The second overall pick in the 2008 Draft struck out looking in the first inning and went down swinging two frames later. But even after Alvarez grounded out in the fifth, the Pirates top prospect kept his cool.
"One of the things I've learned the most here [in the Minors] is there's a lot of game left," he said. "And you can always keep your head up."
So it was a composed Alvarez who strolled to the plate in the sixth before blasting a pitch from Chen Lee for a grand slam over the center field fence. He followed that with a three-run blast in the ninth off Travis Turek.
When the dust settled, Alvarez had driven in a career-high seven runs to power the first-place Lynchburg Hillcats to a 16-5 rout of the Kinston Indians.
"In my first couple at-bats, the outcome wasn't as good as I wanted," Alvarez admitted. "I kept my head up and tried to put a good swing on a good pitch."
In between the long balls, Alvarez drew an eighth-inning walk and scored on Kris Watts' fourth homer of the season. Seven of Lynchburg's 12 hits went for extra bases.
"We definitely feed off each other when we are doing well," Alvarez said. "A night like this always helps, no matter how good or how poorly you may be doing.
"I think the one thing I've done all year is keep my confidence up. ... A lot of guys struggle at times and I notice from a lot of [my teammates] that they don't let it bother them."
Selected right behind Tampa Bay's Tim Beckham in last year's Draft, Alvarez did not sign with the Pirates until Sept. 24. In his first professional season, the Vanderbilt University product is hitting .241 with 12 homers and 49 RBIs in 58 games. He also has 12 doubles, a triple and has scored 33 runs for the first-place Hillcats (40-20).
As for the three runs he scored Saturday, Alvarez doesn't have a magic formula or newfound approach at the plate. Instead, the highly touted prospect tries to keep things simple.
"I try not to do too much up there," he said. "I try to go up there and have good at-bats and to control what I can control. If it's out of my reach, I don't worry about that.
"You can't control [what will happen]. You can control how you go about it."
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.