Each year, a new crop of players arrives in The Show, and while some won't be able to cut it and others will wind up being serviceable big leaguers, a small handful will head out on the path to superstardom.
Even among top prospects, it's not always a sure thing that they'll pan out to be the stars we hope. For every success story like Bryce Harper, there's a plethora of disappointing cases, like the Philadelphia Phillies' own Scott Kingery, an unfortunate result from such a promising start.
Who are the emerging stars in the NL East that the Phillies need to keep an eye on this year and in the future?
There's plenty of talent in the division, but we're going to narrow the scope down to the youngest, most promising players who have the potential to ascend to the top levels of the league and wreak havoc against the Phillies and the rest of the NL East.
Francisco Alvarez is about as streaky a hitter as they come, but at the end of the day, the young slugger is going to put up big power numbers. The New York Mets' catcher of the present and the future graduated from the minors with 70-grade power and immediately put it to use in the big leagues.
After debuting with five games at the end of 2022, Alvarez, who's still just 22 years old, took over as the Mets' primary backstop last season, playing in 123 games. The youngster might never hit for a high average but could regularly put up 30-home run seasons. In 423 plate appearances in 2023, he hit only .209 but slugged .437, launching 25 homers and driving in 63 runs for an awful New York squad.
When we call him streaky, it's no joke. His 2023 monthly splits are outrageous, with an OPS that rode a rollercoaster all season, from .494 in April to 1.029 in May, and then .534 in June to a .974 mark in July. You get the idea.
Alvarez had himself a game against the Phillies at the end of September last season, hitting two home runs and driving in six.
Okay, both dingers came off Michael Plassmeyer, but you can still see the explosive power stroke.
What makes us think Alvarez is the real deal? He hits the ball hard regularly, according to his Statcast data. The rookie registered a 114.1 mph max exit velocity, in the top nine percent of the league, last year and put up an average exit velocity of 90.1 mph. He barreled the ball 12.8 percent of the time and ran a 45.1 percent hard-hit rate.