Atlanta Braves 2024 season preview: How close is Nacho Alvarez to getting to Atlanta?

The 2022 5th rounder has skyrocketed the Braves prospect rankings, but can Alvarez stick at SS?

Tampa Bay Rays v Atlanta Braves
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In 2022, the Braves drafted Nacho Alvarez Jr. in the 5th round from Riverside City College. 19 months later, having skyrocketed up the Braves prospect rankings, the 21-year-old found himself in the Braves big league Spring Training camp.

Since being drafted, Alvarez Jr. has played 146 games in the minors, with 116 of those games coming in A+ Rome last season. He's slashed .285/.406/.392 in 623 PAs. He hasn't shown a lot of power, but

While he was drafted as a 3B, the Braves moved him to SS, where he's started 117 of his 146 games. He's received positive reviews for his defense at short. Brian Snitker said he might look like a catcher, but his glove has impressed.

What to expect from Nacho Alvarez Jr. in 2024

Alavrez Jr. is currently the Braves 6th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline, with an MLB ETA of 2025.

This Spring, the Braves gave the soon-to-be 21-year-old plenty of opportunity, getting 23 PAs and slashing .263/.391/.316. He did show impressive plate discipline, walking 17% of the time, but he also struck out 34.7% of the time. It is important to note that his K-rate in A+ was a much lower 17.3% last season, and his BB-rate was 13.2%

Braves fans should expect Alvarez to start the season in AA, but depending on how well he performs, shouldn't be suprised if the Braves are aggressive with promoting him.

Alvarez's numbers in Rome are surprisingly similar to Michael Harris II's from 2021, albeit with more walks and less power. Harris II slashed .294/.362/.436 in 420 PAs, which produced a .798 OPS. Alvarez had a .787 OPS in 501 PAs.

There's a remote chance that if Arcia struggles and Alvarez excels in the minors, the California native supplants Arcia as the starting SS later in the season. However, the most likely scenario is that the young SS plays the majority of the season in Mississippi with a potential brief cameo in Gwinnett.