Week: 5 G, 17 AB, .412/.524/.706, 7 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 4 BB, 5 K, 0/0 SB (Triple-A)
2022 Season: 110 G, .257/.367/.511, 104 H, 22 2B, 0 3B, 27 HR, 66 BB, 123 K, 0/0 SB, .295 BABIP (Double-A/Triple-A)
After lighting up the Eastern League with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Alvarez’ production plummeted after being promoted to the Syracuse Mets. From July 4, his first game with Syracuse, until August 23, the last day he played before being put on the injured list with an ankle injury, he hit .180/.340/.378 with 6 home runs, 24 walks, and 40 strikeouts. Thanks to the handful of home runs and all the walks he was drawing, the backstop was still at least a productive member of the lineup, but it was a far cry from the .277/.368/.553 batting line he posted with Binghamton prior to the promotion.
Since returning from the injured list, Alvarez has been a man possessed, making up for lost time. In 11 games, Alvarez is hitting .341/.438/.610 with 2 doubles, 3 home runs, and 10 walks to 12 strikeouts. There certainly was an adjustment period after getting promoted, but details are also scarce about Alvarez’ injury, and when it began bothering him and just how much of an impact it was having on his hitting. Hopefully, both issues are now in the rear view mirror. Eleven games is a small enough sample size yes, but at the same time, we know what Alvarez is capable of; there’s a reason he is considered one of the best prospects in all of baseball currently, if not the best, period.
Week: 1 G (1 GS), 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K (Triple-A)
Season: 27 G 25 GS), 127.0 IP, 111 H, 53 R, 50 ER (3.54 ERA), 44 BB, 136 K, .301 BABIP (Double-A/Triple-A/MLB)
This start was Butto’s best this season, with an 83 Game Score. It was the third time he pitched seven innings and second time that he went seven while not allowing a run. Unlike that other start, where he gave up four hits and struck out three Rochester Red Wings, Butto tied a season-high and career-high mark of 11 strikeouts in his outing this past week.
As we saw in his spot start against the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of August, Butto does not have major league quality stuff at this point in his career. His fastball is a solid, league average pitch and his changeup looked good against major league hitters in very limited usages, but that is more-or-less Butto’s entire arsenal. The low-70s-to-low-80s curveball he uses features slight 12-6 break when he has a good feel for it or looser, slurvier break when he does not, and while that’s good enough to get minor league hitters out, it’s not good enough to get major league hitters out as a starting pitcher- as evidenced by seven earned runs in four innings.
With David Peterson and Trevor Williams already having demonstrated throughout the 2022 season that they have the ability to both start games and pitch in relief, and the return of Tylor Megill and Joey Lucchesi from injuries, Butto has moved back down the depth chart. The right-hander should continue making starts for Syracuse in 2023- barring a transformative showing for himself in spring training- but all realistic paths for Butto making an impact as a major leaguer are likely through the bullpen. His biggest weakness, a lack of a solid third pitch to allow him to get through the order multiple times, would instantly be eliminated, allowing him to make the best use of his average fastball, above-average changeup, and above-average command of both.