Baty clubs two homers on grand day for Syracuse

Álvarez and Vientos go back-to-back in 16-run outburst

April 2nd, 2023

Speaking shortly after the Mets informed their top two corner infield prospects, Brett Baty and Mark Vientos, that they would not be making the club’s Opening Day roster, general manager Billy Eppler referenced the “development objectives” that the pair still needed to accomplish.

“With Brett and with Mark, we’re looking for a complete baseball player,” Eppler said during the final week of Spring Training. “We’re looking for guys that we can trust in the batter’s box, trust on the bases, trust defensively.”

One game in Triple-A -- especially on the second day of the season -- won’t check off all the boxes in one fell swoop, but the pair showed significant steps in the right direction with big performances in Syracuse’s 16-6 win over Worcester.

Baty, the Mets’ No. 2 prospect and No. 21 in all of baseball, led the charge with a 4-for-5 day at the plate, two home runs -- including a grand slam -- five RBIs, four runs scored and a stolen base. He also went full-extension to snare a line drive at third base.

Vientos, ranked No. 8 in the organization, clubbed a 450-foot home run and singled. His blast came one pitch after top Mets prospect Francisco Álvarez (MLB No. 3) hit one of his own.

Baty got the scoring started early, homering as the second batter of the top of the first inning. Red Sox left-hander Brandon Walter went to a breaking ball with two strikes but Baty got the head of his bat out early and deposited it 419 feet away in center field.

The two notable pieces of information there: against a lefty and a two-strike count. Baty hit just four of his 21 home runs in 2022 against same-side pitchers and two of them came behind in the count. With his sixth-inning grand slam under the same particulars, he matched last year’s total in his second game of 2023.

Baty’s second dinger turned a big lead into a blowout, putting Syracuse up by 10 with a laser beam to right field at 111.5 mph off the bat. That wasn’t even his hardest-hit ball on the night -- an honor belonging to a 112.9 mph single in the third.

Eppler also asked for defense. Baty obliged in the bottom of the first, laying out to snag a line drive off the bat of Enmanuel Valdez. As alone as a third baseman could possibly be on the left side of the infield under the shift restrictions, Baty showed both quick instincts and agility.

Vientos’ home run was more of what has come to be expected from the 23-year-old, who hit 24 at the Triple-A level last season, many of them just as aesthetically impressive. Part of his directive in coming back to the International League was likely to improve on his tendency to swing and miss in the zone, which was exposed in his brief Major League run last September.

Then there’s Álvarez, the only one of MLB Pipeline’s top five prospects who did not open the season in the Major Leagues. The Mets and their prized catcher were on the same page about his need to return to Syracuse to refine his defense, and he started strong on Opening Day by catching Red Sox speedster David Hamilton stealing (which happened on only eight of 78 attempts in 2022). Still, Álvarez’s Day Two homer was a reminder that his powerful bat will always be his loudest tool.

The same goes for shortstop Ronny Mauricio (No. 6), the last of New York’s big four position player prospects on the 40-man roster to reach Triple-A. Making his debut at the level this week, Mauricio laced a double down the left-field line to score a pair in Syracuse’s offensive outburst.