Scout's View: Pedro Alvarez
Pedro Alvarez is no longer a prospect, but he's not exactly an established big leaguer either.
With a .050/.050/.200 line with 12 strikeouts in his first 20 at-bats this season, Alvarez hasn't shown signs that last year's .191/.272/.289 stat line is an aberration. With that in mind, we asked a scout who saw him in spring training this year if he had an explanation for Alvarez's struggles.
As you probably remember, Alvarez was the second overall pick by the Pirates in the 2008 draft, and his signing was the subject of a grievance that ultimately was settled, with Alvarez signing a major league contract that included a $6 million bonus. Coming out of Vanderbilt, Alvarez was known for his quick hands and bat speed. This scout, who works for an American League club, did not see the same tools four years later:
"He was terrible. I was shocked how bad he looks. He's a different guy right now. He won't hit Triple-A pitching right now. He looks bad physically and the swing looks bad," the scout said.
When Alvarez was playing at Vanderbilt, the biggest and sometimes it seemed the only significant knock on him was that he had a tendency to gain weight, which might force him to move off third base. Apparently, weight gain has started to cause problems at the plate as well.
"He's about 25 pounds heavier in the wrong areas, which means he has to start his hands sooner," the scout said. "He used to be able to wait (on pitches)."
Because he doesn't have the same hand speed, Alvarez is more susceptible to being caught ahead of offspeed stuff, and he's still struggling to catch up to good fastballs. The scout said that he really liked Alvarez coming out of college and is dismayed to see him now.
"I hope I'm wrong, but if you didn't know he was Pedro Alvarez, you'd NP him," the scout said, using scouting shorthand for labeling a player as No Prospect.