Francisco Álvarez, ranked as the top overall prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, is about to get one high-pressure cup of coffee.
The New York Mets are reportedly calling up the 20-year-old catcher ahead of their must-win three-game series against the Atlanta Braves and the playoffs, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The 98-58 Mets currently sit one game ahead of the Braves for first place in the NL East with six games total to play.
Per Sherman, the Mets mainly plan for Álvarez to get at-bats as a designated hitter, especially against left-handed pitchers (Álvarez hits right-handed).
It's not often you see a team call up a top prospect this late in the season, but the Mets were apparently desperate as their production from the DH spot simply hasn't been up to snuff. Their .629 OPS from the position ranks 27th in MLB, and that number shrinks to .569 against left-handers.
The Mets tried to address that shortcoming at the trade deadline by acquiring Darin Ruf from the San Francisco Giants, but Ruf has been a disaster since coming to Flushing Meadows, hitting .152/.216/.197 with no homers in 74 plate appearances.
So that left the Mets to turn to their "break glass in case of emergency" option. Fortunately, it's a pretty good option.
Who Is Francisco Álvarez, the Mets' catcher of the future?
Álvarez entered this season as a consensus top 20 prospect and his stock has only risen from there.
Signed for $2.9 million in 2018 as an international free agent, Álvarez hit 277/.368/.553 in 67 games for Double-A Binghamton before earning a promotion to Triple-A Syracuse. Since then, he has hit .234/.382/.443 while being one of the youngest players in the league and playing the sport's most physically demanding position.
Other prospect outlets, such as Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, don't have Álvarez as the game's top overall prospect, but he is universally considered to be top 10. Scouts love his offensive potential, with MLB Pipeline grading his hit tool as an above-average 55 and his power an elite 70.
Ideally, Álvarez would have received more plate appearances in the big leagues before being thrown into the fire (Braves All-Star Max Fried is scheduled to start Friday), but he still seems to be the best right-handed bat available to the Mets.