Name: Brett Baty
Weight: 210 lbs.
Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft, 1st Round (Lake Travis High School)
5 G, 20 AB, .350 /.480/.650, 7 H, 3 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 HH, 6 K, 0/0 SB, .600 BABIP (Rookie-GCL)
42 G, 158 AB, .222/.339/.437, 35 H, 12 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 24 BB, 56 K, 0/0 SB, .292 BABIP (Rookie-APPY)
4G, 10 AB, .200/.529/.300, 2 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 6 BB, 3 K, 0/0 SB, .286 BABIP (Short-A)
When Brett Baty started attending Lake Travis High School, the coaches of their baseball, basketball, and football teams all licked their lips- especially their basketball coach, who just happened to be Baty’s father. Because Baty was held back a year while in the fifth grade, Baty had a leg up on his peers athletically and was more physically developed. He excelled in all three sports, and all three coaches could see Baty leading Lake Travis High to championships, but by the time he entered his senior year, he had abandoned all other sports in favor of baseball. Helping lead the Cavaliers to a 37-4 record and the Class 6A regional tournament, Baty appeared in 39 games through draft day and hit hit .602/.737/1.306 with 49 walks, 9 strikeouts, 19 home runs, and 10 stolen bases. In addition, he spent time on the mound once again, posting a 0.92 ERA in 53.0 innings pitched, allowing 29 hits, walking 12, and striking out 96.
With their first-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, the Mets selected Baty, the twelfth player selected overall. He eventually signed for $3.9 million, $466,000 below slot and was assigned to the GCL Mets. His time there was brief, but productive, as he hit .350/.480/.650 in five games. He was then moved up to the Kingsport Mets, where he spent the majority of the season. In 42 games in the Appalachian League, Baty hit .222/.339/.437 with six home runs. In the final week of the season, he got a token promotion to Brooklyn, where he hit .200/.529/.300 in four games and went 3-9 in their playoff run.
At the plate, Baty has a wide base, setting his hands up high and close to his body. Using a moderate leg kick and stride, the ball jumps off his bat with a crack when he makes solid contact. His swing is smooth and easy, generating power through a combination of his own raw strength, his quick bat, and the torque from his lower half. He has a natural feel for hitting and is able to use the entire field, a lesson Kingsport hitting coach Mariano Duncan tried to instill in him by working with him to use the opposite field more. He has a good eye, with an advanced recognition of breaking pitches, and comes to the plate with a plan. He is able to work the count, fouling away pitches, taking close ones, laying off borderline pitches, and generally dueling with the pitcher to get into a favorable count. He is, at times, too passive, and Duncan worked with Baty to be a little more aggressive at the plate during his time at Kingsport.
Defensively, Baty is currently capable third baseman. He is an athletic 6’3”, 210-pounds, possessing the body of the prototypical slugging third baseman. His strongest asset there is his arm, which grades out as well above-average and capable of hitting 90 MPH. His mobility is something of a concern, as he lack much quick-twitch muscle. He is slow to react and reach balls, resulting in balls getting past him, or errors when plays are rushed. Evaluators have concern that he will eventually be forced to move off of third base, either to first base or possibly left or right field, though his below-average speed will be of concern in the outfield as well.
Between Kingsport and Brooklyn, I saw Brett Baty eight times. That rounds out to about sixteen percent of the games that he played in 2019. At times, such as August 16th against the Pulaski Yankees when he went 3-4 with a walk, two doubles, and a homer, he looked like a blossoming star, with a real presence at the plate. Other times, such as the night before, when he went 0-5 with four strikeouts, he looked lost at the plate, swinging through 90 MPH fastballs like he was swinging a 42 ounce, Babe Ruth-esque piece of lumber. Every player has good days and bad days, and the truth is closer to something in-between. As is always the case with younger guys just getting their professional careers started, there are so many extraneous things influencing his numbers and performance that it’s hard to get an accurate gauge on where exactly things stand. There’s a bunch of things to like about Baty, and there are a few blemishes. He isn’t a pumpkin defender per se, but it is clear that he is and is always going to be a bat-first player, so here’s hoping the bat continues developing.
Of the names bandied around for the Mets first round pick, Baty was far from the worst option. He’s an older prep player, a profile that has typically not done well, but his ability to hit and hit for power are real. His struggles post-draft was mostly due to fatigue and what was probably an organizational emphasis on using the opposite field. If everything breaks right, Baty could be a Jay Bruce-esque player at third, which is a valuable cog in the middle of a lineup.
I liked Baty’s profile coming out of the draft, especially when the elite college version of the slugging third baseman profile came off the board before the Mets had the opportunity to select Baty with the 12th overall selection. Baty, to his credit, performed admirably during his professional debut, hitting his way to the Appalachian League after five complex league games. While he was still an above-average hitter on the season after arriving in Kingsport, there were some mild causes for concern in his performance there. His strikeout rate skyrocketed against Appalachian League pitching, finishing his season there with a strikeout rate north of 30%. He also struggled to hit for average during his first taste of professional baseball outside of the complex, hitting just .234 on the season between three levels. With the mild concerns came a more than few pleasant surprises. He managed to get on base a ton despite the low batting average, drawing an extremely encouraging 35 walks in 228 plate appearances, and Baty managed to get a decent amount of his excellent raw power to play in games before being promoted to Brooklyn for a few games during their championship run. While his debut season might not have been quite what you hoped for from the team’s most recent first round draft pick, Baty more than held his own and managed to show glimpses of the underlying skills that made him a highly ranked prospect heading into the draft. It’s always worth keeping in mind that it is extremely hard to adjust to the grind of playing baseball professionally, even for the best prospects, and it’s definitely encouraging that Baty acquitted himself as well as he did given just how long his 2019 season ended up being. Baty is also interesting to me personally, because I think he’s a clear example of why you shouldn’t read too deeply into a player’s performance in their draft year. Baty played a full season of baseball for Lake Travis High School before he found his way towards the backfields in Port St. Lucie, and he clearly showed signs of fatigue as the summer wore on, like a lot of prospects do in their draft year. I managed to see him play one game for the Cyclones at the end of the season, and the only thing I could tell you with any degree of certainty about his performance was that he looked absolutely exhausted, and that the game was definitely not a representative look of his talent. The positive glimpses I did see were all encouraging. The bat speed that led evaluators to rave about his power potential heading into the draft appears to be there, even if fatigue limited his ability to keep his body in sync enough to get it to play in-game on that particular day. The plate discipline is also as advertised - he walked six times in four regular season games for the Cyclones, and another two times in three games during the NYPL Championship Series. With all of the usual post-draft caveats making his 2019 performance a bit arbitrary when discussing his future potential, this upcoming season will be the first real test of Baty’s young career, as I would expect that he begins the year in the full-season South Atlantic League.
Baty was the Mets first round pick in 2019, and while he struggled a bit during his first taste of pro ball, there is still plenty of potential in him. He hit a paltry .234/.368/.452 in 228 plate appearances across the Gulf Coast League, Kingsport, and Brooklyn, with the majority of his time spent in Kingsport. While the numbers certainly do not stand out, there is a lot to like – he has a fluid swing, and he hits the ball hard when he hits it. He is hardly a free swinger up there, as one can see by his on-base percentage. While his future in the field is a bit of a question mark, there is one thing for sure – he has the potential to hit, and it will be exciting to see if it progresses.