Brett Baty, Francisco Alvarez, Mark Vientos and Ronny Mauricio were going to be a storyline for the Mets’ 2023 season.
Those guys figured to contribute to the Mets this season. So far, Baty, Alvarez and Vientos have been called up, and it’s only a matter of time until Mauricio gets called up to the majors.
The Mets have to be happy with three of their future cornerstone players coming along nicely. They have contributed to jumpstarting the offense. They are providing a much-needed lift to a sagging offense to start the season. They have created an identity to that lineup by taking good at-bats and finding a way to get on base.
So far, the story of the season has been about the young studs.
Baty and Vientos played a role in the Mets’ 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday afternoon at Citi Field, resulting in a Mets' sweep in the three-game divisional series.
With the Mets taking a 3-2 lead over the Phillies, Baty hit a leadoff double to start the sixth inning and moved to third on a Starling Marte bunt. Vientos hit a sacrifice fly that scored Baty to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.
This is what the Mets envisioned and expected when they called up their prize prospects: for them to complement each other by moving them around on the basepaths and driving them home through base hits or home runs.
Before we analyze Baty and Vientos, we need to look at Alvarez. He is the Mets' top prospect that they hope to build around for the next 10 or 15 years. All eyes were going to be on him when called up this season. Everyone was curious to see how he would fare playing in the majors.
So far so good. Alvarez has been producing at the plate, and calling a good game with the pitchers. He’s been so good that Mets manager Buck Showalter moved him up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup to start the series against the Phillies.
The Mets rookie catcher finished May by hitting seven home runs with a 1.029 OPS to show for it. His Met moment came on Saturday night when he hit a two-out, three-run home run in the sixth inning to tie the game at six against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field.
Alvarez’s work as a catcher is what impresses Showalter more than anything. The Mets' manager wanted him to work on his game-calling before the Mets called him up this season. The rookie’s improvement has been evident by how well the Mets starters have pitched lately. He has called a good game with the starters as they are feeling comfortable throwing to him. He entered Thursday’s play rated the fifth-best framer when it comes to turning borderline pitches into strikes. He is also throwing baserunners out.
Instead of hysteria about Alvarez may be sent down back to Triple-A Syracuse once Omar Narvaez comes back from the injured list, we can talk about the Mets rookie catcher being a favorite to win the National League Rookie of the Year.
Baty homered four times and drove in 15 runs along with having nine extra-base hits and a .311 OBP. He smashes the ball to all fields rather than just hitting for the fences. He makes adjustments at the plate and fouls off pitches often He has been productive enough that he usurped Eduardo Escobar as the starter at third base, not to mention he’s been in the middle of the lineup.
Baty was called up last year and was known for hitting a home run as his first career hit in his first at-bat against the Atlanta Braves. It was his only highlight of last season, as he was out for the rest of the regular season after undergoing thumb surgery.
Showalter wasn’t worried about Baty’s hitting. He was more concerned about how Baty would play third base, the most important position to play in baseball when it comes to preventing extra-base hits and making plays to get the runner out at first. The Mets third baseman has been decent with his fielding.
It’s hard to judge Vientos since the Mets manager hasn’t played him consistently. For some odd reason, he has an affinity for Daniel Vogelbach, who is playing like the worst player in baseball by striking out or being an automatic out.
When Vientos gets an opportunity to play when lefties are on the mound, he is 5-for-26 with a home run and four RBI. He does hit the ball hard. He has played a role in the Mets’ wins, including the one on Thursday.
Look for him to start playing more as the season continues. Showalter likes to bring young players along slowly, so that there isn’t much pressure on them to produce right away, especially in New York.
This young trio has eased the pressure on the veterans, who are starting to find their way at the plate. Escobar is starting to hit. Mark Canha hit two home runs and drove in six runs against the Phillies in the last two games after struggling for most of the season. Francisco Lindor has been hitting well, including a home run in the fourth inning resulting in a Mets’ 2-0 victory, and Pete Alonso is on a binge of home runs.
If the Mets have plans to advance in the postseason, the Baby Mets will be so crucial. They diversify the offense by getting on base and delivering much-needed hits, rather than solely relying on home runs.
They appear to be up for the challenge, as evidenced by how they jumpstarted the Mets after 57 games.
You can read Leslie's Jersey Sporting News columns on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
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