Top prospect Álvarez just misses cycle

August 8th, 2021

After riding an early season hot streak throughout May that brought a promotion to Brooklyn and an impressive June, Mets top prospect Francisco Álvarez experienced some of the perils playing a full season of baseball will bring. He hit .189 in July and began August 1-for-14 through his first five games.

Despite the struggles, Álvarez’s bat carries a ton of pop and he showed that in a big way on Saturday night. MLB Pipeline’s No. 32 prospect went 3-for-4 with a homer, a triple, a double, an RBI and two runs scored in Brooklyn’s come-from-behind 5-4 win over Hudson Valley.

“Definitely the biggest adjustment that I’ve had to make is failing. I’ve never failed hitting-wise, and I think it’s good that I’m failing now because it’s teaching me that I have to get better,” said Álvarez through a translator following the game. “It’s better to fail now than to fail in the big leagues. Not knowing what to do up there is a lot harder. It’s easier to do it here than up there for sure.”

The 19-year-old, batting cleanup for the Cyclones, launched his 14th homer of the season in the bottom of the second to open up the game’s scoring. Brooklyn’s broadcaster Keith Raad said the ball travelled 403 feet and was hit 103 mph off the bat, as Álvarez sent it to the trees that serve as a buffer between the stadium and the Coney Island Cyclone.

The catcher grounded out to second base to start the fourth inning and stepped back into the box in the sixth with Brooklyn trailing by a run. After working his way back from 0-2 count to a full count, Álvarez roped a ball to right-center that reached the wall on three hops, racing around the bases for his first career triple. He scored on Jeremy Vasquez’s RBI single in the following at-bat to knot the game at 3.

Álvarez came to the plate in the eighth in a tie ballgame. On a 1-2 fastball that caught the middle of the plate, he drove it out to right-center field, where it landed in beyond the grasp of Hudson Valley’s right fielder Everson Pereira. Álvarez strolled into second with his 17th double of the year but was thrown out at third trying to advance on a wild pitch in the following at-bat. It would not matter, as Vasquez launched a clutch solo homer that wound up being the difference.

Despite Álvarez’s recent struggles, his season stats have not suffered too much. Across both levels of A-ball, the catcher is slashing .275/.396/.541 for a .938 OPS in 280 plate appearances. He has shown great patience in the box with 40 walks and a walk rate of 14.3 percent, which is a tick higher than his career walk rate of 13.2 percent.

“It’s always the same mindset no matter what. I always try to keep a smile on my face. At the end of the day, it’s still a baseball game and I want to go out there and have fun,” said Álvarez. “I always have the same approach, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. You have to keep your head high and not get too down on the failures.”

Álvarez set career highs in both total bases and extra-base hits in a single game with his big performance on Saturday night. As a strong catcher with an advanced offensive profile for his age, Álvarez may find himself rocketing up top prospect lists in the coming seasons. His ability to keep a level head and add positive value to his team while experiencing a slump he had never gone through before shows that Álvarez has the mental qualities of a player who can stick in the big leagues for a long time.

“It’s always helped me to keep my head normal, never too high, never too low. Even if it’s 100 at bats, whatever it is, I’m always trying to keep my head up no matter the struggles, I’m always trying to stay positive,” said Álvarez.