Is Braves highly ranked prospect Nacho Alvarez pushing for a promotion?

The Braves #6 prospect looks like a near guarantee for successful major leaguer
Tampa Bay Rays v Atlanta Braves
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Nacho Alvarez background

It was not that long ago that Ignacio, nicknamed Nacho, Alvarez considered quitting baseball. As did most college players, when COVID hit in 2020 it put a serious strain on the current state of college athletics. Luckily for the Braves, Nacho decided continue on with the sport he loved over at Riverside City College (a random note about RCC - it is the same college that Jesse Chavez went to).

In his final year in college Nacho hit .370/.494/.582 and put himself on the map for the 2022 MLB draft where he was selected in the 5th round and was the overall 155th pick of the draft and signed for $497K. Side note, that 2022 draft is looking really good - the first 9 picks all sit in the Braves top 30 outside of Cole Phillips who was used in the trade to acquire Braves left fielder Jarred Kelenic.

Nacho Alvarez scouting report

On the field there is a significant amount to really like about what Nacho Alvarez brings to a team. Nacho possesses fantastic footwork, and a great arm, that allows him to be a premium defender both at shortstop and third base. He has a great first step that allows him to get to a lot of balls that your average fielder can't get to, and again with that arm, he's capable of getting more outs than your average fielder.

All that being said, Nacho has primarily played shortstop since being drafted and there's no reason to believe the Braves will move him off from there because of the reasons listed above.

As for what Nacho can do with the bat in his hand - it's safe to say he has one of the best approaches at the plate that the Braves have in their entire minor league system. Nacho's knowledge of the strikezone and his ability to read pitches are premium tools in his arsenal and is something not many hitters have, especially at his age.

Nacho has great ball to bat skills, said another way, he has a great ability to simply make contact with the ball when it is in the zone. His knowledge of the zone is evident in his walk rate - he has never walked less than 13%, and right now has a 16% walk rate in 2024. Nacho Alvarez WILL get on base. The only mark against Nacho is his perceived power.

His swing at the plate doesn't allow for a lot of backspin, so the ball doesn't jump off his bat, and he goes the opposite way a lot (43% in 2024) which also takes away in game power. Those qualities, along with his declining fly ball rate (23.5% in 2024) paint the picture of a more slap style hitter that gets on base at an elite level.

What Nacho Alvarez has done in 2024

Nacho has done exactly what you expect him to do. Through 24 games at Double-A Mississippi, Nacho has hit .279/.398/.314 with a 16.5% walk rate, and 17.5% strikeout rate. He is also a perfect 10-for-10 in stolen bases - providing additional value for a player that hasn't hit for much power. Of his 24 hits, only three have been extra-base hits (12%), so the work on the basepads has added additional value to his offensive portfolio.

What's next for Nacho Alvarez?

There are no more questions when it comes to approach at the plate, or defense on the field - the next question for Nacho is will he start to hit for more power? His .035 ISO (slugging percentage minus on-base percentage) is extremely low, but because of his near .400 on-base percentage he still has a 125 wRC+. Should Nacho change his approach, slightly, looking to pull the ball a bit more some of those singles may turn into doubles and suddenly you have a top of the lineup kind of player that provides a ton of value on the defensive side.

What can we expect from Nacho Alvarez?

Barring injury, the route to the majors for Nacho is just a little tough with the Braves being set at most positions. Orlando Arcia is currently under contract through the 2025 season, along with an option in 2026, however should there be any significant injury to one of Ozzie, Orlando, or Austin next season, Nacho has a real shot at taking over any of those positions.

Come 2026, Nacho Alvarez is definitely the player well positioned to take over Orlando Arcia. Once up, he will provide great defense while getting on-base on a very high clip making him a very important cog in the Braves machine. As for now, expect Nacho to get a long look down in Mississippi.

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