Prospect Primer: National League East
Some prospects are on the verge of stardom, others are entering a crucial phase of their development and others are getting their first tastes of full-season ball. As the 2023 season approaches, MiLB.com goes through each MLB division to take a look at the most intriguing prospects. Other Prospect Primers:
Some prospects are on the verge of stardom, others are entering a crucial phase of their development and others are getting their first tastes of full-season ball. As the 2023 season approaches, MiLB.com goes through each MLB division to take a look at the most intriguing prospects.
Other Prospect Primers:
AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL Central | NL West
Major League-ready: Francisco Álvarez, C, Mets
Álvarez accrued big league service time and took at-bats for the Mets in the final week of the 2022 season, but the 21-year-old catcher is still very much a prospect in the midst of the development process.
As such, the third-ranked prospect in baseball, will open the 2023 season with Triple-A Syracuse and continue to refine his glove to complement his already-electric bat. Though the Mets are comfortable with their incumbent tandem, it doesn’t seem like there will be too many months standing between Álvarez and a consistent role in the Majors.
“There are so many aspects of being a good defensive catcher,” manager Buck Showalter said during Spring Training. “He’s come a long way. Part one of that is having them understand how important it is.”
Álvarez hit .260/.374/.511 with 27 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A last season before his Queens cameo, which included his first Major League roundtripper. In the process of becoming a more well-rounded catcher, he worked with -- and impressed -- stars like Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer during their various rehab assignments over the summer.
“He’s seen these hitters more than I have, so he had different thoughts on certain situations,” Scherzer said at the time. “He made some adjustments along the way. He worked with me pretty well, so I’m excited to see what he can do.”
What Álvarez can do for now is continue his tireless work on a daily basis in Syracuse. It’s something he recognizes as a necessary step in the process, and as the Mets’ only other catcher on the 40-man roster, a move that keeps him just one call away.
“The first thing that came to mind was that I needed to go back down there and work hard and prove myself, so that they can call me back up eventually,” Álvarez said through an interpreter. “I think going down there, it’s going to help me get the reps that I really need, and just get that experience to eventually come back up and succeed.”
Human highlight reel: Eury Pérez, RHP, Marlins
When you watch Pérez, it’s hard to understand how anyone ever hits him.
The right-hander, who will only turn 20 shortly after Opening Day, is one of three pitchers who feature both a fastball and a secondary offering that grades out at 70 or higher on the 20-80 scouting scale. Baltimore’s Grayson Rodriguez and Cleveland’s Daniel Espino are the others, giving Pérez a case for being considered the NL’s top pitching prospect.
If you have the chance, flip on Triple-A Jacksonville’s broadcast when Pérez takes the mound. You’ll get 100-mph fastballs, a wipeout change and a pair of above-average breaking balls to boot. The No. 3 right-handed pitching prospect in the game will be in Miami sooner rather than later.
2025 Shining star: James Wood, OF, Nationals
Wood was arguably the breakout star of the Minors in 2022. What can he do for an encore in 2023 -- and beyond?
The left-handed-hitting slugger had an OPS over 1.000 at Single-A in the Padres system when he was dealt to Washington as part of the package that sent Juan Soto to San Diego. Wood was certainly not the biggest household name among the six players involved at the time, but he’s on a trajectory that should have him there in no time -- if he isn’t already as the No. 17 prospect in baseball.
2028 Faces of the rivalry: Brett Baty, 3B, Mets and Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies
Close your eyes and picture a fierce batter/pitcher matchup in the NL East in the late 2000s or early 2010s. Were you thinking about David Wright and Cole Hamels?
There is another third baseman and ace duo blossoming in the division, even on the same teams as their predecessors. Baty (MLB's No. 21 overall prospect) hit .315 with 19 homers in the upper Minors last year, while Painter (MLB No. 6), at 19, posted a sparkling 1.56 ERA in 22 starts across three levels.
It might be a while before the pair face off in the International League as Painter slowly rehabs from a UCL sprain suffered in Spring Training, but -- like Wright and Hamels, who were each other’s second-most-common opponent during their careers -- these young stars should see plenty of one another for years to come.
Back and healthy: Spencer Schwellenbach, RHP, Braves
Schwellenbach was a two-way star at Nebraska in 2021, recording an 0.87 ERA in 31 2/3 innings on the mound and an .862 OPS in 48 games at the plate while playing shortstop. Atlanta took him in the second round of the Draft that year, but he’s yet to make his professional debut after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Now healthy, Schwellenbach ranks as the club’s No. 7 prospect and should be ready to go on Opening Day. He will focus on his pitching, with electric stuff pre-injury and fewer miles on his arm than the typical 22-year-old.
Jacob Resnick is a contributor for MiLB.com.