Baby Mets put on a show in first full game together

Rookie quartet goes combined 5-for-13 with home run, triple, double and four RBIs

September 6th, 2023

WASHINGTON -- When arrived at Nationals Park on Tuesday and checked the lineup card hanging outside the clubhouse kitchen, he didn’t stop scanning once he saw his name. Also catching Baty’s eye was the fact that the Mets’ fifth through eighth hitters were, in order: , , himself and -- all rookies, two of whom the Mets just called up last week.

“That’s probably the first thing I noticed,” Baty said. “It was cool how we were just all back-to-back-to-back.”

All four are within two years of age, none older than 23. They came up together through the system, overlapping at various affiliates along the way. All four were in big league camp in each of the last two springs, fostering a bond that remains tight. They are friends, teammates and -- on this night -- youthful wrecking balls.

Combined, the rookie quartet finished 5-for-13 with a home run, a triple, a double, four RBIs and five runs scored in the Mets’ 11-5 win over the Nationals. Baty and Mauricio added some noteworthy plays on defense, while Alvarez caught all seven innings of José Quintana’s deepest and strongest start of the season.

“It’s incredible that we’re all in the lineup together,” Alvarez said through an interpreter. “It makes me feel like whenever we’re all in the lineup, there’s something we can do. There’s something each and every one of them are going to do, because I have that confidence in them that they can go out there and produce.”

Alvarez, the youngest of the bunch, was the one who sparked things, crushing a three-run homer off Patrick Corbin in the first inning to give the Mets a lead they would never relinquish. Coming into the game, the rookie catcher had gone 88 consecutive plate appearances without a homer. He later added a walk, a double and even his first career stolen base, which emboldened Alvarez enough to quip that he hopes to steal 20 bags next season.

Baty, who loves to kid Alvarez about his speed, rather enjoyed that sequence. He also liked watching Vientos record his first career triple on a ball to the deepest part of Nationals Park. Within minutes, Baty had joined the party himself with a two-run hit. Then there was Mauricio, who singled in the eighth inning to become one of 11 players in Mets history to begin his career with a four-game hitting streak.

“It’s amazing,” said veteran outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who went deep twice as part of a five-homer Mets attack. “They bring a lot of energy. They bring a lot of grit. They’re trying to make a statement, and that’s huge. Especially in September, I think it brings a lot of energy to the rest of us. We’re eager to play with them and see what we’re capable of.”

Outside of perhaps Alvarez, who is a near-lock to open next season as the Mets’ starting catcher, none of the other rookies are guaranteed jobs. Baty still profiles as the team’s long-term third baseman, but he must show the Mets more on both sides of the ball. Vientos has offered flashes of his power-hitting potential, particularly in recent days, but he too must become a more consistent player. Mauricio, meanwhile, is only just beginning his Major League journey. The Mets intend to use September to figure out what kind of hitter he can be -- and where he best fits defensively.

Imperfections aside, the Mets believe those four make up one of the most impactful young position-player cores in the Majors. Needless to say, team officials are watching closely.

In the closing moments of Tuesday’s game, Mauricio ranged over from second base -- an unnatural position for him -- well into foul ground to grab an Alex Call pop-up. Three batters later, Baty backhanded a Joey Meneses grounder, turned, and threw 150 feet across the diamond to record the final out at first base.

“We feel good about it,” manager Buck Showalter said when asked about the rookies’ futures. “It’s always important for them to take advantage of an opportunity because of the memories you leave, and the evaluations. Nobody knows. But you run them out there. It’s a sticky, hot, tough time, and they’ve brought some energy to us.”