Hartford Courant

Prospect Alvarez optioned to Triple-a Syracuse

- By Abbey Mastracco

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Francisco Alvarez will start the season in Syracuse.

The Mets optioned their top overall prospect to Triple-a on Wednesday morning as well as sent catcher Nick Meyer to minor league camp. Brett Baty, the club’s second-ranked prospect, remains in Major League camp to compete for a spot on the Mets’ Opening Day roster.

The 21-year-old catcher showed flashes of the power tool he has long been known for but he didn’t exactly put up monster numbers in Grapefruit League play, going 3-for-28 (.107) with two walks, one RBI and 10 strikeouts. He hit no home runs.

After undergoing surgery on his right ankle in October, Alvarez was worked into Grapefruit League games somewhat slowly, but playing time behind the plate opened up for him when Omar Narvaez left for the

World Baseball Classic. Now that Narvaez is back in camp, the Mets want him to catch their regulars for the rest of the week.

There was some offseason speculatio­n that Alvarez would be used as a DH this season in the Major Leagues, but the Mets didn’t want to neglect the defensive side of his game. The club feels it’s important for all of their prospects to be defensivel­y sound before playing in the big leagues, but it’s especially important for Alvarez.

Although the Mets have seen some improvemen­ts to his pitch framing, ultimately this move means the organizati­on wants him to continue to improve in Triple-a.

Starting the season in the minor leagues where he will catch every day will help him build confidence. Spring training sometimes often serves as a way for teams to gauge the progress of top prospects and Alvarez, who had a brief big league stint last fall, doesn’t appear ready quite yet.

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