Mets Minor League Mailbag: Timeline predictions for Matt Allan and Francisco Alvarez

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Mets prospect Francisco Alvarez with Oscar Rojas while playing for Brooklyn Cyclones
Mets prospect Francisco Alvarez with Oscar Rojas while playing for Brooklyn Cyclones

SNY contributors Jacob Resnick and Joe DeMayo answer fan questions in this edition of the Mets Minor League Mailbag...

With Matt Allan being sidelined because of Tommy John surgery, do you think his major league debut will be delayed or is he still on track? - @ppereira3174

Jacob: With the caveat being that every pitcher recovers differently from Tommy John surgery, I don’t think Allan’s injury shifts his timeline too much. He’ll be 21 at the start of the 2022 season, still a young age for the level at which his present skills would place him. I don’t expect him to be full-throttle in 2022, so a 2024 debut should be about right if everything goes according to plan.

Joe: I think it does have an impact on his timeline to the major leagues a bit, as now he will be out two full seasons for sure (2020 due to COVID and 2021 due to surgery) and possibly most, if not all of a third season in 2022 while recovering. Had he not gotten injured, Allan would have begun the season in High-A Brooklyn, and if he performed, he could have reached Double-A Binghamton potentially by the end of the season. Then you would be looking at 2022 debuting in Double-A, potentially reaching Triple-A then you are simply a call away. Allan will unfortunately miss most, if not all of that development. With that said, Allan is still a very young player with an incredible competitive drive. I expect him to be back as soon as possible and to Jacob’s point could be in a position for a big league debut around 2024 at 23 years old which lines up perfectly fine.

What’s been your opinion on how the Mets have developed guys over the last few years? I know it’s a new regime, but Sandy’s here. Obviously they’ve seemed to both draft and develop pitchers well. Seems like room for improvement with their position players. - @cashconsidrtion

Jacob: It’s tough to make a blanket statement without having concrete data on the rest of the league, but the Mets’ lack of upper-minors depth has been an issue dating back multiple years now. I give them all the credit in the world for turning guys like Jeff McNeil, Seth Lugo, and of course Jacob deGrom into above-average major leaguers, but there needs to be a continued focus on raising the organization’s development floor. That means getting more draft picks to the upper levels (there were just three on Syracuse’s Opening Day roster — Quinn Brodey, Thomas Szapucki, and David Thompson) and making the Rule 5 roster crunch a difficult task for the organization (they didn’t add a single player to the 40-man roster in 2018 and 2020). Every team has its top prospects, but the depth pieces built from within are what separate the best organizations from the rest (plus, a lot of the “out of nowhere” names you see pop up on the Dodgers and Rays are usually from that depth pool). We’re seeing it now, the lack of depth hasn’t completely blown up in the Mets’ face, but the names on the roster aren’t exactly comforting while the stars miss time with injuries.

Joe: As much fun as the Mets are, winning with the replacement players, it realistically is a bit of an indictment on the overall lack of depth at the upper levels where they have to get players who were designated for assignment and bat them in the heart of the order. Some of that is due to trades by the previous regime moving prospects, but overall they need to do a better job of developing players so they are pulling from a more talented group of players when injury strikes. This means continuing to be aggressive in the draft, perhaps being a little more aggressive in international free agency and taking a different player development approach. The latter is clearly happening, but it is in the early stages and will take years to really come to fruition. Certainly you can look at the bulk of the core of this roster that was drafted or traded for at a very young age and developed to be quality major leaguers. While they definitely can improve, they do show the ability to develop players and I think that will only continue as time goes on. It is clear that ownership is preparing to invest in the minor leagues and player development, and doing so is what will put the Mets in the conversation with teams like the Dodgers as one of the premier clubs in baseball. Spending on free agents is cool, but drafting and developing high end talent is really how you will find that sustainable success that the Mets covet.

How is Mark Vientos coming along and when can we expect to see him in Queens? - @ChrisDAPS

Jacob: Any evaluation of Mark Vientos’ performance this year needs to start with the fact that he’s just 21 years old, or over three years younger than the average Double-A player. It was the same story in Low-A in 2019, and I give him a lot of credit for still managing to be an above-average offensive player despite the hurdles. Looking at his stats thus far, Vientos has an 86 wRC+ (14% below average) through 21 games. Not ideal! But breaking that down, he rebounded from a 37 wRC+ through 10 games to post a 135 wRC+ over his last 11 games (through Saturday). He’s also slashed his strikeout rate by over 16 percent in his last 11 games, indicative of seeing the ball better as of late. He similarly started slow in 2019 and finished strong with a 118 wRC+ over the last two months of the season, so give the young man some time to figure things out. The power is still very real and tantalizing. He’ll be added to the 40-man roster this offseason and will be on the doorstep in Triple-A in 2022.

Joe: The Mets were aggressive in their decision to have Vientos start in Double-A, and at times when you are aggressive, you have to deal with some growing pains -- which Vientos did early on. Jacob has all the stats for you about how he is improving, and the Mets are high on Vientos’s bat where he flashes plus raw power. He needs work on his contact ability and plate discipline overall, but as he continues to mature he should take steps forward there. Defensively he still is playing third base, but it is possible his long-term destination is first base, which would make his fit with the Mets long-term a bit iffy. With that said, he is in Double-A now, and reasonably should be in Triple-A in 2022 which makes him simply a call away. As Jacob noted, he will be added to the 40-man roster this offseason to avoid him being eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 Draft.

Mets prospect Francisco Alvarez at MCU Park in May 2021.
Mets prospect Francisco Alvarez at MCU Park in May 2021.

How does Francisco Alvarez’ quick promotion to High-A adjust his timeline? - @RJPeteQuadsSZN

Jacob: I was pretty surprised to see Alvarez moved up to Brooklyn after just two weeks with St. Lucie. Not that he didn’t deserve it based on how he was playing, but promotions (even for top prospects) usually come with closer to two month’s worth of data. I think it’s a sign that the organization wants to be aggressive with Alvarez, as if he stays healthy he’ll finish this year no further behind than he would have if the 2020 season was played. Not too many other players throughout baseball can say the same. He isn’t Rule 5-eligible until after the 2022 season so I’m confident that we’ll see him at some point in 2023 (contingent, of course, on the Mets’ major league catching situation at the time).

Joe: As Director of Player Development Jeremy Barnes told us on the first episode of Mets Prospective, they want to lean on the side of aggressiveness when it comes to promoting prospects. With that said, like Jacob, I did not expect to see his move up to Brooklyn that quickly. One thing I do hope is that they don’t do too much too fast with Alvarez and give him the opportunity to spend substantial time in Brooklyn where he is a good amount younger than his competition. If he spent the remainder of the minor league season in High-A, I wouldn’t look at that as a bad thing. However, I am confident the Mets have as strong an eye on Alvarez as anyone in the system, and if later this summer he is crushing Brooklyn and they think he is ready for Double-A, I don’t they they would be afraid to do that. As far as making the big leagues, like Jacob, I look at 2023 as very realistic which would have him in his age 21 season as he won’t turn 22 until November of 2023.

In my opinion the Mets need to strengthen their pitching prospects. Do you think they’ll go pitching at number 10 in the draft and do you like Ty Madden out of Texas? - @HookEm1995

Jacob: I’ll defer to Joe, the draft maestro. But while I have you, take the best player available!

Joe: Funny you say that, I actually put out my 2021 MLB Mock Draft 1.0 just a few days ago where I gave the Mets right-handed pitcher Sam Bachman from Miami of Ohio. You want special arm talent? Bachman is what you want. As you mentioned, Ty Madden from Texas is another arm that the Mets could consider at the 10th pick. Right now I still think it is pretty wide open for them as far as what might happen in the first nine picks that can lead them down the road to either a high school bat, college arm or college bat. Ultimately you always will need to add pitching to the system, and I expect the Mets to do so even if not in the first round. They have a recent history of drafting talented arms in the second and third rounds, so don’t get flustered if they don’t draft an arm at No. 10.