The writing was always on the wall, but the New York Mets made it official on Wednesday when they optioned top prospect and catcher Francisco Alvarez to Triple-A Syracuse for the start of the 2023 season.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the 21-year-old, who is ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline, will spend the entire season upstate. The move ensures that he gets consistent playing time to round out the final portions of his game that need a bit more polish.
Alvarez’s bat is deemed MLB-ready given the power it carries and the .885 OPS he posted in the minors last season — although he struggled in spring training by going 3-for-28 (.107). But his defense is believed to be the final aspect that needs work even if he spent an offseason working with MLB veterans Robinson Chirinos and Yadier Molina.
“For a long time, I had questions about catching,” Alvarez said back in January after claiming that he would “100%” be on the Opening Day roster. “Asking Molina, I have taken advantage of getting answers. A lot of questions were about game management and working with a pitching staff… my defense is ready for the Major Leagues.”
The Mets and general manager Billy Eppler quickly pumped the brakes on that mindset. They vowed that Alvarez would not make his way to the major-league roster solely as a designated hitter, which made a path to the big leagues all the more difficult considering the Mets brought on Omar Narvaez to create a platoon alongside Tomas Nido.
“We want to wait for the complete package to be there,” Mets general manager Billy Eppler said last month. “If Francisco is on our club, if he’s on our team, or if he shows up, we want to make sure we can catch him because the long-term trajectory for this young man is to be able to catch.”