Who is Francisco Alvarez? Meet baseball's No. 1 prospect called up by Mets just in time for huge series vs. Braves

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It's been a long wait for Mets fans, but they're finally going to see their top prospect in action.

MLB Pipeline's No. 1 prospect was called up Thursday, 20-year-old catcher Francisco Alvarez. Alvarez enters the fray just in time for the Mets to play their biggest series of the season against the Atlanta Braves.

It's a big show of confidence from New York, but it also underscores the importance of the upcoming series against the Braves. The Mets want all hands on deck to take on the Braves for the NL East, even green ones. With lefty Max Fried on the mound for Atlanta Friday, the Mets may well have wanted him in the lineup as an ace in the hole. Alvarez hit lefties at a clip of .315 for eight of his 27 home runs in Triple A this year.

The Mets have had a few rookies struggle out of the gate this year. Mark Vientos and Brett Baty have been off to slow big league starts. With the Braves leaning heavily on young players -- Michael Harris, Vaughn Grissom, and Spencer Strider (before he was injured) in particular -- the Mets could use some of that magic in Alvarez.

Here's what to know about the top prospect in baseball ahead of his debut.

MORE: Three reasons why Mets-Braves NL East showdown series is so important

Who is Francisco Alvarez?

Alvarez is a 20-year-old catcher who hails from Venezuela. In July of 2018, the Mets signed Alvarez as an international free agent. After he played 2019 in the Appalachian League and the Gulf Coast League, Alvarez missed a year of minor league play because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He has been invited to Mets Spring Training the past two years, and has played one season at each level. Given how quickly the Mets elevated him through the system, it's a bit surprising to see him called up this late in the season. But better late than never.

Make no mistake: Alvarez is coming up for his bat for the time being. New York will still likely rely on James McCann or Tomas Nido behind the plate hitting in the No. 9 spot. But the production from DH simply hasn't been there, and with a lefty on the mound Friday, Daniel Vogelbach simply isn't an option.

If Alvarez can impress early, we could end up seeing a lot more of him heading into October.

Francisco Alvarez stats

So far this season at Triple A, Alvarez is hitting .234/.382/.443 with nine home runs and a strikeout percentage of 26 percent.

Those numbers, however, bely an outstanding September in which Alvarez hit .362/.483/.596 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in just 13 games.

He will look to carry that momentum to the MLB level.

MORE: 'Slow pulse' Braves rookies could be difference-makers in October

Is Francisco Alvarez eligible for Mets' postseason roster?

Although the normal wording of the rule is that players have to be on the 40-man roster on Sep. 1 to be eligible for the playoffs, the Mets will be able to keep him around for the playoffs if he performs.

Because the Mets have a minimum number of injured players, they're able to name Alvarez as a replacement should they choose to go that route.

It will undoubtedly be based on performance, and he could well start as a platoon player. But if he hits Fried well Friday, it could be an early jump start for the Alvarez era.

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Kevin Skiver is a content producer at The Sporting News
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