In AFL, Baty showcasing big potential 

October 27th, 2021

This could be ’s moment. Or latest moment, anyway.

Coming off a successful first season at High-A Brooklyn and Double-A Binghamton, the Mets’ No. 2 prospect (MLB 45) has been suiting up for Salt River in the Arizona Fall League, where he could solidify his place as one of the Minors’ best left-handed bats while taking the field against other big names.

“I’m not really worried about anything like that,” Baty said about proving himself. “I’m just out here to have fun, just get better at the game of baseball. It’s a good way to get ABs because we did miss a couple of weeks during the season.”

Fair enough. The 2019 first-rounder did manage only 91 games during the regular season, despite never hitting the injured list, in part because of Binghamton’s lengthy streak of COVID-related cancellations in September. But what the 21-year-old did with those 91 games was pretty special.

Baty hit .292/.382/.473 with 12 homers in his 332 at-bats during the regular season, exhibiting an important blend of hit and power tools. That came despite the fact he hadn’t played for a full-season affiliate entering the spring, having had what should have been his first full season wiped out by the canceled 2020 campaign. His pop goes to all fields and projects to be plus as he gains more experience, including his time in the AFL.

What remains somewhat up in the air -- where will Baty play? New York started getting the traditional third baseman looks in left field in 2021, and those increased following his July move to Binghamton, where he bumped up against fellow hot-corner hitter . A step below both, is also eying a future at third. But it’s a priority for the Mets to do what they can to make sure Baty’s bat will be in a future lineup in Queens.

“I really enjoyed it,” Baty said. “Showing off some versatility, some athleticism. It was really cool to get out there because we have two really highly ranked third-baseman prospects. So to show off the versatility that I could play somewhere other than third base was really cool this year.”

Baty has only played third in the early days in the Fall League, and he has certainly brought his bat as well, regularly hitting balls with 100+ mph exit velocities at Salt River Fields. If anyone is geared up to hit for six straight weeks in the desert, it might be the left-handed slugger in blue and orange.

“I feel like I have a lot left in the tank,” he said. “I really stressed taking care of my body this year. Whether it’s prep work, whether it’s nutrition, I really emphasized that throughout this year. I feel great right now. I feel like I could play 30 more games easily. I’m ready to go.”

Mets hitters in the AFL

Carlos Cortes, OF (No. 10): There was a time when the most interesting thing about Cortes was that he was a switch-thrower -- left-handed from the outfield, right-handed from the infield. He’s a full-time outfielder now, and his bat garners the most attention these days. Cortes hit .257/.332/.487 with 14 homers in 79 games at Double-A Binghamton and has made a healthy amount of hard contact from the left side through the first two weeks of the Fall League.

Hayden Senger, C (No. 21): The 2018 24th-rounder has become a name to know in a shallow New York system, thanks mostly to his above-average defensive work behind the plate, both in terms of his glove and arm. He showed a good bat in 2021 as well, hitting .263/.341/.429 with five homers in 61 games at High-A and Double-A. He projects as a backup backstop at the top level.

Wilmer Reyes, INF: Reyes is a classic “needs at-bats” story in the Fall League. The 23-year-old played only 16 games in 2021 -- seven of which were in the Florida Complex League -- due to a knee injury. He’s mostly shown off the wheels in the early days of the AFL, stealing four bags in his first eight games, while splitting time between second and short.

Mets pitchers in the AFL

Garrison Bryant, RHP: The 2016 36th-rounder isn’t one to light up a radar gun and typically hovers around 90 mph in his outings. He’ll mix in a slider and a changeup to give himself a shot at starting. Bryant was limited to only 18 2/3 innings during the regular season and is once again eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after going unprotected and unpicked last year.

Connor Grey, RHP: The Mets signed Grey out of the independent American Association in June and will get a closer look at the former D-backs hurler this fall. Grey posted a 2.93 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 40 innings at High-A and Double-A after his acquisition. His four-seamer has sat 90-92 mph in the Fall League thus far, and he also sports a slider, curve and changeup to give batters multiple looks.

Colin Holderman, RHP: The 2016 ninth-rounder stands at 6-foot-7 and has the velocity to match his size, coming in the high 90s with his heater. He’ll throw more of his slider than his changeup among his secondaries. Early career injuries have pushed Holderman to a full-time relief role, and he needs the innings that come in the Fall League to prove to the Mets (and potentially other clubs) that he can harness the stuff effectively enough in that role.

Brian Metoyer, RHP: The 24-year-old right-hander makes scouts pay attention with a curveball that features spin rates north of 3,000 rpm, and his fastball velocity can be a touch above-average in the low to mid-90s depending on the day. The 2018 40th-rounder posted a 2.18 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 33 innings at High-A and is Rule 5-eligible this winter, meaning more than just the Mets will have close eyes on him in Arizona.