Week: 6 G, 21 AB, .524/.615/1.190, 11 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 5 BB, 4 K, 0/0 SB, .538 BABIP
2021 Season: 24 G, 84 AB, .369/.476/.595, 31 H, 7 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 17 BB, 23 K, 2/4 SB, .466 BABIP
Coming into the 2021 season, I was worried about how Brett Baty would perform. Because of the cancellation of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 and his own advanced age at the time he was drafted, he was coming into the season as a 21-year-old with no meaningful experience above Rookie-level baseball. The track record for 19-year-old prep draftees selected in the first round of the MLB Draft is not great to begin with- in decades-long history of the MLB Rule 4 Draft, 20 others have been selected meeting that criteria: Richie Hebner in 1966, Ron Sorey in 1974, Shawon Dunston in 1982, Steve Pegues in 1987, Earl Cunningham in 1989, Mike Lieberthal in 1990, Trot Nixon and Charles Peterson in 1993, Josh Booty and Mark Farris in 1994, Joe Lawrence in 1996, Corey Myers in 1999, C.J. Henry in 2005, Pete Kozma, Ben Revere and Wendell Fairley in 2007, Anthony Hewitt in 2008, Blake Swihart in 2011, Blake Rutherford in 2016, and Bubba Thompson in 2017- and losing a critical developmental certainly wouldn’t help. Depending on where the Mets decided to assign him, he would be facing pitchers who could throw above-average velocity with some measure of command; he would be facing pitchers who could throw legitimate breaking balls; he would be facing fielders that were more sure-handed than anyone he had faced as an amateur or professional before.
Roughly a month into the season, Baty has not only assuaged any fears that he might be over his head, but he’s performed better than anyone could have expected. Playing with and against players who have years of college experience and/or years of professional experience, Baty often looks like the best player on the field- and that includes his teammates Ronny Mauricio and Francisco Alvarez.
I’ll be honest- on Amazin’ Avenue and in Mets prospect circles in general, I was lower on Baty than anyone else. I saw him in six games down in Kingsport and then another two in Brooklyn in 2019, which accounted for sixteen percent of the games he played in 2019. There were times when he looked like a legit star, with a presence at the plate that pitchers feared because he didn’t swing at anything he didn’t like, and drove anything he did for extra bases. There were other times when he was swinging through 90 MPH fastballs like he was swinging a giant log instead of a baseball bat. Combined with his age and amount of experience- especially compared to Mark Vientos- his negatives were magnified in my mind. Clearly, Baty has put in the work between when I last saw him and the present.
His stock has clearly shot up, but I still do have some questions, most notably his ability to make good contact with inside pitches and pull balls for hits. Even going back to 2019, when I saw him with the now-defunct Kingsport Mets, he had a tendency to go the other way; He pulled the ball 41.2% of the time, went back up the middle 24.5% of the time, and hit to the opposite field 34.3% of the time. That year, he had fairly major platoon splits, hitting .178/.288/.267 in 52 plate appearances against left-handers, versus a much more robust .245/.386/.503 in 176 against right-handers. Obviously, there is a lot of statistical noise in there, given the relatively small size of both samples and the general uselessness of low-level minor league stats, but the roughly .100 point difference in OBP and the roughly .250 point difference in slugging was concerning.
So far this season, he has a very similar spray chart, with 41.9% of his hits being pulled, 38.7% back up the middle, and 19.4% to the opposite field. The problematic platoon splits that existed in 2019 have not plagued Baty so far this season. Against right-handers, he is hitting an impressive .375/.494.609 in 79 plate appearances and an equally robust .350/.417/.550 in 64 plate appearances.
The only thing I noticed that may have changed is that it looks to me like Baty is a little more closed at the plate than he was in 2019. The difference is far from drastic, as he was not overly open to begin with, and the difference is far from drastic. Is this the reason why he’s eliminated the platoon splits so far this season, or is it simply statistical noise? Who knows. Normally hitters with open stances have no issues pulling the ball, and closing up more cause more problems getting to the inside pitch, but that is the only thing I noticed that seems different about Baty. It might even be an optical illusion and nothing actually changed mechanically, as he trimmed down since we last saw him, losing bad weight while maintaining his strength and quite possibly becoming more athletic.
Regardless of how he stands at the plate, or where he hits the ball, he puts a jolt in it. He has a smooth, simple swing with a path that is straight to the ball and comes with plenty of power behind it- and when I say plenty of power, I mean plenty of power. I’ve seen him punish the ball over the center field wall 405 feet away at Calfee Park and over the center field wall 400 feet away at First Energy Park, both above high walls. His last home run of this Jersey Shore series, which was deposited over the right-center wall, was on a pitch that he didn’t really seem to get all of and was out in front of.
The concerns about his defense have also been reduced. As I wrote in his initial scouting report when he was drafted, he was never a bad defensive third baseman by any means, but being big bodied, he might eventually lose mobility to the point that he might have to be shifted over to first base in the future. Baty being much more svelte this season have pushed such concerns even further down the road than they already were, barring some drastic body changes over the course of the next few months/years.
Baty was on the back end of a handful of national Top 100 Prospects list, or just barely missed making it into the top 100 in others. There is no doubt in my mind (and I have it on good authority) that when the midseason Top 100 Prospects lists get published, Baty will find himself very prominently positioned near the front- and deservingly so.
Week: 1 G (1 GS), 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER (0.00 ERA), 1 BB, 5 K, .000 BABIP
2021 Season: 4 G (4 GS), 16.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER (3.24 ERA), 9 BB, 22 K, .219 BABIP
A Seattle, Washington area native, Alec Kisena attended Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek, Washington, and after graduating in 2013 attended Edmonds Community College, a junior college in Lynnwood, Washington. If “Mill Creek” sounds familiar, you must be a diehard ‘alternate baseball’ fan, as the Mill Creek Little League team qualified for the 2008 Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Kisena was on that team, which was eliminated by Waipio Little League in the elimination quarterfinals. According to the memories of those who say him, he was a hitter who nibbled a bit below and above the zone but could handle any pitch left in it.
Originally an infielder who began pitching in earnest in his sophomore year of high school, Kisena was among the best starters the Tritons had. In 2015, the right-hander posted a 2.28 ERA in 75.0 innings, allowing 48 hits, walking 6, and striking out 82. Eligible to be drafted because of his JUCO status, the Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, and Detroit Tigers all expressed interest in drafting him in the upcoming 2015 MLB Draft. He only attended the Seattle and St. Louis workouts, missing the Detroit workout because of unavoidable scheduling conflicts, but ironically, the Tigers would be the ones to draft him, selecting him with their 16th round pick, the 490th player selected overall. Because of his excellent performance during the season and his ability to return to Edmonds Community College for the 2016 season if he wanted, the Tigers were forced to dig a little deeper into their pockets to sign Kisena, and the two sides eventually agreed to a $100,000 signing bonus.
The big right-hander was assigned to the Tigers’ GCL team and had an excellent year, posting a 2.25 ERA in 40.0 innings, allowing 35 hits, walking 16, and striking out 44. He would be unable to replicate that success in 2016 as he missed the entire season due to an ACL injury. The injury was taking Kisena longer to recover and rehab from, and in early May 2017, the Tigers released him. Roughly a month later, he got a call from the pitching coach of the Gateway Grizzlies, a team in the Frontier League. The team needed to bolster their pitching and reached out to Kisena, who was now healthy and could do just that. After weighing his options- he had received similar offers from two other Can-Am League teams- he decided to sign with the Grizzlies.
He would spend the rest of the 2017 season with them and would re-sign and spend the entire 2018 there as well. In total, he would post a 5.51 ERA in 168.1 innings, allowing 165 hits, walking 74, and striking out 167. His performance in the Frontier League attracted the attention of Mets scouts, and the Mets signed him to a minor league contract in late February 2019. He was assigned to the Columbia Fireflies to start the season, was briefly promoted to the Brooklyn Cyclones and the St. Lucie Mets in July, and ended the season back in Columbia.
Kisena is a tall individual, standing 6’5” and weighing upwards of 250 lbs. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot, short-arming the ball. Despite his intimidating size, the right-hander does not have an intimidating fastball. The pitch hovers around the 90 MPH mark. Because of his size, Kisena throws everything with downward plane and the pitch has some sink to it as a result. It also has a little bit of arm-side movement thanks to his arm slot. In addition to his fastball, he also throws a mid-80s changeup and a big, loopy curveball in the mid-to-high-70s. Because of his height, the plane his pitches have, and the natural downward movement that all three pitches have, he is most effective down in the zone and under it.
Players of the Week 2021
- Week One (May 4-May 8): Francisco Alvarez/Tylor Megill
- Week Two (May 9-May 15): Antoine Duplantis/Tylor Megill
- Week Three (May 16-May 23): Francisco Alvarez/Franklin Parra
- Week Four (May 24-May 30): Mason Williams/Franklyn Kilome