Here’s why the New York Mets called up Francisco Alvarez

The New York Mets are calling up catcher Francisco Alvarez, who is the top-ranked prospect in all of baseball per MLB Pipeline.

The New York Mets are calling up baseball’s top prospect Francisco Alvarez, according to a source familiar with the situation, and he will be activated before Friday’s series against the Atlanta Braves.

Alvarez will have a chance to contribute right away in the biggest series of the year so far for New York. The Mets have a one-game lead on the Braves entering play on Friday. With a series victory, the team from Queens could help ensure an NL East division win, and a guarantee that they won’t have to play in the Wild Card series.

Why did the Mets call up Francisco Alvarez now?

That’s what makes Alvarez’s promotion so interesting. The Mets could have promoted him weeks ago, but instead chose to promote him with six games remaining in the regular season. Why?

Alvarez, 20, initially struggled in Triple-A and has a career-worst 26.1 strikeout percentage. But during a recent 35 at-bat stretch, he hit .371/.421/.686 with a 1.107 OPS, three home runs and 10 RBI, bringing his slashline to .234/.382/.443 with a respectable .825 OPS.

Internally, the Mets had not ruled out calling up Alvarez at some point this season, according to a source. With the Mets’ struggles at DH and against left-handed pitching, they believe Alvarez can provide a late season boost.

Is Alvarez postseason eligible?

Yes.

Here’s how, via the MLB rulebook: “A player who doesn’t meet said criteria for postseason eligibility can still be added to a team’s roster in the postseason via petition to the Commissioner’s Office if the player was in the organization on Aug. 31 and is replacing someone who is on the Injured List and has served the minimum amount of time required for activation.”

Where will Alvarez contribute?

Look for Alvarez to contribute as a designated hitter against left-handed pitchers. Since being acquired from the San Francisco Giants, Darin Ruf is hitting a mediocre .152/.216/.197 with a .413 OPS. Mark Vientos, another one of the team’s top young prospects, is hitting just .143 with a .558 OPS in 33 plate appearances.

Since Aug. 3, the Mets have a .637 OPS against left-handers (24th in baseball) and 84 wRC+ (23rd).

Alvarez will get his first test on Saturday, as he’ll likely DH against Atlanta Braves left-handed ace Max Fried in a critical series that very well could decide the winner of the National League East.