ATLANTA — The New York Mets called up top prospect Brett Baty on Wednesday to replace an ailing Eduardo Escobar at third base, putting the 22-year-old in the middle of a spirited run for the NL East title.
It had an immediate impact.
Baty, hitting eighth and playing third base in his major league debut against the Braves in Atlanta, hit a home run on his first at bat, a two-run shot in the second inning that gave the Take a 4-0 lead.
Baty, who is from Round Rock, Texas, said before the game that his mom, dad, sister and several other relatives flew to Atlanta for his major 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 the first since Mike Jacobs in 2005.
Ranked baseball’s 37th-best prospect by ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, Baty was called up to the majors just a week after being promoted to Triple-A Syracuse.
“It wasn’t on my mind at all,” Baty said ahead of the call-up game. “I was just thinking about winning football games for Syracuse. But now that I’m here, it’s about winning football games for the New York Mets.”
Escobar was dropped from the lineup for Tuesday’s game after working the field before batting practice. Manager Buck Showalter said Escobar’s left oblique injury had worsened and he didn’t want to risk a long-term problem. Escobar went on the IL, retroactive to Tuesday, paving the way for Baty to join the club.
The No. 12 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Baty was hitting a combined .315 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs for Double-A Binghamton and Syracuse.
His attacking numbers — especially his power — have improved greatly this season in his first two years as a minor.
“I don’t expect anything,” Baty said. “I’m just going to go out there and play to the best of my abilities. I’m here for a reason. I’m going to show it and do my best.”
Showalter had the chance to work with Baty during spring training. He challenged the youngster a few times, eager to see how he would react to what the manager coyly called ‘constructive criticism’.
Baty passed this test.
“I trust the way I play baseball and I trust myself on the field,” the rookie said. “They were attacking me, but I was somehow responding.”
Central defender Brandon Nimmo dismissed Baty after the team arrived at Truist Park. He knows the highly touted player will come under scrutiny as he joins a top-place side that have been trying to claim their Premier League title since 2015.
“Nimmo just pulled me aside and he was like, ‘Hey, man, slow down. It’s going to be quite a big atmosphere, that’s for sure. But we all trust you. We have 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 when he left on Tuesday due to back spasms.
Walker may not be able to make his next scheduled start Sunday in Philadelphia, but it doesn’t look like he’ll 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 went two innings on Monday before coming away with a strained left oblique. He has been placed on IL and is expected to be missing for up to a month.
“Pretty good news, all things considered,” Showalter said of Walker. “His departure on Sunday is in jeopardy, but we’re still hopeful he’ll be fine before then. We have different ideas” about who might step in if Walker can’t go.
The Mets designated reliever RJ Alvarez for assignment after giving up three runs in 2 1/3 innings in a 5-0 defeat at the Braves on Tuesday — his first major league appearance since 2015. Lefty Sam Clay was called up from Syracuse.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.