6’3″ and 235 lbs
Bats: L Throws: R
Drafted: 1st round – 2008 Vanderbilt
Alvarez was the top bat going into the 2008 draft and the Pirates weren’t afraid of the price tag. Alvarez top tool is his plus plus raw power. He crushes fastballs and should be an excellent power hitter at a corner for many years. He’s going to start off as a 3B, but will need to work hard on his conditioning to stay there long term. He could easily handle the move to 1B in the future though and the bat will play up. Let’s take a look at the peripherals to get a deeper look.
Alvarez is no doubt a power hitter first and foremost. Taking a look at his K% you can see that he still has trouble with breaking pitches because his IsoP is elite. So he’s crushing fastballs and doesn’t look like that will slow down any time soon. The bright light is that he actually is willing to draw some walks. When he combines that willingness with a better plan against pitchers he’s going to work into the counts that will get him those fastballs to utilize his elite power.
Let’s take it over to Aaron Bentley for a breakdown of Alvarez’s swing mechanics and take a look at a video:
Alvarez has a pretty standard setup. His arms form the usual chicken wing visual as he holds the bat and moves his elbows and the bat around. His stance is slightly open and his toes tend to point toward each other. The whole setup has a bit of a lazy feel to it.
Pedro’s head stays almost perfectly still while waiting for the pitch, even with the movement in his elbows and bat.
I would like to see Alvarez get his lower half started just slightly earlier. This would help him create more torque, bat speed, and power. Part of the problem is that his open stance, compounded with his toe pointing in, makes him have to go through a fairly long pre-swing movement with his front leg that slows him down, in my opinion.
I already mentioned Alvarez’s stride. I like the drive he gets toward the pitcher but if he started with a less opened stance with his feet even and his toes pointing straight ahead, he could speed it up slightly.
Alvarez could stand to get a little more extension out of his swing. The lazy setup that I talked about includes keeping his front elbow very close to his body. To get to the pitch in time, Alvarez is really unable to get full extension of his arms.
There is some video from the early goings of this season that seem to show Alvarez with a more purposeful setup featuring his arms farther away from his body in the beginning. If so, that could go a long way toward getting better extension and covering the plate better.
The Pirates just made the call to bring up Alvarez and will hand him his 3B spot. So the future is now for Alvarez. He’s going to cut his teeth in Pittsburgh and that may in the long run be the best thing for the organization. It will take him time to make adjustments and a high strikeout total can be expected. But even if he struggles early with the bat, his power will be on display. This is a player that you can one day expect to be a true 30+ HR hitter. Whether his average ever approaches .300 is very much in doubt. But a .275 hitter that pops 30+ per year is very valuable to any team and especially a franchise that has struggled for as long as the Pirates have. The future is getting a little brighter.