Big League Debut: Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros

Every year there’s an uber prospect who so forcefully destroys the minor leagues that he surpasses all expectations and has everyone clamoring for a promotion. With Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Eloy Jimenez both debuting early, everyone shifted to Astros outfielder Yordan Alvarez.

What the 21-year-old has done in Triple-A this year is staggering. He leads minor league baseball in home runs (23), RBI (71) and perhaps not surprisingly IBB (11). He has a 50/38 K/BB (excluding the IBB) and is hitting a robust .343/.443/.742. Damn.

The Rankings

Alvarez ranked 37th in our Top 100, 21st in our Fantasy Top 100 and third in the Astros Top 30.

The Tools

Defense (40 Field/40 Arm): The Astros have hid Alvarez in left field for the majority of the year but he’s also gotten some first base reps. He’s the quintessential bat first prospect as his hulking 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame (and I think that listed weight is light) hinders his defensive prowess. The Crawford boxes will help him patrol one of the smaller left fields in baseball, so he has that going for him. Houston’s playing time decisions are always hard to gauge, but I’d expect him to bounce around LF, 1B and DH in the early going with everyday AB.

Hit (50 present/60 future): Alvarez’s hit tool has taken a step forward this year. His .343 AVG, while slightly BABIP aided, is a result of his plan at the plate. He’s not a pull-only masher. In fact, his 32/30/38 split is his least reliant to the pull side in his minor league career. His bat head stays long in the zone allowing him to utilize left field and evade shifts. His walk rate and strikeout rate are trending in the right direction, too. In his Top 30 post, Ralph Lifshitz mentioned that down and in is his weak spot, which makes sense for someone so large. I haven’t seen Alvarez live nor do I have access to heat maps so I can’t confirm whether he’s righted this or not. But rest assured teams will avoid leaving him anything on the outer half of the plate where he can get extended.

Power (60 present/70 raw): I can’t help but think of San Diego OF Franmil Reyes. Alvarez’s BP sessions and home runs share a similar quality to Reyes where he doesn’t seem to be exuding much effort yet the ball continues to carry out of the park. That’s a testament to Alvarez’s ability to consistently barrel the ball. The new ball has certainly helped his numbers but now instead of a 30 home run hitter, we could see 40 home runs in his best years. His bombs routinely surpass 400 feet. This is a big boy stick through and through and he’s immediately going to cause damage.

Speed (40 present/35 future): He has enough speed to look presentable in left field. Don’t expect him to use any of it on the basepaths.

Prediction: There are two elite bats left in the majors that could debut and they’re teammates. Alvarez and Kyle Tucker form the future core of the next great Astros superstars. Alvarez shouldn’t have any trouble hitting 15 home runs with something like a .265/.340/.480 line the rest of the way. While Carlos Correa, George Springer and Jose Altuve remain out, Alvarez will get everyday at-bats. When they all return, things get a little murkier. But if he’s hitting well enough, they’ll find a spot for him. In fantasy he should be long gone in every single league. If you’re going to enter a FAAB period where you can bid, you’ll need to bid no less than 40 percent of the starting FAAB to land him.