By Jim Maggiore
On Saturday night, July 24th, Brett Baty entered the game hitting .139, still looking for his first RBI in Double-A, let alone his first home run and, to make matters worse, he had already struck out 15 times, an incredible 38% of the time he marched to the plate! Though he had only 40 plate appearances, these totals were still alarmingly anemic.
Brett Baty was the first round pick of the Mets in 2018, the 12th overall pick and expectations have been high for him from the first moment he set foot on a professional diamond. Now he was finding that the pitchers in Double-A had better command and kept hitters off balance with an assortment of off-speed pitches. The game was faster than what he had seen in Class-A ball, where he hit .309 in 205 plate appearances, with 7 homers and 34 RBIs, and had struck out 53 times, still high at 25%, but nothing approaching his rate at Double-A. At the end of the night on July 31st, however, Baty would raise his batting average almost one hundred points, to .225, with one homer and 6 RBIs. July 24th was indeed a coming of age night for Baty.
His first at-bat this night he hit a 92-mph fastball off of Chance Kirby that reached the left center-field fence on a single hop. In the third inning he got his team back into the game by hitting another fastball far, this one over the leaping try by standout centerfielder Riley Greene, who just missed making a spectacular catch to rob Baty of his first Double-A dinger. The two-run shot brought the Ponies to within three runs of the SeaWolves, as the score stood 7-4 after Baty’s milestone.
The fun had started for Baty.
In the bottom of the 4th he knocked in two more runs with a single to left off an 84-mph changeup, bringing home Matt Winaker and Nick Meyer. After walking in the 6th inning, Baty hit another double in the bottom of the seventh, this one off another off-speed pitch, to the left-center gap, scoring Luis Carpio and Matt Winaker, giving the Ponies a 12-11 lead. Mark Vientos then followed with a single up the middle, ending the 6-run scoring and giving the Mets a 14-11 lead. The Ponies held on to win the game, 14-13.
The next morning Baty was up early, as he was a guest on the 9:30 segment of Grant Paulsen’s “Majors and Minors” radio show on SIRIUS XM radio. Paulsen introduced Baty with glowing remarks, calling him a jewel in the Mets’ farm system. He praised Baty’s exploits from the night before and asked him how he celebrated his big night. “Well, here in Binghamton there’s a neat place to get a bite to eat called The Colonial, so I went with a bunch of the guys there and we had a good post-game meal and talked about the game a bit.” Baty also went on to explain the difference in playing in Binghamton from Brooklyn. “In Double-A the game’s a lot faster, everything’s faster, from the speed of the players to the velo on the pitches, to the way the ball travels all over the diamond. It’s taken me a bit to get adjusted to the speed and I’m still adjusting to its speed up here, but last night felt good.”
Baty has developed a reputation for hard work and is also learning how to play left field, as the power-hitting presence of Mark Vientos has the Mets’ front office already wondering how they can get the bats of Baty and Vientos in the lineup at the same time in Flushing in a year or two. With Baty’s arrival, Vientos has also seen increased time in LF and 1B as well.
As of this writing, in the 72 plate appearances Baty has had since July 31st, he’s raised his average to .271 and has hit 5 homers! He’s obviously caught up to the speed of the game and now it appears the only thing he does slowly is sign autographs. It turns out the autograph hounds who patrol MIRABITO STADIUM have lots of cards of Brett Baty that they would like him to sign. They’ve found out that Baty only signs one autograph a day for each fan, making it a long season for those with a dozen or so cards of Baty. Those hounds now affectionately refer to the promising prospect as Brett “One-A-Day” Baty.
If Baty keeps playing this well, there just might be a future vitamin commercial for him in Flushing.