Álvarez's promise evident in 2023 debut

Top prospect in baseball collects RBI single in first Mets start of the season

April 9th, 2023

NEW YORK -- Francisco Álvarez finally made his season debut for the Mets on Sunday, and the No. 1 prospect in baseball had his moments.

After two days of waiting following his callup prior to New York's home opener, Álvarez drew the start at catcher for the series finale against Miami at Citi Field.

The highlight of Álvarez's debut: He lined a two-strike, opposite-field RBI single in his first at-bat of 2023, going the other way with an inside-out swing to get the Mets on the board.

"I wanted to make contact," Álvarez said through interpreter Alan Suriel. "I wanted to be able to drive in that run, since we had a runner on third there. I just didn't want to strike out."

The 21-year-old, who got his first big league action at the end of last season (plus one at-bat in the playoffs), finished 1-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in New York's 7-2 loss Sunday

Álvarez looked solid with his pitch framing, catching out of the one-knee stance that he's used to improve his ability to steal strikes at the bottom of the zone. His efforts got the Mets the call on several borderline strikes against Jazz Chisholm Jr. that flustered the Marlins' leadoff hitter and eventually led to him being ejected from the game.

The one blemish on Álvarez's day was his results in the run game. The Marlins went 5-for-5 stealing bases, with Álvarez making a throwing error into center field on the last of those steals.

"I think I could have made better throws," Álvarez said. "That's about it."

Álvarez's defense behind the plate has often been cited as the part of his game that's still developing. And while that was evident at times in his first start of the season, equally evident was his promise in those areas.

Aside from his one airmail, Álvarez really didn't have much of a chance with the Marlins getting big jumps against the Mets' pitchers -- for example, a 41-foot running lead by Jesús Sánchez stealing second off Stephen Nogosek, where Álvarez couldn't even make a throw because Sánchez had nearly reached the base by the time the Mets backstop received the pitch.

"I'm not so sure that they weren't on the pitchers, most of them," manager Buck Showalter said about the stolen bases, adding: "Probably one of the toughest jobs this year compared to last year is [controlling] the running game."

Álvarez actually showed a strong arm on a couple of his throws, including posting a 1.88-second pop time to second base (the MLB average is 2.00 seconds) and a 1.49-second pop time to third.

"You give him a chance, he'll throw out the people he's supposed to throw out," Showalter said.