Name: Brett Baty
Weight: 210 lbs.
Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft, 1st Round (Lake Travis High School)
When Brett Baty started attending Lake Travis High School, the coaches of their baseball, basketball, and football programs could hardly contain their excitement- especially their basketball coach, who just happened to be Baty’s father. Because the youngster was held back a year while in the fifth grade- a common practice among children who excel athletically at a young age- he 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 the other sports to focus on baseball. Helping lead the Cavaliers to a 37-4 record and the Class 6A regional tournament in 2019, Baty appeared in 39 games through draft day and 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, 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.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, he did not get to play in 2020, but he was invited to the Coney Island alternate site and the fall instructional league, where he impressed many in the organization. When baseball resumed in 2021, the third baseman was assigned to Brooklyn once again, but this incarnation of the Cyclones was a full-season High-A squad, as opposed to the pre-2021 incarnation of the team, which was a Short-A short-season team. Appearing in 51 games, Baty hit .309/.397/.514 with 7 home runs, 24 walks, and 53 strikeouts. He was promoted to the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies in mid-July and hit .272/.364/.424 in 40 games there with 5 home runs, 22 walks, and 45 strikeouts, giving him a batting line of .292/.382/.473 on the season with 12 home runs and a 46:98 BB:K ratio.
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 speed, and the torque from his lower half. Swing-and-miss can sometimes be a problem for Baty, as his swing occasionally gets a bit long and uppercutty, but he generally works the count, fouls away pitches, and duels with pitchers. His hitting profile combined with his propensity to lay off borderline pitches and taking close ones have prompted some to label him too passive, but his ability to draw a walk raises his floor should the development of his hit tool stall.
He has a natural feel for hitting and uses the entire field, pulling the ball 43.8% of the time in 2021, going back up the middle 24.6%, and going oppo 31.7%. The third baseman generally employs a “go with the ball” strategy, pulling the ball when the pitch is in and going back up the middle or going to the opposite field when the pitch is away. Indeed, Baty prefers to think of himself a “hitter” rather than a “slugger”. Despite the nomenclature, hitting for power is and will be central to Baty’s value. While he uses the opposite field perhaps a bit more than one would want a slugger to use, he hits to the opposite field with authority, blasting mammoth home runs to center and right with regularity.
While he was never unathletic, he toned up and slimmed down between 2019 and 2021, eliminating many possible questions regarding his defensive home in the near and long-term future. At the hot corner, Baty shows soft hands, good footwork, and an above-average arm that is accurate and has carry. He does not have much traditional quick-twitch muscle, but positioning eliminates and/or mitigates much of the problems that have come with his reaction times and range. Baty does not have a quick first step or afterburners per se, but he is a solid runner once he gets going, making him a surprisingly effective outfielder in the limited innings he spent in left field in 2021. His read off the bat and his routes need a lot of work, but as an infielder for the majority of his baseball career, this is understandable and can improve with more work.