ATLANTA — The New York Mets called up top prospect Brett Baty on Wednesday to fill in at third base due to illness. Edward Escobarputting the 22-year-old in the middle of a spirited race for the NL East title.
He made an immediate impact.
Baty, hitting eighth and playing third base in his major league debut against the Braves in Atlanta, hit a home run in his first at-bat, a two-run shot in the second inning that gave the Mets a 4-0 lead.
Baty, who is from Round Rock, Texas, said pregame that his mother, father, sister and several other relatives flew to Atlanta for his big league debut. They reacted to his home run accordingly.
– MLB (@MLB) August 17, 2022
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Baty is the fifth player with a home run in his first career plate appearance in Mets history and first since Mike Jacobs in 2005.
Ranked the 37th-best prospect in baseball by ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, Baty was called up to the big leagues just a week after being promoted to Triple-A Syracuse.
“It wasn’t on my mind at all,” Baty said before the game of the call. “I was just thinking about winning ballgames for Syracuse. But now I’m here, so it’s about winning ballgames for the New York Mets.”
Escobar was scratched from the lineup for Tuesday’s game after working on the field before batting practice. Manager Buck Showalter said Escobar’s left oblique injury was getting worse and he didn’t want to risk a long-term problem. Escobar went on the IL, retroactive to Tuesday, clearing the way for Baty to join the club.
The No. 12 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Baty hit a combined .315 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs for Double-A Binghamton and Syracuse.
His offensive numbers — especially his power — have improved greatly this season over his first two years in the minors.
“I don’t expect myself,” said Baty. “I’m just going to go out there and play to the best of my ability. I’m here for a reason. I’m going to let it show and do my best out there.”
Showalter got a chance to work with Baty in spring training. He challenged the youngster a few times, keen to see how he would react to what the manager shyly called “constructive criticism”.
Baty passed that test.
“I trust the way I play baseball, and I trust myself on the field,” the rookie said. “They attacked me, but I kind of responded.”
Center fielder Brandon Nimmo pulled Baty aside after the team arrived at Truist Park. He knows the highly-touted player will face intense scrutiny joining a first-place team trying to claim their first division title since 2015.
“Nimmo just took me aside and he said, ‘Hey, man, slow it down.’ It will be quite a big atmosphere for sure. But we all trust you out there. We’ve got your back,” Baty said. “That’s what I wanted to hear.”
In other injury developments, pitcher Taijuan Walker underwent an MRI after going two innings in his start Tuesday because of back spasms.
Walker may not be able to make his next scheduled start Sunday in Philadelphia, but it doesn’t appear he will be out for an extended period, according to Showalter.
The Mets couldn’t afford another blow to their rotation after 13-game winner Carlos Carrasco also lasted two innings Monday before leaving with a strained left oblique. He was placed on the IL and is expected to miss up to a month.
“Pretty good news, all things considered,” Showalter said of Walker. “His Sunday start is in jeopardy, but we’re still holding out hope that it works out before that. We have some different thoughts” on who might step in if Walker can’t go.
The Mets designated a reliever RJ Alvarez for assignment after he gave up three runs in 2 1/3 innings in 5-0 loss to the Braves on Tuesday – his first appearance in the big leagues since 2015. Lefty Sam Clay was called up from Syracuse.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.