Juan or Willy Fanas going to need to wait for Rookie ball to begin to get into game action? Will the Mets ever see Robert Dominguez actually pitching on the mound after his international draft hype? Lots of questions and too early to be answered.

Jett Williams – The top prospect at this level, Williams is leading off and doing okay in the early going but there aren’t too many stats to judge him from.
Jacob Reimer – The Mets are splitting his time between first base and third. Defensively, he’s looked fine at both. Offensively, he also seems on target.
● Jawilme Rodriguez – 4.2 innings in his first outing with 7 strikeouts is a nice way to debut the season.

10 comments on “Mets Minors: Francisco Alvarez gets his shot

  • ChrisF

    Really love these reports David. Thanks for legging out all the hard work to put this stuff together.

    As for Alvarez. I think it’ll be a slow ramp up to everyday for him. While we think of Nido’s defensive skills set as important, I suspect equally important is his game calling and general ease that pitchers have throwing to him. He seems to be a preferred receiver. When chucking around all the cash that Cohen has done for our, shall we say, advanced age rotation, I think having veteran confidence out there matters, maybe even a lot, to the throwers. Alvarez’ day is coming to be sure.

    The whole Mauricio thing got me noodling at what the Mets could be contemplating. We all thought he’s got right field in the bulls eye, but that seems not to be whats going on. So why keep him at SS. Its the hardest, most valued position on the dirt. Like you said, he ain’t gonna grade there for reals, so why hurt his potential trade value, just like you said? Im now leaning towards this thought: the more he plays at short, the easier it will be for him to cover all three positions. He can play 3B, and he should be able to cover 2B after all the time at short. Why all three positions? Well, lets say its getting harder and harder to watch Groundout Guillorme day after day. Sure, he can dazzle with the mitt on, but wow, is he bad news bears with his balsa wood bat. Also turns out GG will be heading to Arb years after this season so the cash register will be ringing a little louder. Im suspecting they are grooming Mauricio for infield super U duty and DH where he could scramble together 400+ ABs. We know this team needs more power and he’s got it. If he can cover all three infield spots, then it would make sense.

    I’d still like to see him with an OF glove and basically be the reverse of McNeil.

    • David Groveman

      I am 100% in the camp of Mauricio belongs in the outfield. If I was able to ask him a question it would be: “Have the Mets even approached you about playing in the outfield?” I don’t think he’s going to grade out as a “Plus” defender at third or second and he grades as a “Minus” at short. He could be an asset in the outfield with his speed and his arm strength. His bat is looking better and better and I just think the Mets aren’t thinking clearly about his positional future.

      Right now I’m in favor of a lot of youth hitting queens in 2023. Canha’s rope is a little longer but I have:

      – Brett Baty replacing Eduardo Escobar at third
      – Mark Vientos replacing Daniel Vogelbach as the primary DH
      – Francisco Alvarez staying as the catcher with either Nido or Narvaez splitting the duties
      – Ronny Mauricio replacing Mark Canha if Canha’s bat doesn’t wake up or being ready for an outfield injury.
      – Grant Hartwig promoted to the majors immediately

      • Metsense

        Good summation with this reply and also an excellent article.
        It is early yet, 10 games, but don’t ignore the present either. It bears monitoring it.
        Baty > Escobar125/152/ 250/402, 5 OPS+
        Vientos > Pham 227/292/409/701, 84 OPS+

  • Woodrow

    And then there’s Ohtani! Cohen will go after him,even sacrificing some prized prospects in the farm system he’s trying to develop.

    • David Groveman

      I support trading prospects for Ohtani but there is a limit for what can be given for a rental, no matter how great.

      To me, the following players are untouchable:

      Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty

      I would trade one of these guys if that was all it took:

      Ronny Mauricio, Kevin Parada or Alex Ramirez

      Anyone below these names isn’t likely to factor into Los Angeles’ radar. (Barring an amazing start to 2023)

  • Mike W

    Unless Ohtani signed a new deal or extension when acquired, the orientation would be too high. After the rental, if he left, we have no Ohtani and down two or three young players. Not interested in that scenario. Plus seriously aging pitchers. The law firm of Peterson and Megill isn’t going to bring us a pennant.

    Right now, I’d rather ditch Vogelbach and Escobar and get Vientos and Baty in the lineup.

  • Brian Joura

    In addition to Hamel and Vasil, I’m glad to see Nathan Lavender in Double-A, too. As a reliever, he doesn’t have the ceiling of the other two. But he was old for his level last year and it’s nice to see the Mets being aggressive with his initial placement.

  • DAEngel1969

    It’s becoming increasingly evident that last year’s September surge from Escobar was an illusion and that his glove is the only reason he’s still playing. Once Baty is 100% they absolutely have to promote him and let his bat play.

    • Bob P

      Escobar’s glove is just as bad as his bat. He was very bad in the field last year and while he has looked pretty good so far this season, it’s a very small sample size. He’s not a good defensive player.

      • deegrove84

        Agreed, the magical September Surge aside, Escobar has been a black hole offensively and defensively. The Mets need to make sure the thumb concerns with Baty are well in the rearview mirror and then promote him. I don’t think Baty will ever rank among the best defensive third basemen but he should perform better than Escobar.

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