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June 29, 1998

Prospect Focus

Gabe Alvarez and Ruben Rivera

by Dave Pease and Clay Davenport

Here's a look at a couple of prospects who have been turning heads with their solid play over the last month.

Gabe Alvarez, 3B Bats R Born 1974 Age 24

Year Team     Lge  AB  H   DB  TP  HR  BB  R  RBI  SB  CS Out  BA   OBA  SA   EQA 
1995 R Cucmng Cal 208  60   9   1   5  22  32  29   0   0 148 .288 .357 .413 .269
1996 Memphis  Sou 370  84  16   1   8  52  46  37   1   2 288 .227 .322 .341 .230
1997 Mobile   Sou 419 106  18   1  10  39  50  49   1   1 314 .253 .317 .372 .239
1998 Toledo   Int 249  65   9   1  17  26  35  49   2   1 185 .261 .331 .510 .282
Alvarez has showed excellent development this year, easily establishing a career high in HR (and leading all the minors with 20) before Los Tigres called him up. In his first major-league start, he recorded his first major-league two home run game.

This is a nice rags-to-riches prospect story, and the home run stroke he has exhibited thus far is for real. There's an important footnote here, though: Alvarez is a terrible defensive player. He has played at both SS and 3B in the minors, and has been a liability at both positions. If the Tigers can stand his defense, they'll have turned Travis Fryman into a cheap, young, mediocre OBP but plus power player at the hot corner; if not, Alvarez does not have the bat to move any further to the left in the defensive spectrum.

Of course, a trade would be the best solution. If Randy Smith can snooker another club out of a Jeremy Giambi type talent, he'd really look good for it in a couple of years.

Ruben Rivera, OF Bats R Born 1974 Age 24

Year Team     Lge  AB  H   DB  TP  HR  BB  R  RBI  SB  CS Out  BA   OBA  SA   EQA
1993 Oneonta  NYP 208  52   3   1   9  23  26  30   5   3 159 .250 .325 .404 .252
1994 Greensbr SAL 410 112  12   1  22  37  62  72  19   4 302 .273 .333 .468 .278
1995 Norwich  Eas 265  80  15   5  11  33  51  51  12   6 191 .302 .379 .521 .303
1995 Columbus Int 173  44   5   1  13  24  28  35   6   3 132 .254 .345 .520 .288
1996 Columbus Int 357  75  16   2   9  38  38  35  10   7 289 .210 .286 .342 .216
1998 LasVegas PCL 104  13   3   0   2   9   3   2   3   0  91 .125 .195 .212 .112
1998 San Dieg NL   43  13   2   2   2  11  11  10   1   0  30 .302 .444 .581 .345
He started off terribly at Las Vegas this year, but when the Padres were forced to call him up in May because of injuries, he started hitting and hasn't stopped since. Hey, whatever works.

Rivera is something of a forgotten man since his days as a Yankee property, when he was frequently mentioned as one of the game's top prospects. He's struggled with injuries since his trade to San Diego, but he could always hit. The plate discipline he has shown thus far is very encouraging, and, unlike Alvarez, Rivera is a legitimate major league defensive player. He'll be the Padres starting CF by Opening Day next year, at latest, and should stack up well with his counterparts around the league.

Dave Pease is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Dave's other articles. You can contact Dave by clicking here

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