Welcome to the Show: Mets to call up Francisco Álvarez ahead of Atlanta showdown
New York is reportedly calling up the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball.
Ho. Lee. Cow.
Ahead of their big-time showdown in Atlanta starting on Friday night, the Mets have made a surprising and aggressive move as they’re set to call up top prospect Francisco Álvarez.
The news of Álvarez’s promotion was first reported by El Extrabase.
This news comes as a major surprise, as the Mets were not expected to call up their prized prospect this season with only six games remaining. But in the heat of a pennant race and on the eve of an NL East deciding series against the Braves, this organization has decided to push their chips to the center of the table.
Álvarez, 20, is not only the top prospect in the Mets organization but is also the No. 1 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com’s rankings. In 112 games this season split between Double-A and Triple-A, the young catcher hit .260/.374/.511 with 27 home runs, 22 doubles, 78 RBI, 74 runs scored and an .885 OPS.
While he did struggle initially after his promotion to Triple-A Syracuse, Álvarez recovered nicely and hit .259/.394/.496 with nine home runs, five doubles, 28 RBI and 27 runs scored with an .890 OPS over his final 37 games of the season.
This is the third time this season that the Mets have called up a prospect in their Top 10, as Brett Baty and Mark Vientos each made their major league debuts over the last two months. While it hasn’t worked out in the short-term for either of those two youngsters — Baty suffered an injury knocking him out of the regular season while Vientos is off to a slow start in a small sample size — the Mets are clearly banking on Álvarez providing a last-minute jolt to this lineup.
While the Mets have gotten extremely little out of the catching position this season, Tomás Nido has essentially wrestled the starting job away from James McCann and probably won’t actually be getting replaced here, as he’s hitting .291/.321/.456 over his last 34 games dating back to July 24th and is also extremely familiar with this pitching staff. I find it hard to believe that this organization would think it’s wise to shake up their battery this late in the season, especially with a 20-year-old rookie catcher who probably isn’t 100 percent ready to catch an MLB staff.
No, instead, I believe the Mets may be making one last effort to get something from their designated hitters, specifically from the right side. Darin Ruf was acquired by this team to his lefties, but instead he’s hit no one as his 20 OPS+ since coming to New York has deemed him to be unplayable. And while you can’t blame Vientos, another kid who’s just 28 at-bats into his big league career, he hasn’t looked as if he’s quite ready to contribute at this level with a .558 OPS over his first stint with the club.
At this point, barring any surprise injuries, the logical corresponding roster move here would be for the Mets to release Ruf outright. Álvarez is not currently on the Mets 40-man roster, so optioning Vientos to the minor leagues wouldn’t allow them to promote him unless they made an additional move like DFA’ing Michael Pérez.
While it’s certainly a gamble, the Mets really have nothing to lose giving their incredibly talented top prospect a shot here, especially if he’s only going to be taking at-bats away from a pair of players that isn’t hitting right now at the DH position. Oh, and by the way, the answer is yes — Álvarez is postseason eligible.
So here we are, your major league debut in the heat of a pennant race against the defending World Champion Atlanta Braves, on the road, with your club holding a one-game lead in the division. Welcome to the show, kid.