Happy Friday, everyone! We get our first taste of playoff baseball atmosphere tonight -- no it's not actually the playoffs -- but Braves vs. Mets is as close to it as can be. These teams are playing for high stakes as far as how their playoff blueprint will map out. And that's important. We'll be on the lookout for that, Aaron Judge's chase for another homer and a lot more on the last Friday slate of the regular season.

We'll dive into some of the key action from Thursday, but first, make sure you're all caught up on everything Scott White is cooking up over at CBSSports.com/Fantasy. Scott is already getting started on his 2023 rankings pieces and he has kicked things off with his top-20 catcher rankings. It's always a fun read to check out rankings this early, but I also always find it helpful to keep my mind sharp and get an idea of which players to follow throughout the offseason.

Scott is bullish on Adley Rutschman and has him ranked No. 4: "It took him a couple months to get acclimated, but once the rookie began walking like he did in the minors (say, July 1 on), he was about an .850 OPS guy, which would be good enough to lead the position most years. The power only figures to improve, and the Orioles have already shown a willingness to DH him on his "off" days."

Sean Murphy cracked the top 10 at No. 9 after his strong finish to the season: "It's been a bumpy ride for Murphy since reaching the majors, but he began to live up to his potential over the final two-thirds of the season, shaving 10 percentage points of his strikeout rate to bring the batting average up around .280. He could be traded this offseason, which would further enhance his value."

MJ Melendez is a catcher I can see myself targeting and he just cracked Scott's top 12 at No. 12: "Melendez's rookie season was a mixed bag, highlighted by plus plate discipline and strong exit velocity readings. Most impressive, though, was the Royals' commitment to playing him alongside Salvy Perez, having the rookie spend much of his time in the outfield."

Mets get potentially big boost

The New York Mets made a massive decision on Thursday to call up their top prospect in baseball -- catcher Francisco Alvarez -- ahead of this pivotal series against Atlanta. The 20-year-old righty hit .260 with a whopping 27 homers and an .885 OPS across 112 minor league games (45 of those at Triple A). As of now, the Mets are expected to hit Alvarez against left-handed pitching. That means he'll get his opportunity this weekend against Max Fried, currently the only left-handed starter slated to pitch against the Mets in this series.

A much-improved Kelenic?

Jarred Kelenic has been up and down in the minors and majors this season, but he may finally be catching a groove and we're excited to see it play out through the remainder of the season. On Thursday, Kelenic hit two home runs and he now has three homers since returning from the minors. In just seven games, he has struck out just five times. The strikeouts were a major issue for Kelenic before his last demotion. He is also batting .320 and looks like a clearly more confident batter in the box.

Fantasy news, injuries and notes

For a complete recap of every injury, update and more, make sure you're locked into the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast where Frank, Scott and Chris dive deep into every player note. For the CliffsNotes version, we'll recap the biggest news and notes you need to know right here:

  • Julio Rodriguez returned to baseball activities Thursday and continues to aim for Monday activation when first eligible. 
  • Scott has Julio Rodriguez first overall in his early 2023 two-round mock.
  • Tony Gonsolin is set to return Monday against the Rockies (in LA). He only pitched two innings in his lone rehab start. 
  • Trevor Story is dealing with an illness and is unlikely to play again this season.
  • Corey Seager has missed two straight after being hit by a pitch on his forearm Tuesday. 
  • Sixto Sanchez will undergo shoulder surgery on Monday. The expectation remains that Sanchez will be ready for spring training. He hasn't pitched since September of 2020. 
  • Michael Brantley said that he should be ready to resume full baseball activities by spring training. He was limited to just 64 games due to a shoulder injury.
  • Zach Plesac had his start pushed back to Saturday with Aaron Civale starting Friday. 
  • The great Connor Joe was placed on the IL with a shoulder strain.
  • Matt Manning was placed on the 60-day IL with a right forearm strain. It's unknown whether Manning will be available when spring training starts. 
  • Guardians catcher prospect Bo Naylor was promoted to their taxi squad, which sounds like he could get a cup of coffee here in the majors. His numbers in the 2022 minors: .263, 21 HR, 20 SB, .888 OPS over 118 games (66 in AAA).