No one would blame New York Mets third baseman Eduardo Escobar if he’s hearing the footsteps of Brett Baty behind him.
The limited sample size that has been the first four games of the 2023 season has not reflected kindly on the veteran switch-hitter, who entered Monday’s series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers going 1-for-16 (.063) with seven strikeouts.
These are an imperative few weeks for Escobar, who struggled to stabilize during his first year in Queens last season but did enough to suggest that he was finding his way with a monster September in which he posted a 1.042 OPS with eight home runs and 24 RBI.
Yet in the spring, after the negotiations to acquire Carlos Correa in free agency to put him at third fell through, Escobar struggled at the World Baseball Classic with Venezuela (1-for-10) while Baty wowed the Mets by batting .325 with an .885 OPS across 23 spring-training games that also featured improved defense at the hot corner.
But general manager Billy Eppler — who has shown a theme of wanting to overcook his top prospects in the minors to ensure they are seasoned and well-rounded enough to make an immediate impact in the big leagues — preached Triple-A experience as Baty’s next move. Though he added that he and the likes of Mark Vientos are just “a phone call away,” if needed.
In the early goings, at least, it looks like the Mets could use Baty.
The 23-year-old started his Triple-A season by going 5-for-14 (.357) with two home runs and five RBI while continuing to flash improved defense that was believed to be his biggest weakness. During Syracuse’s game on Sunday, he made a leaping snag on a line drive with the bases loaded to turn an unassisted double play to get out of the bottom of the sixth.
Bases loaded, one out.
Brett Baty to the rescue for the @SyracuseMets!
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 2, 2023
Again, a handful of games isn’t going to be enough to prompt a call-up to shake up the Mets’ roster, which would likely see Escobar used as a DH option, utility infielder, and pinch-hitter in the final year of his contract to make room for Baty at third. But if the current script continues to write itself as is, the Mets will have no choice but to give their No. 2 prospect the call to help round out the bottom of a lineup that could use some extra juice.