The Atlanta Braves used their fifth-round pick on a late-rising first-year JUCO hitter out of California that has since drawn rave reviews with the glove and shown some promise with the bat during his 30-game showing as a pro. Ignacio Alvarez, who goes by
“Nacho,” is an infielder who split time between short and third during his pro debut, but is a guy most likely to end up as a high-end defender at third base in the future.
Preseason Report Card
Nacho Alvarez wasn’t even on the radar in the preseason. He was quietly entering his first year at a California junior college and not considered to be a prominent draft prospect at that time. A strong showing with the bat, and especially the glove, followed by a good showing in a college summer league All-Star game really brought his stock up by the time the draft rolled around, and the Braves nabbed him in the fifth round.
What we saw in 2022
The first thing people would tell you about Alvarez when talking about him was that his glove at third was that good. In 30 games as a pro — a 15 game stint in the FCL, followed by another 15 games in Augusta — he would back that up to the point he actually made more starts at short in Augusta (ten) than he did at his likely future home of third (five).
As good as the glove is and can be, it was also a strong showing with the bat that got him promoted out of the FCL and into full-season ball. After hitting .279/.392/.419 with a homer in the FCL, he went on to hit .294/.493/.373 in Augusta. That was good for an overall slash line of .287/.451/.394.
The on base and contact skills were certainly there, as evidenced by a .451 total on base mark along with more walks than strikeouts in both the FCL (7-6) and Augusta (19-9). He didn’t show much power, with a total of three doubles, two triples, and one homer over 122 plate appearances, but remember: Alvarez is a 19-year old with just one year of JUCO ball and is still filling in his 6’0”, 190-pound frame at this point. He may never be a feared slugger, but he should still grow into 15-homer-a-year power to go with good on-base ability and very good defense.
The outlook for Alvarez is a little cloudy, considering how well he performed, but also that he will be just turning 20 in April with one year of JUCO ball under his belt, plus the 30-game sample as a pro. I don’t think it would surprise anyone if the team used this spring to decide whether to send him back to Augusta to open 2023, or whether to push him up to Rome. Either way, he likely spends the bulk of the 2023 season in Rome to gain more at bats before he reaches the upper levels of the minors, which is likely to happen in 2024.