Eliezer Alvarez (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Second baseman Eliezer Alvarez is one of the newest members of the St. Louis Cardinals 40-man roster.

The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 prospect countdown for 2017 continues at #16 with a second baseman who had a very strong year with Peoria. Details for TCN members.

http://www.scout.com/player/158983-eliezer-alvarez?s=321

2016 rank Pos. DOB Signed Round
36 2B 10 15 94 2011 IFA

Selected 2016 stats

Tm AVG BABIP AB R H 2B HR RBI BB SO SB wOBA OBP SLG OPS
Peo 0.323 0.400 433 70 140 36 6 59 53 96 36 0.404 0.404 0.476 0.879

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (16): After finishing at #37 last year, Eliezer Alvarez checked in at #16 during the community vote in 2016. This was exactly where The Cardinal Nation, as a whole, had him here, indicating a pretty nice consensus.

After SoonerinNC mentioned that Alvarez had described as a five-tool player last year, Eliezer followed up well on that in 2016. SoonerinNC noted that Alvarez was named the best defensive second baseman in the Midwest League by Baseball America and he hit more than 30 doubles and had more than 30 stolen bases. Bccran said that Alvarez would give Delvin Perez a run for his money as a top middle infield prospect.

CariocaCardinal voiced some warning, noting that Alvarez had a silly BABIP of .400. BobReed also did not like that Alvarez is somewhat old for the Midwest League from a top prospect perspective. He did say that he has Alvarez as a top 200-type prospect in all of baseball though. CariocaCardinal believes Alvarez will skip class A+ Palm Beach next year, starting right at class AA Springfield, putting him at an a appropriate level for his age. – Jeremy Byrd

 

Derek Shore (21): Another healthy season, another productive campaign for the Cardinals’ overlooked position prospect Eliezer Alvarez, who built upon his breakout 2015 with an even stronger first full season at Low-A Peoria in the Midwest League.

Alvarez, 22, ranked among the Midwest League leaders with a .323 average (fourth), 36 stolen bases (first), 36 doubles (second), a .404 on-base percentage (second) and a .476 slugging percentage (third), finishing his 2016 on the Cardinals 40-man roster.

"Dude's a special guy," Peoria hitting coach Jobel Jimenez said. "This guy has made a big improvement. One of the best hitters in the organization. Actually was one of the best hitters in the Midwest League this year. He is a typical guy that can hit no matter what the pitcher's throwing and who he is facing.

"He is a really good hitter. He has a good idea about the strike zone. He can use the whole field with some pop, and he hits the ball pretty hard. Against lefties, he was one of the best in the league as well. Really interesting guy."

Specifically, Alvarez progressed immensely in the extra-base department, whacking 48 of his 140 hits for two or more bases while maintaining a consistent .300 or higher average throughout the season as Peoria's cog, hitting atop the lineup to set the tone or in the middle to produce runs.

"Productive, athletic guy with some great skills," the Chiefs 2016 manager Joe Kruzel told the Peoria Journal Star, who also named him the team's MVP. "He had a very good year and made an impact."

Headlining the skill-set is Alvarez's hit tool, swinging with a simplified left-handed stroke with average bat speed that produces leverage and strength, giving him average raw power. He has quick hands and strong wrists and rarely gets cheated by a fastball or off balance within his swing. While he is said to have poor plate coverage up and in, Alvarez commands the strike zone and has the ability to square up pitches.

The second baseman made 27 errors last year, but projects as an average defender with fast hands, quick first step, and average-to-above-average arm and accuracy. According to BA, his errors were as a result of "laying back on groundballs instead of charging for the best hop."

The Midwest League consensus on Alvarez was that he could flat out hit. Scouts do not envision a great fielder but believe there is some sneaky pop and he has a chance to be an above-average right-handed hitter. His future defensive home is still a mixed review, though. 

With a bat that plays and a high baseball IQ, Alvarez could be a regular second baseman at the big-league level or a super-utility guy, perhaps expanding his versatility by playing center field with his speed and instincts.

Alvarez will likely open his 2017 at High-A Palm Beach, but an opening assignment at Springfield isn't out of the question.

 

Brian Walton (14): Though it is always possible one of the higher-ranked shortstops could be moved to the position later, here we are honoring our top second base prospect in the Cardinals system.

Despite being on a Peoria team with two prospects yet to appear on this list in Magneuris Sierra and Edmundo Sosa, Alvarez topped them all in performance in 2016. In fact, Alvarez earned the honor of being The Cardinal Nation’s top position player across the entire organization.

Alvarez began the season as the Chiefs’ leadoff hitter, and given his on-base ability, it seemed a great fit. However, when the 21-year-old began to flash impressive bat speed and power, manager Joe Kruzel wanted Alvarez’s power potential in the heart of his lineup – a testament to his versatility.

While Alvarez is not a home run hitter, his doubles total was almost twice that of David Washington and Luke Voit, two of the system’s top sluggers. Further, Alvarez’ 36 stolen bases not only led Midwest League, it was the most of any player in the entire system in 2016. Though his triples total of six seems fairly modest, it was tied for second in the organization, after outfielder Charlie Tilson, who had eight before his trade to the White Sox.

What I saw from Alvarez is a very balanced offensive performance, including hitting for average, getting on base, showing line drive power and stealing bases. The Midwest League mid-season All-Star has been receiving good marks for improved defense as well.

Alvarez’ 2017 opening assignment is an interesting subject. I tend to agree that a jump to Double-A Springfield could be most likely. A longer-shot scenario if the Cardinals want to play it cautious would be to have Alvarez make the one-step to Palm Beach and move our number 41 prospect, Darren Seferina, from Palm Beach to Springfield instead.

Either way, it is clear that Alvarez is ready for his next challenge.

TCN Scouting Grade: 6, Risk: High (click here to review scales)

Our 2017 top 50 series continues

To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 50 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of them are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation. Thank you for being a member!

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