Promotion Watch: Pedro Alvarez

With Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg, Mike Stanton, Buster Posey, Neftali Feliz, and Carlos Santana now in the big leagues, just four of Marc’s preseason top ten prospects are left in the minors leagues. In all likelihood, the next mega-prospect to get the call will be Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates, and there are indications that he will join the team as soon as tomorrow.

If you’re reading this site, you’re no doubt familiar with Mr. Alvarez and what he can bring to the table. Baseball America describes him as having “tremendous raw power to all fields” with “good pitch-recognition skills,” but notes “can be caught off balance by breaking balls from lefthanders.” That last part is the biggest concern, because he’ll be playing in a division with Jaime Garcia, Ted Lilly, Manny Parra, Chris Narveson, Wandy Rodriguez, and Randy Wolf. Not exactly an awe-inspiring collection of southpaws, but enough that you’ll need a decent platoon partner.

Alvarez is hitting .280 with a stout .260 ISO in Triple-A this year, which are right in line with his career totals of .286 and .251, respectively. indicates a reverse split in a limited sample this year (1.073 OPS vs. LHP, .869 vs. RHB), but his career totals (.810 OPS vs. LHP, .971 vs. RHP) reflect Baseball America’s scouting report. Alvarez can swing and miss with the best of them, striking out in close to 28% of his minor league plate appearances.

CHONE projected a .231/.299/.400 batting line with 16 HR and 54 RBI in 403 plate appearances before the season, and that seems very reasonable if the Bucs are going to run him out there every day, lefthander or otherwise. If they platoon him, I’d expect something more along the lines of .250/.330/.450, though that’s nothing more than a hunch. I am concerned about all the strikeouts, because bush league strikeout totals do have some predictive value; Chris Davis struck out in close to 27% of his minor league at-bats, for example.

Even if it doesn’t happen tomorrow, the Pirates will inevitably call Alvarez up at some point this month. Pittsburgh has a dreadful offense (team .297 wOBA), so he won’t get much help and the RBI opportunities will be few are far between. The homerun potential alone makes him a worthy fantasy add, even moreso in deeper leagues. You’ll take a bit of a hit in AVG, so make sure you can mitigate at some other spots. Chances are Alvarez will have better trade value than true worth later in the summer based on hype and name recognition alone.

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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.

7 Responses to “Promotion Watch: Pedro Alvarez”

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  1. Johnny Tuttle says:

    Is he going to be someone worth much more in an OBP league? And for point of comparison, would you say he’s more worthwhile than a Smoak for this season?

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    • Mike Axisa says:

      Might not be worth it in an OBP league. Alvarez was never much of a walker in the minors, and that’s not going to suddenly improve in the bigs.

      I’d take Smoak for the rest of the season. Worked the kinks out in April and May and is hitting .319/.439/.532 in his last 57 PA. Not a big sample, but he’s starting to figure it out. Also has a better lineup around him and he plays in a better park, so more RBI opps.

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    • philosofool says:

      If you’re looking for OBP, then Smoak is definitely the guy over Alvarez. Scouts reported that Smoak’s plate discipline was the best of any hitter in the Texas system–including the rangers themselves. He’s close to the top 10 among hitters in the majors in walk % right now. Smoak currently sports a .328 OBP on a .243 BABIP and I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts to show a little more power (i.e. more OBP and BA) than he has recently.

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    • Johnny Tuttle says:

      Thank you, folks. I held Smoak instead of taking Alvarez.

      Someone did take Alvarez and in so doing cut Miguel Montero. I’ve got Soto sitting on my bench; is that a switch to make?

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  2. Josh says:

    Alvarez isn’t Adam Dunn, but he has walked a fair amount in the minors (11-13%).

    I think 230/300/400 is ridiculously low. He’ll have ups and downs but I’d expect his power to translate right away. He hasn’t seen any dip in his production from A+ to AA to AAA so while MLB is a bigger leap, I think he’s up to the task. Even Evan Longoria struck out 27% in over 100 AAA AB’s before striking out 27% in his rookie year at MLB.

    My guess is 260/340/480. 220 ISO seems reasonable right off the bat.

    Interesting to see how it pans out.

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    • spindoctor says:

      The ISO is reasonable, but the OBP is likely optimistic for someone with his profile, at least in season 1.

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  3. Josh says:

    kind of funny. from BA chat on 6/16

    Jim Callis: .260/.340/.480 works for me. He’ll play third base for now.

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