Mets Minors: Record IFA Signee Leads Catcher Prospects

Francisco Alvarez/Photo by Baseball America

With Tomas Nido surpassing his rookie limits in 2018, he has officially graduated from prospect status. Nido is now the former number one catching prospect leaving room for other prospects to rise up the rankings. The prospects in the updated list feature a number of defensively skilled players and some with real offensive potential.

No. 5 Patrick Mazeika

Age: October 14, 1993 (25)     Bats/Throws: L/R     Level: Binghamton
Acquired: Mets 2015 Eighth Round Draft Pick (Stetson University)
Stats: .231/.328/.363, 12 2B, 9 HR, 39 RBI

Entering this season, Mazeika had a reputation as an offensive minded catcher who needed to improve defensively to stick at the position. His efforts were made all the more difficult this year as he opened the season as the backup to the aforementioned Nido partially because the organization wanted to play Jose Lobaton everyday in Las Vegas.

With respect to his defense, reports are Mazeika improved in a number of areas defensively. He would tie a career best by throwing out 32 percent of base stealers.

Unfortunately, Mazeika regressed offensively. After posting an OBP of at least .389 in each of his first three seasons, Mazeika’s OBP dropped to .328. This is partially due to his BABIP cratering to .233. With him not hitting for much power, Mazeika needs to get on base in order to be an offensively productive player.

Considering Mazeika’s past level of production, we should expect his BABIP to stabilize, and accordingly, we should see him become a much more productive offensive player. That is if he gets the opportunity because he could very well enter next season once again serving as Nido’s backup.

No. 4 Scott Manea

Age: December 21, 1995 (22)     Bats/Throws: R/R     Level: Columbia
Acquired: Signed as undrafted free agent (7/28/2016)
Stats: .261/.368/.432, 23 2B, 12 HR, 53 RBI

In short order, Manea has gone from an undrafted free agent who was probably little more than organization depth to a catcher who may have a real future in the Mets organization. The main reason why is Manea found his power stroke.

Entering this season, Manea showed a good eye who did not hit the ball with much authority. In 2017, he had a .054 ISO and .277 SLG. In fact, he only had one homer and just five extra base hits total. He would surpass his career home run total by April 21, and he would surpass his career extra base hit total by May 6. Among South Atlantic League catchers, he was second in OPS and third in doubles, homers, RBI, SLG.

Behind the plate, Manea made strides. He allowed the same amount of passed balls as he did last season, but he did that while playing in more than double the amount of games. Additionally, he went from throwing out 24 percent of base stealers to 38 percent.

All told, Manea has gotten noticed. In fact, before leaving the Mets organization, J.P Riccardi would say to Mike Puma of Baseball America, “He has got a chance to be something. He has opened up some eyes this year. He has got power and a pretty good idea of what he is doing behind the plate.”

No. 3 Juan Uriarte

Age: September 17, 1997 (21)     Bats/Throws: R/R     Level: Brooklyn
Acquired: Signed as International Free Agent from Mexico (7/4/2014)
2017 Stats (Kingsport): .305/.372/.455, 13 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 36 RBI

After coming off a strong performance in Kingsport, Uriarte fouled a ball off his leg in his only at-bat of the season. As a result, Uriarte lost a full minor league season. Fortunately, Uriarte has been healthy enough to participate in the Mexican Winter Leagues, which would indicate his leg is fully healed and that he will be ready to build off of his strong 2017 season.

When healthy, Uriarte is impressive on both offense and defense. Uriarte has true power potential with good bat-to-ball skills. Behind the plate, Uriarte has received praise from both his glove and arm. Overall, he has the ability to contribute offensively and defensively, and he has a solid foundation to make significant strides forward next season.

No. 2 Ali Sanchez

Age: January 20, 1997 (21)     Bats/Throws: R/R     Level: Columbia & St. Lucie
Acquired: Signed as International Free Agent from Venezuela (7/2/2013)
Stats: .265/.294/.387, 20 2B, 3B, 6 HR, 38 RBI, 2 SB, 2 CS

Sanchez is a strong defensive catcher who handles pitching staff well, frames well, and has the ability to control the running game. During the Arizona Fall League, he was very tough to run against. The highlight to the season was a game where he caught all three runners who attempted a stolen base. As noted by Kyle Glasser of Baseball Americanot only did Sanchez nail the runners, but all of his throws were right at the glove.

With the Sanchez, the defense has never been an issue. With him, it has been health and offense. The bright side is that after two years where he had season ending hand injuries, Sanchez was healthy for all of 2018. In fact, he was healthy enough to play in the AFL in addition to his being the starting catcher for both Columbia and St. Lucie during the regular season. This was a significant step in the right direction.

Maybe it was the hand injuries still having a lingering effect or a result of the missed games over the past two years, but Sanchez did not have the type of offensive season one might have hoped. While Sanchez possesses raw power and good contact ability, he has yet to have that translate into games. Maybe another year away from hand surgery and with him having a full offseason to prepare, we will see him finally put everything together.

No. 1 Francisco Alvarez

Age: November 19, 2001 (17)      B/T: R/R    Level: N/A
Acquired: Signed as International Free Agent from Venezuela ($2.7 million bonus)
2018 Stats: N/A

In recent years, the Mets have been aggressive in pursuing the top end talent during international free agency. As a result, they keep setting new records for highest bonus ever given to a player. First, it was Amed Rosario.  Next, it was Ronny Mauricio.  Now, it’s Alvarez.

Alvarez received the bonus mostly because he can hit. He not only has raw power, but he has power the opposite way, which is all the more remarkable when you consider he is just 17 years old. With respect to the power, he has shown an ability to hit not just in games but also against older competition. Overall, he could very well be one of the most potentially impactful power bats in the entire Mets organization.

The question for Alvarez is his work behind the plate. While he does have the agility, he does need to work on his footwork and movement behind the plate. On the positive side, he has shown good pop times and a strong arm behind the plate. While there are some who are mixed on his ability to stick at the position, Alvarez certainly has the skill set to become a good catcher behind the plate. All he needs is time to develop.

About Michael Mayer 1199 Articles
Lifelong Mets fan born in 1987 meaning I still haven't witnessed a championship. Lived in Maine my entire life so I get my Mets fix from MLB.tv and MiLB.tv. Still playing and coaching baseball.Follow me on twitter @mikemayermmo