Brett Baty shows off bat with homer in first at-bat in Mets’ Grapefruit League opener vs. Astros
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The games might not count yet but the effort does.
Brett Baty, the Mets’ No. 2-ranked prospect, had a strong showing in the first Grapefruit League game of the season Saturday afternoon at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. In his first at-bat of the spring, the 23-year-old third base prospect took Houston right-hander Brandon Bielak more than 400 feet dead center for a two-run homer in the first inning. He reached base three times going 2-for-2 with the home run, single and a walk.
“The first pitch was a curveball and it was down, the second pitch was a curveball and then the third one, I was sitting on a heater,” Baty said. “I got it. I got it up in the air and it worked out.”
This came one day after he had two impressive hits in the Mets’ Friday intrasquad contest. Baty hit a line drive over the head of shortstop Francisco Lindor and doubled to the warning track in left-center.
“I’m seeing it well right now,” Baty said. “I’m just trying to stay within myself and hit the ball hard to all fields. It’s working out right now.”
Baty also attempted a diving catch in foul territory at third base. The Mets have made it clear that Baty will not be called up to the Major Leagues if he is not able to defend at a high level and general manager Billy Eppler reiterated this during the first week of camp. Eppler doesn’t want young prospects like Baty, Mark Vientos or Francisco Alvarez to be exposed defensively, even if they can hit Major League pitching, and he doesn’t want the Mets to have to sacrifice defense to accommodate young bats.
Baty did make an error at third base, dropping a grounder in the second inning. But this is only the start of Baty’s spring audition. There is plenty for him to gain from spring training and for the Mets to glean about their future third baseman as Eduardo Escobar and many other lineup regulars head off to the World Baseball Classic.
Baty arrived in Port St. Lucie a few weeks ahead of his report date in order to work on his defense away from the turf fields of Texas. Although he’s going through a progression program, he appears to be ahead of schedule, already in early-season form and feeling as though he can play all nine innings.
“I feel like I’m seeing it well, I feel like my defense is there too and I feel like my body is handling it well,” Baty said. “I feel great.”
The Mets lost the first game 4-2 and won the nightcap at Clover Field against the Miami Marlins 5-2. Pete Alonso went 3-for-3 with a home run in front of a sellout crowd of 7,109.
Alonso dropped weight by incorporating more distance running into his offseason routine. Seeing immediate success at the plate was gratifying, and a good indicator that he’s ready to produce at the WBC.
“It’s really nice, especially when you’ve put in a ton of work,” Alonso said. “Not just in the two weeks prior, but with BP, work in the cage and stuff like that — working throughout the entire offseason. It’s nice to have some tangible success translate into the game.”
The Mets continue Grapefruit League action at 6:10 p.m., at home at Clover Field against the Miami Marlins. …
Tim Locastro, a reserve outfielder who is hoping to make the team by using his legs got off to a good start with a stolen base in the first inning. There were three stolen bases in the game, the first played with the new, enlarged bases. …
Adam Ottavino was the only regular to make an appearance on the mound in the first game. He was the recipient of some shaky defense with Baty’s error, two stolen bases and a collision between infielders Luis Guillorme and Jonathan Arauz put two on with one out. Ottavino faced first and third with one out, but got out of the jam with Rylan Bannon getting caught in a rundown and Mauricio Dubon grounding out to end the inning.
“It kind of hopped up,” Baty said of the ground ball he booted. “I’ve got to turn my glove around. I’ve got to know better than that. I can’t be making the same mistakes over and over again. At the end of the day, I’ve got to own it and make the play next time.”