Yordan Alvarez: A Glove Story
Yordan Alvarez’s mere presence in the batter’s box is eye-raising. He stands all of 6-foot-5 and weighs nearly 230 pounds and is the sort of bruising lefthanded power bat the Astros have not had at the major league level of late.
Houston added Michael Brantley this offseason and expects a rebound season from Josh Reddick. Both are under team control for two more seasons. Alvarez represents the most obvious answer to the lefthanded void their departures could leave.
"He’s hitter-ish, if that’s a word,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Because of the presence he has and his setup, he’s a big boy in the box, he has a plan and he’s been able to execute it early in camp.”
Alvarez’s first exposure big league spring training has afforded Hinch and his field staff a multifaceted view of the 22-year-old. He has hit missiles both foul and fair, reaffirming his otherworldly exit velocity numbers that the organization reveres.
Drawing five walks and striking out four times in his first 10 games in the Grapefruit League impressed Hinch, too.
"He’s got great presence in the batter’s box. He controls his body in the batter’s box pretty well and he takes some really big swings,” Hinch said. "He hits the ball hard, draws a fair share of walks. He’s been very disciplined at the plate, which I’ve liked, and his timing seems good.”
Where Alvarez fits defensively remains to be seen. He has toiled mostly at first base and left field. Asked at the Winter Meetings for Alvarez’s ideal defensive position, general manager Jeff Luhnow joked "designated hitter.”
Hinch prefers to divvy DH duties more than most managers. Five players got more than six starts there last season, underscoring Hinch's desire to build a versatile roster.
That means that in order for Alvarez, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba in 2016, is to break through this season, he must find consistency somewhere as a serviceable defender.
That puts pressure on Alvarez to develop his defensive chops, while continuing the impressive plate presence he’s already displayed.