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Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty among Mets 5 must-watch prospects in Spring Training

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

There’s much excitement around the New York Mets as they begin spring training. Much of that excitement is stirred by a bevy of offseason additions, including reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, Justin Verlander. But there’s reason to be juiced by several of the Mets top prospects, too. We’ll examine who the must-watch prospects are in Mets spring training.

Keith Law ranked the Mets prospect list as 15th best in MLB. It’s a top-heavy group. Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty and Mark Vientos are knocking at the door of the Major Leagues, and Ronny Mauricio is probably a year behind them. Young stud Alex Ramirez was invited to major league spring training, as was the Mets top pick last year, Kevin Parada. They represent the next wave of New York’s best prospects.

That said, let’s dig into who the must-watch prospects are in Mets spring training.

5. Grant Hartwig – P

Hartwig is the No. 22 Mets prospect per MLB Pipeline and ranks 11th among pitchers. He deserves a close look this spring because he very well could be in the majors at some point tis season.

The 25-year-old, who was an undrafted free agent out of Miami (Ohio) in 2021, had an eye-opening first full professional season in 2022. He pitched at four levels, from Single-A St. Lucie to Triple-A Syracuse, and combined for a 1.75 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and .187 batting average against in 39 appearances (56.1 innings). He struck out 83 batters and allowed just one home run.

He only pitched in two games in Triple-A, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares against big league hitters this spring. Expect him to start the season in Syracuse, where he’ll be a phone call away from joining the Mets, a distinct possibility with an organization that is light on quality arms in the upper levels of its system.

4. Ronny Mauricio – SS/3B

The MVP of the Dominican Winter League, Mauricio is the Mets No. 6 prospect. The switch-hitter had his best minor league season in 2022, hitting 26 home runs, stealing 20 bases and driving in 89 runs at Double-A Binghamton. He is an electric player and long been considered an intriguing prospect.

Mauricio still has plenty to work on with his game. He’s a free swinger, undisciplined at the plate and will face a big challenge as a 22-year-old in Triple-A this season. He needs get on base more (.296 OBP last season), strike out less (125 times in 2022) and refine his vast skill set. He may also need to learn a new position with Francisco Lindor set at shortstop for the next decade in Queens.

Spring training will be an opportunity to see how his MVP season in Winter ball carries over and provide a glimpse of what’s in the Mets future, perhaps as early as 2024.

3. Kevin Parada – C

The Mets selected Parada in the first round (No. 11 overall) of the 2022 draft. So, this will be his first big-league camp. And there will be plenty of eyeballs on him, especially after he was ranked as the No. 3 catcher prospect by MLB Pipeline. That gives the Mets two of the top 3 prospects at the position, along with Francisco Alvarez (No. 1).

A standout hitter in college at Georgia Tech, Parada could advance quickly through the system. In 55 plate appearances after being drafted, he slashed .275/.429/.455. He could start the season at Double-A Binghamton, but there’s no reason to rush Parada with Alvarez ahead of him.

One thing to watch this spring is how Parada looks behind the dish, where it’s been reported he still needs work. And it’ll be fun to compare Parada and Alvarez, each of whom is 21, and try to predict who might be the No. 1 Mets catcher in a few years, and who could be the full-time DH.

2. Francisco Alvarez – C

Alvarez is the Mets top prospect and the No. 1 catcher prospect in all of baseball. So, why isn’t he atop our list of must-watch prospects at Mets spring training?

The reason is about splitting hairs with third baseman Brett Baty, really. Baty will be battling Eduardo Escobar for the starting role in Queens, and it’s pretty much a given that Alvarez will begin the season at Triple-A after listening to GM Billy Eppler speak recently.

That said, all eyes will be on the stud catcher from Venezuela, who said a few weeks ago he plans on starting the season in New York. The 21-year-old blitzed through the Mets minor league system and has hit (.274/.384/.526 in three seasons) and hit for power (51 homers the past two seasons) at each level. He was overmatched against the Atlanta Braves in a late September call up to the Mets but there’s zero concern he won’t hit in the bigs.

Alvarez needs to work on his defense, pitch framing and calling of a game, the main reasons why he’s almost assured a ticket back to Syracuse after camp. But the sense is he’ll contribute to the Mets this season. And it starts for him in spring training, when his every move will be analyzed.

1. Brett Baty – 3B

Let’s start with this: it’s highly likely that Baty begins the year in Triple-A. In fact, the 23-year-old has fewer at-bats (22) at the Triple-A level than Alvarez. And with a solid veteran like Escobar on the roster, there’s no reason to rush Baty.

But like Alvarez, expect Baty to contribute this season at the big-league level. And don’t discount him winning the job outright in spring training, which makes him the No. 1 must-watch prospect in camp.

There’s so much to like about Baty, their first-round pick (No. 12 overall) in the 2019 draft. He killed it at Double-A last season (.312/.406/.544) and has filled out physically, making him a power threat now (19 home runs at Binghamton, two in 38 at-bats with the Mets), to go along with a smooth stroke to all fields. Plus, he seems super motivated, undeterred by the fact the Mets nearly signed Carlos Correa for the next dozen years to play his position.

Let’s see how Baty delivers under the spotlight at Mets spring training.

Photo: @AnthonyDiComo

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