Brett Baty: Operation Desert Storm

Mets' director of amateur scouting Marc Tramuta joins to discuss Baty's ascent to AFL rock star...

Brett Baty’s big-stage breakout has officially commenced.

The Mets’ first-round draft pick in 2019 (12th overall, Lake Travis HS, Austin, TX) is currently laser-beaming his way through the Arizona Fall League, hitting a boisterous .500/.632/.786 with three extra-base hits and just three strikeouts through his first four AFL games (19 plate appearances).

Baty, turning 22 in November, obviously must have caught wind of the elite nature of the annual minor league showcase — just rake, baby — and followed suit. When in the desert…

Following an extraordinary 2021 season split between High-A Brooklyn and Double-A Binghamton (.292/.382/.473, 22 doubles, 12 homers, 25.5% strikeout rate), Baty undoubtedly earned his ticket here.

Now, with the baseball world watching, the left-handed hitting third baseman is making every effort to ensure he remains among MiLB’s highest society of prospects before it’s his turn to make the jump.

Judging by how things have been progressing, that day might not be too far off.

Baty spent the bulk of his initial pro season with Kingsport in 2019 (.222/.339/.437, six homers, 12 doubles, two triples, 186 PA) struggling at times but exhibiting all the tools the Mets anticipated him possessing when they spent their top pick on him earlier in the summer.

A subpar slash line and 30.1% strikeout rate during his time in the Appalachian League stands out as a bit eyesore-ish, but, as a player of this caliber does, progress was made. It just took a while to get cracking on that puzzle.

As most of us remember, 2020 — the calendar year and otherwise — was virtually a wash due to the still-ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. Naturally, that shutdown included the cancellation of the entire MiLB season.

For young ballplayers on a rigid course towards making a career out of baseball or settling into the next chapters of their lives, their options were surprisingly simple upon the world being turned on its end: wait and see how this all transpires, or keep working and stay ready for when the dust settles.

Baty chose the latter, clearly.

As one of the select Mets prospects to be invited to the team’s alternate training facility in Brooklyn last summer, Baty spent some time getting back into the swing but was only at the site from late August on.

Mostly, it was on him to stay prepared and baseball-ready.

Speaking with The Apple, Mets director of amateur scouting, Marc Tramuta, praised Baty’s work ethic throughout the layoff, noting he, “showed his commitment to working in the offseason, which speaks well to his makeup”.

That hard work paid off almost immediately. Starting the season with High-A Brooklyn, Baty began the year on a tear, hitting .425/.520/.550 over his first 50 plate appearances. Yeah, that’ll play.

He cooled for a spell (3-for-23 from May 20 through May 29) but that lull didn’t last long. Over his next 132 plate appearances with the Cyclones, Baty slashed .305/.379/.576, earning himself a promotion to Double-A Bingo.

Despite playing at 2.9-years below league average age, it didn’t take Baty long to adjust to the increased level of competition. A 5-for-36 funk (15 strikeouts) to kick off his Binghamton tenure quickly gave way to more of the same for the young exit-velo king.

On July 24, Baty’s 4-for-4, six RBI night carried the Rumble Ponies to a thrilling 14-13 win over Erie at home. From that night through the end of the season, Baty hit .308/.399/.496 with seven doubles, five homers, and just 31 strikeouts over 138 PA.

Attaway to pick yourself up. The organization seems pleased with the strides taken, as well.

“Obviously, he handled Brooklyn at a well-above-average clip and then was above-average in Double-A at just 21 years old,” Tramuta told The Apple. “He adjusted very well in August.”

“Offensively, I think he has huge upside with impact potential,” he added. “The home runs are going to come. He has as much raw power as anyone in the entire system. And, as you’ve seen in the Arizona Fall League, this kid hits the ball hard."

Ain’t that the truth. Baty has been clocking 100+ MPH exit velocities regularly over his first week in Arizona. And the other tools check out, too.

As for Baty’s defense, Tramuta hints at a tinge of undervaluation from outside perspectives.

“He’s a very good athlete for his 6’3” size,” he said. “Not that his body was all that bad out of high school, but he’s done a fantastic job of getting it in even better shape and he’s moving well. I think he’s going to be a fine third baseman.”

With a presumed hole to fill at the position at the big-league level this winter, the Mets have a bit of a conundrum on their hands. And no, they shouldn’t be considering rushing Baty to The Show.

But they do need to consider their approach to filling the gap before him (or Mark Vientos, also a third baseman by trade with experience at first) are ready to take things over.

With heavy-duty free agents out there in Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa (publicly stated he’s open to playing third), as well as trade options (we spoke about José Ramírez over the weekend) and in-house options (J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, Luis Guillorme), the Mets can play this a number of ways.

It’s a little too early to start speculating as to which way the wind may blow in that regard, but Brett Baty is surely keeping the topic a fresh one among organizational discussions.

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