ATLANTA — Can baseball’s No. 1 prospect move from the minors to the Mets’ playoff roster in the final week of the season?
“Yeah, obviously,” Francisco Alvarez said in Spanish ahead of his major league debut.
Friday’s confident call won’t have much time, especially because Max Fried, whom he faced on Friday, could have been the last opposing left-handed starter the Mets see in the regular season.
Called up for his powerful right bat after the Mets placed Darin Ruf on the IL with a sprained neck, 20-year-old future catcher Alvarez went 0-for-4 in the Mets’ series opener. . , a 5-2 loss to the Braves at Truist Park on Friday night.
Twice Alvarez took hacks so powerful he threw his bat behind him, the second of which was his last shot of the game. The Mets charged in the ninth inning against Atlanta closer Kenley Jansen. Alvarez, who was representing the go-ahead run, three hard punches and punched out.
“It’s super rare for that to happen,” Alvarez said of the batting through translator Alan Suriel. “All this season it’s only happened once.”
All that season, he hadn’t seen a pitcher in the major leagues. The designated hitter seemed happy with the swing in his first big league preview, swinging on the first pitch he saw and went on a double play in the second inning. He added another ground out and a fly out before his ninth-inning strikeout against Jansen.
“Obviously there’s a lot of work to be done,” Alvarez said, “but I feel like I belong here.”
It’s remarkable that Alvarez is here. His minor league season had ended on Wednesday, so he, his parents and a friend packed a car and drove from Syracuse to Miami, where he has family.
Thursday night — on the road about 1 p.m. from central New York, in Greenville, SC — his phone rang. Farm manager Kevin Howard was on the other line to deliver the news the 20-year-old had waited 20 years to receive.
There were tears and hugs and excitement and surprise – but only to a certain extent. The young slugger always felt he was ready for the big leagues.
“I always had hopes of being called up,” Alvarez said. “Because I knew I could come and help the team win.
“I never lost hope.”
He’s not lacking in confidence, but the question will be whether he misses enough chances.
The Mets will face two more right-handed starters against the Braves — with Daniel Vogelbach likely to start at DH — before finishing the regular season at home against the Nationals. Washington is expected to pitch Patrick Corbin — its only left-handed starter — on Sunday, a day before the series begins with the Mets.
Alvarez’s best chance would be to hit so well in limited opportunities against left-handers — his healthy competitor is Mark Vientos, who went 4-for-29 to start his career — that he becomes an option against right-handers. Can the Mets see enough of Alvarez, who has posted an .885 OPS with 27 home runs in 112 minor league games this season, to get a good read on all he can help?
“No,” said manager Buck Showalter. But, “he has the potential to help us. We will see.”
New York Post