The New York Mets entered the 2019 MLB draft with the clear purpose of finding high-end talent to build their farm system. Brett Baty, a high school third baseman from Austin, Texas, headlined their list and was the Mets first-round selection at 12th overall.
Initially, a three-sport athlete, Baty concentrated on baseball and became a star third baseman for Lake Travis High School. By his senior year, experts considered Baty the top high school hitter in the 2019 draft class. He hit .602 with 19 home runs and 50 RBIs to earn Texas’ Gatorade Player of the Year honors his senior year.
Baty spent most of his first professional season playing in the Appalachian League for the Kingsport Mets. Later that season, he joined the Brooklyn Cyclones, who were pursuing a playoff spot. The Mets believed Baty and right-hander Matthew Allen, a 2019 third-round pick, would benefit from playing at the short-season level towards the end of the year.
During the playoffs, Baty made his presence felt with three hits in nine at-bats, as the Cyclones notched their first outright championship in franchise history. Baty will move up to High-A for the 2021 season but will remain with Brooklyn, now the Mets’ full-season affiliate.
“I’m super excited to get back there. I love that park. It’s a great atmosphere out there,” Baty said about playing in Brooklyn. “The fans are amazing. Playing there in 2019 is going to help me this year playing there again. I am super excited to get going.”
Baty will play for manager Ed Blankmeyer in 2021 in Brooklyn. Blankmeyer, who joins the Mets’ organization after a decorated head coaching career at St. John’s University, feels Baty has the right tools and makeup to succeed.
“He’s talented. He’s got big-league pedigree,” Blankmeyer said. “What I am very impressed with Brett is how he goes about his work. He is always striving to get better and finds the time to make that happen. He has an appetite for learning and working and a driven young man. I have the highest regard for him and believe there are big things ahead.”
Unlike many hitters his age that pull the ball, Baty uses the entire field and sprays the ball into the gaps. His approach is simple. He consistently drives the ball based on where its pitched to him.
“The biggest adjustment for me will be the level of pitching. I saw a pretty high level of pitching at big league camp,” Baty said. “The High-A level of pitching is going to be tough, but I just got to stay within myself and do what I do at the plate.”
To generate power, Baty keeps his arms back and uses a slight leg kick. Furthering his selectivity and contact rate over time will enable Baty to grow into a complete hitter. Defensively, he has worked on his range and quickness at third base.
“I have been working on my setup and my reaction time,” Baty said. “I’m trying to stay low to the ground so that I can get to balls over there at the hot corner. I have had some great coaching, and I feel like I am going to make a lot of strides on defense this year.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season, an alternate site of top prospects took its place in ballparks near the parent club. Baty spent the summer at the alternate site surrounded by other top players in the organization.
“They taught me (at the alternate site) to get after the little things because they are very important in the game of baseball,” Baty explained. “I also focused on consistency in baseball because you are playing it every day. You want to get to the ballpark and get better each day.”
The 2021 season will establish some normalcy for minor league players, such as Baty. It will give him a consistent routine and the grind of a complete pro season. Baty received his first invite to big league camp at the Mets complex this spring in Port St. Lucie, Florida and began physically and mentally preparing himself for Opening Day.
“I’m really excited after not being able to play, even though I was at the alternate site and was at instructs for a while,” Baty said. “The level of competition and playing in a different uniform has been amazing. It brings out the competitive juices in everybody. It is a lot of fun.”