Week: 5 G, 19 AB, .368/.556/.632, 7 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 5 BB, 4 K, 1/2 SB, .429 BABIP
2021 Season: 15 G, 48 AB, .417/.567/.646, 20 H, 5 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 15 BB, 7 K, 2/4 SB, .450 BABIP
Inking the most expensive international free agent deal in team history- $2.7 million, breaking Ronny Mauricio’s then-record of $2.1 million signing- on July 2, 2018, Francisco Alvarez has had lofty expectations placed on him ever since signing with the Mets. Despite that, the young catcher has stepped up and even outperformed those expectations every single time.
At the time of his signing, he was considered a power-over-average player, and while not a poor defender, there was a lot to work on. In the years since, the young Venezuelan has showed the ability to hit for average, the ability to hit for power, and has shown above-average defensive abilities behind the plate, causing him to rocket up Mets top prospect lists and national prospect lists.
Initially assigned to the GCL Mets when their season began in 2019, it quickly became apparent that playing in the league would not challenge him, as the 17-year-old hit .462/.548/.846 with 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 4 walks and 4 strikeouts in 7 games. He was promoted to the Kingsport Mets for the rest of the season and hit .282/.377/.443 with 6 doubles, 5 home runs, 17 walks and 33 strikeouts in 35 games. COVID-19 cancelled the 2020 season, but Alvarez got to rub elbows with other top prospects and major leaguers at the Alternate Site at MCU Park in Coney Island that summer, and then again during the instructional league in the fall.
When the 2021 season began, he was assigned to the Low-A St. Lucie Mets- a conservative assignment, by far- but once again, it quickly became apparent that he was better than the competition he was facing. In 15 games, he hit 417/.567/.646 with 5 doubles, 2 home runs, 15 walks, and 7 strikeouts. Just as the organization had quickly determined that the backstop had very little to gain by facing inferior competition, the Mets just announced that he will be promoted to the High-A Brooklyn Cyclones, and making his debut there tonight. At 19, he was one of the youngest players in the Low-A Southeast, and will be the youngest player in the High-A East.
Alvarez has a very advanced approach at the plate for someone so young. He stands with a wide base, holding the bat high and barring it behind his head. He swings using a toe tap mechanism, generating power from his stocky body and above-average bat speed. The swing itself is loose and flows, and the ball really jumps off his bat when he makes solid contact. His frame is unlikely to fill in much more, but he will likely add more power in the future thanks to refinements in his swing and an improved eye- and as it is, he already a good eye and a fairly patient approach, recognizing spin well and displaying a good sense of the strike zone.
Behind the plate, the stocky 5’11”, 220-lbs. Venezuelan is deceptively mobile. In the future, his weight may need effort to maintain, but for now, it should be no issue. He is adept at framing and blocking pitches. His arm is above-average, as are his pop times, release and accuracy. He handles his pitchers well and has the poise of a veteran despite being so young. An energetic presence on the field and in the clubhouse, Alvarez is also tough as nails, not letting the beating that he takes behind the plate keep him off the field for long.
Week: 2 G (0 GS), 6.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER (0.00 ERA), 2 BB, 6 K, .222 BABIP
2021 Season: 5 G (0 GS), 11.2 IP, 13 H, 14 R, 12 ER (9.26 ERA), 11 BB, 14 K, .353 BABIP
Originally born in Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic, Franklin Parra moved to the United States with his family when he was still in grade school. He did not start playing baseball well into his teens, where he eventually emerged as the ace of the pitching staff at Copiague High School in Suffolk, Long Island. In his final season there, he went 2-3 on a team that finished 4-16, and struck out 74 batters in 34 innings pitched.
Committed to playing at San Jacinto College, a community college in Pasadena, Texas, Parra’s life took a turn when the Mets selected him in the 11th round of the 2018 MLB Draft. He had a strong feeling he would be drafted but did not know that he would be selected by his “hometown” team- though he would have preferred the Yankees. He wanted to sign with whatever professional team selected him, and the two sides eventually agreed to a $150,000 signing bonus- not technically overslot, since picks 11-40 did not have assigned slot values, but over the $125,000 allowable that would not tap into the team’s draft pool- and the left-hander became a professional.
Assigned to the GCL Mets, the 18-year-old pitched was used sparingly over the rest of the 2018 season. He appeared in 6 more games that year and pitched 10 innings, allowing 1 earned run on 5 hits, walking 11 and striking out 10. His 2019 season was much of the game: he appeared in 10 games for them that year, allowing 6 earned runs on 10 hits, walking 16 and striking out 29. After missing the 2020 season because of COVID-19, he was promoted to the Low-A St. Lucie Mets.
We will get a better sense of how Parra’s stuff has developed since he got drafted as the 2021 season goes on. Between the limited innings he threw in the GCL and the cancellation of the 2020 season, a lot of time has passed since the southpaw’s pre-draft scouting reports. At the time, his fastball sat in the high-80s-to-low-90s, ranging from 88 to 93 MPH. His breaking ball was not very well defined, fluctuating between a high-70s curve and a low-80s slider, and the development of this pitch into one or the other- or both- will have major ramifications on his future. He also threw a changeup, but like the breaking ball, it, too, was firm and unpolished, and development on that pitch will be important as well.
Standing 6’1” and weighing 200 pounds, the left-hander has a solid pitching frame. Throwing from a three-quarters arm slot with a long arm action through the back, he utilizes a big leg lift. In his brief professional career, he has struggled with his control.
Players of the Week 2021
Week One (May 4-May 8): Francisco Alvarez/Tylor Megill
Week Two (May 9-May 15): Antoine Duplantis/Tylor Megill