CHICAGO — Francisco Alvarez has stated his case.
The Mets’ impending roster crunch at the catcher spot has thrust the club’s prized rookie backstop into the spotlight. But his recent play deserves the spotlight as well. Over his last 10 games, the 21-year-old Alvarez has hit .265 with a 1.036 OPS, four home runs and two doubles. He has six homers since he was called up to take the place of Omar Narvaez on the roster April 4.
“He’s turned into a pro on us,” said Mets hitting coach Jeremy Barnes.
It’s not just his play at the plate, his play behind it has improved greatly. His pop times have improved, his framing has improved and he’s done a good job blocking balls in the dirt. Pitchers have liked throwing to him. Last week in Washington, Max Scherzer told him he was happy to have finally earned a win with him.
“I was telling Alvy, ‘I finally got you a good one,’” Scherzer said. “I feel like I can execute and we can finally start getting on a good page together.”
Trying to develop talent in the Major Leagues isn’t ideal and the Mets had previously planned to start him in Triple-A to further that development but they were forced to bring him up after Narvaez strained his calf during the second series of the season in Milwaukee. There were some rough moments.
Alvarez wasn’t the most patient hitter early in the season. He swung at high fastballs and he chased pitches out of the zone. For all of the hype surrounding him and the big numbers he put up in Double-A and Triple-A in 2022, he was relatively inexperienced and it showed.
“People underestimate the jump from Triple-A to the big leagues,” Barnes said. “Low-A to High-A is twice as hard as Double-A. Double-A to Triple-A is twice as hard. The big leagues from Triple-A is like 10 times as hard. It’s just such a big jump. Him Brett Baty and Mark Vientos — with all these guys, they’re so talented but their weaknesses weren’t as exposed as much down there. And that’s not a knock because everyone up here has weaknesses. Once they got up here, it was a little bit of a punch in the mouth. Like sometimes you have quick success and then over time, the [weaknesses] show up. But they were able to point out their flaws pretty quickly.”
But the one thing that stands out about Alvarez is that he’s proactive in wanting to get better. The coaches rave about his work ethic, his determination and the time he spends dedicating himself to working in the cages, working with catching coach Glenn Sherlock in the bullpen and looking at video.
Alvarez went to the hitting coaches right away with an eagerness to put in work and improve. The work may not have paid off right away, as the rookie still hit just .194 over his first 12 games (37 plate appearances), but there was still progress made.
“We had a conversation, and this is …read more
Source:: The Denver Post – Sports