WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The games may not count yet, but the effort does.
Brett Baty, No. 2 for the Mets, had a strong showing in the first Grapefruit League game of the season Saturday afternoon at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. In his first at bat of the spring, the 23-year-old third baseman prospect led Houston right-hander Brandon Bielak more than 400 feet from center for a two-run home run in the first inning. He reached base three times going 2 for 2 with a home run, a single and a walk.
“The first pitch was a curveball and it went down, the second pitch was a curveball, and by the third I was sitting on a heater,” Baty said. “I got it. I put it on the air and it worked.”
That came a day after he had two impressive hits in the Mets’ intrasquad competition on Friday. Baty hit a line drive over shortstop Francisco Lindor and doubled into caution lane at left center.
“I can see it well now,” said Baty. “I’m just trying to stay within myself and hit the ball hard in every field. It’s working now.”
Baty also attempted a diving catch in foul territory at third base. The Mets have made it clear that Baty will not be called up to the majors if he is not capable of defending at a high level and general manager Billy Eppler reiterated this during the first week of camp. Eppler doesn’t want young prospects like Baty, Mark Vientos or Francisco Alvarez to be exposed defensively, even if they can hit the Major League pitch, and he doesn’t want the Mets to have to sacrifice defense to accommodate young bats.
Baty made an error at third base, missing a grounder in the second inning. But this is just the beginning of Baty’s spring audition. There’s a lot for him to gain from spring training and for the Mets to learn about their future third baseman as Eduardo Escobar and many other regulars head into the World Baseball Classic.
Baty arrived at Port St. Lucie a few weeks before her report date to work on her defense away from the Texas grass fields. Although he is undergoing a progression program, he appears to be ahead of schedule, already in shape early in the season and feeling he can play all nine innings.
“I feel like I’m seeing good, I feel like my defense is there too and I feel like my body is handling it well,” said Baty. “I feel great.”
The Mets continue the Grapefruit League action at 6:10 pm at home at Clover Field against the Miami Marlins. …
Tim Locastro, a backup outfielder who hopes to break into the team using his legs, got off to a good start with a stolen base in the first inning. There were three stolen bases in the game, the first play with the new expanded bases. …
Adam Ottavino was the only regular to appear on the mound in game one. He received shaky defense with Baty’s error, two stolen bases, and a collision between infielders Luis Guillorme and Jonathan Arauz put two in the game with one out. Ottavino faced first and third with one out, but got out of the grip as Rylan Bannon was caught on a hit and Mauricio Dubon fell to end the inning.
“It kind of bounced,” Baty said of the ball he kicked. “I have to turn my glove. I have to know better than that. I can’t make the same mistakes over and over again. At the end of the day, I have to take over and make the move next time.
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