Mets prospect taps into power potential in Fall League

October 19th, 2023

MESA, Ariz. -- isn't your stereotypical slug-first first baseman. He isn't trying to be one either.

"At this point, I like who I am as a hitter, putting the ball the other way and gap to gap," he said. "Hopefully the homers come along with that, but I don't really try and focus on it too much and sell out for power."

On Wednesday, the Mets prospect proved he can have it both ways as he went 3-for-4 with a homer, a double and three RBIs to lead Glendale to a 6-2 win over Mesa at Sloan Park.

Schwartz's first three-hit game of the Arizona Fall League extended his hitting streak for the Desert Dogs to five games. He's gone 8-for-20 (.400) with two homers, two doubles and seven RBIs over that stretch to push his slash line to .324/.378/.559 through nine contests.

The left-handed hitter singled in the second inning and added an RBI double in the sixth to give Glendale a 4-2 lead. Then Schwartz provided some extra insurance with the two-run homer two innings later, driving a 1-1 fastball from Cubs right-handed reliever Chris Kachmar to right-center field.

"He threw me a good changeup first pitch that I didn't see too great," the 23-year-old said. "Got back to the fastball, was on time for it and put a good swing on it."

Timing is an important issue for Schwartz heading into the Fall League. The 2021 fourth-rounder missed two-and-a-half months during the regular season due to a quad injury suffered in a May 12 game for Double-A Binghamton. He returned to the Rumble Ponies lineup on July 27 and hit .348 with a .439 OBP over his final 39 games of the regular season -- signs that he was able to find himself quickly despite the lost time.

"I think that's the biggest thing -- getting more at-bats, game reps," Schwartz said. "That's the easiest way to do it. Some of it is machine work in the cage, even stuff like flips. You can get that timing with your swing and everything. [Those are] little things, but a lot of it is getting more at-bats."

Over that final stretch in the Eastern League, however, only 14 of his 49 hits went for extra bases and just two of those were home runs. Schwartz finished his regular season with Binghamton with only four long balls over 66 games as he prioritized contact over pop. His 16.6 percent K rate and 7.7 percent swinging-strike rate ranked fifth and sixth respectively among Mets Minor Leaguers with at least 250 plate appearances.

After Wednesday's big afternoon, Schwartz is showing he can tap into power a little better in games. His .559 slugging percentage is tops among Glendale hitters, one spot ahead of Colson Montgomery (.535) -- the top-ranked prospect in the AFL this year at No. 17 overall.

Before the quad injury, Schwartz had been playing some left field, but featured there only three times down the stretch with Binghamton. He's been primarily first base in the AFL with some starts at designated hitter, where he was slotted on Wednesday. That raises the bar for his bat to clear, but that's not much of a concern for Schwartz so long as he performs as he believes he can.

"I really try not to think about it," he said. "A lot of first basemen are more of that traditional power hitter. I don't really see myself as being that traditional power hitter, but hopefully, the power does come and keeps coming. Whatever happens happens. Just trying to do my thing."

Red Sox outfield prospect went 3-for-5 with a pair of steals from the top of the Glendale lineup, while Twins slugger contributed a two-run homer for the victors. Cubs' No. 9 prospect went 2-for-3 with a triple and a walk for Mesa in the loss, improving his OPS to a league-best 1.393.