PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Brett Baty may well be the Mets’ third baseman of the future, but he has competition — including, for part of last year, on his own team.
In Baty and Mark Vientos, the Mets have a pair of third basemen among their top handful of prospects, a situation similar to the Pete Alonso/Dominic Smith dynamic at first base in recent years. When Baty and Vientos overlapped at Double-A Binghamton in 2021, they took turns dabbling with leftfield. Vientos also saw time at first base.
Eventually, one will have to change positions — or organizations — but the Mets don’t need to figure that out quite yet. Vientos reached Triple-A Syracuse last season, so he appears to be a tad ahead of Baty timeline-wise.
"We’re great friends on and off the field," Baty said Sunday. "The competition is there for sure, but we push each other in a really good way and get each other better."
Baty, 22, is one month older than Vientos but was drafted two years later. Vientos is on the 40-man roster and therefore isn’t allowed to attend the Mets’ minor-league minicamp during MLB’s lockout.
They aren’t the same kind of player. Vientos, rated by Baseball America as the best power hitter in the Mets’ farm system, walloped 25 homers as a 21-year-old last season. Baty is listed as the top defensive infielder (and is no slouch at the plate, either). Baty is generally considered the better overall prospect, and he represented the Mets at the Futures Game and in the Arizona Fall League last year.
Coming off his first full professional season, Baty said one of his priorities is improving his side-to-side movement at third base.
"It’s definitely been a big concern — not really a big concern, but we put emphasis on it, moving laterally, because third base is such a quick position over there," said Baty, who noted that he doesn’t know what positional plans the Mets have for him in 2022. "So you gotta be ready for everything."
Vientos and Baty are part of a wave of position-player prospects who — after years of hype — are reaching, or already in, the upper minors. Also in that group are catcher Francisco Alvarez and shortstop Ronny Mauricio.
"We got a great group of young talent here," Baty said. "It’s just awesome to have that core unit right there. We’ll see what happens."
Jaylen Palmer is a local kid. Now he is trying to make good.
A native of Canarsie, Brooklyn, and a graduate of Holy Cross High School in Flushing, Queens, the 21-year-old aspires to get to Citi Field — for the second time. His only trip there so far came in June 2018, the day before the Mets drafted him in the 22nd round, when he attended a game as a fan with friends.
"It was an honor for a New York team to actually believe in me, someone who is local like that," said Palmer, who characterized himself as "a New York fan" who rooted for the Mets and Yankees when he was growing up. "For them to give me this opportunity, it’s an honor."
Palmer is a man of many gloves. Drafted as a shortstop, he played second, third, left, center and right while spending last year at both Class A levels.
"The outfield is growing on me, I’m not going to lie," he said. "But any way I can get my at-bats. That’s all I care about."
The new kid
Alex Ramirez is a potential five-tool star, but the operative word is potential. For now, he is a 6-5 string bean of a powerful centerfielder who has played most of one season at Low-A St. Lucie.
At 19, Ramirez — who received a $2.05 million signing bonus from the Mets three years ago — has about as high a ceiling as any minor-leaguer in the organization. He tries not to think about it.
"It’s nice to be seen that way, because I’ve only really played one year of professional baseball," Ramirez said through an interpreter. "But at the same time, I have to stay focused and continue working on all aspects of my game so eventually I can be able to make it to the major leagues."
New role for ex-coach
Brian Schneider, who spent the past two seasons on the major-league coaching staff, survived the purge and wound up in a new role with the Mets.
As their complex coordinator, based out of the Clover Park facility, he will help run the goings-on there, from minor-league camp to extended spring training to the Florida Complex League Mets’ season to instructional league. He also will do some coaching of the organization’s catchers.
This gig allows Schneider, who played for the Mets in 2008-09 during his 13-year career in the majors, to stay at home with his family in nearby Palm Beach County.