Houston Astros outfielder Yordan Alvarez has been mentioned several times by Minor League Ball community members during our Gameday discussions lately. While Kyle Tucker soaks up attention as Houston’s best outfield prospect, Alvarez is not far behind him and is in fact five months younger. Let’s do a review.
Originally signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2,000,000 in June 2016, Alvarez was traded to the Astros a month later for right-hander Josh Fields. He hit a quick .341/.474/.500 in 44 at-bats in the Dominican Summer League following the trade.
He opened 2017 in Low-A and mashed, hitting .360/.468/.658 in 111 at-bats. Promoted to High-A, he wasn’t terrible with a .277/.329/.393 mark through 224 at-bats, though this was below his Low-A standards.
Alvarez ranked fourth pre-season on the Houston Astros Top 20 prospects list with this commentary:
4) Yordan Alvarez, OF-1B, Grade B+: Age 20, signed by Los Angeles Dodgers out of Cuba in 2015, then traded to Astros; hit .360/.468/.658 in 111 at-bats in Low-A then .277/.329/.393 in 224 at-bats after moving up to High-A; looks like a pure hitter to me, one who makes adjustments well and should provide high batting averages and OBPs; with 6-5, 225 frame more power should come too; doesn’t run well enough to play center field and arm fits best in left but he should be a competent outfield defender and played errorless ball in 26 games at first base; grade assumes more power will come. ETA late 2019.
As you can see, Alvarez still earned a strong prospect grade despite his slippage in High-A. He’s justified that faith by hitting the Double-A Texas League at a .298/.385/.553 clip through 94 at-bats for the Corpus Christi Hooks with 14 walks and 21 strikeouts.
The basics here haven’t changed: he’s big and strong at 6-5, 225, but not just a bruiser. The pure hitting ability has carried forward to Double-A; indeed, his strike zone management has been a bit sharper this year and he’s added more isolated power without sacrificing contact. He can drive the ball effectively to all fields and Texas League observers report that he’s handled both fastballs and breaking balls efficiently.
The Astros are using him in left field this year. He’s not a gold glove with a so-so arm and average range but he’s a competent defender there, certainly playable if he hits enough, which he should.
Overall, I see no reason to change Alvarez’s ranking at this time. He ranked 58th on the pre-season Top 175 prospects list. An updated list could put him somewhere in the 30s. His stock is rising and he could get higher than that as the season progresses.
Here’s some opposite field power: