Mets send top prospects Brett Baty and Mark Vientos down to Triple-A, but ‘they’re a phone call away’
PORT ST. LUCIE — The Mets came into camp with a lineup full of veterans and top prospects trying to take away a few of their jobs. Brett Baty and Mark Vientos made some excellent cases for inclusion on the Opening Day roster, but they were optioned to Triple-A on Saturday night, following the Mets’ penultimate Grapefruit League game of the spring.
The decision to send the two corner infield prospects to the minor leagues to begin the 2023 season came down to experience. Although they made great strides during spring training, ultimately, the Mets decided that it would be best to give them more experience with Triple-A Syracuse. The Mets want to see how they handle certain situations and while they’ve both improved defensively, they want the duo to continue to refine that defense. The need to play every day in order to continue to improve.
“They’re a phone call away should something come up,” Mets general manager Billy Eppler said. “They don’t need something to happen at the major league level. They have the type of talent where they can push their way up here. There’s still some development objectives to reach.”
Manager Buck Showalter echoed this sentiment.
“I think master is too strong of a word, but the level behind you — it should not be unknown if you can handle that one before you come to this one,” he said.
The Mets looked at the development path of players like Nolan Arenado and Rafael Devers and saw that similar players had logged considerably more games at Triple-A before becoming regulars in the big leagues. Baty has played in nearly twice as many major league games (11) than Triple-A games (six) and the Mets have benchmarks they want to see him reach.
“Continuing to get tested in different game situations, learning his speed and when to give ground and when to take ground,” Eppler said. “And being put in different types of circumstances and different types of situations.”
Vientos has played in 101 games with Syracuse but mostly at third base. With the Mets wanting Baty at third, Vientos was moved to first base this spring and he’ll continue to play there when the Triple-A season starts. The 23-year-old infielder hit .278 with a .791 OPS with five doubles and two home runs in Grapefruit League play this spring.
Baty, 23, hit .325 with a .885 OPS and one home run.
The Mets told Baty and Vientos in individual meetings with Showalter and infield coordinator Joey Cora. Before learning the news, Vientos said he was proud of what he showed this spring, but still eager to improve.
“I’m happy, but not satisfied yet,” Vientos told the Daily News before the Mets tied the St. Louis Cardinals 4-4 at Clover Park. “I’ve got to keep doing my thing and getting better every day. I try to stay focused on the present moment. I’m not really focused on any things in the future or the past.”
Eppler has maintained all spring that his priority with the roster is about getting to the playoffs. The roster on the first day of the season won’t be the same on the last day, but for now, he thinks Baty and Vientos will be better served in Triple-A.
Tylor Megill was named the Mets’ Opening Day starter last season. This season, he might be the Syracuse Mets’ Opening Day starter.
The right-hander struggled with his command in his final Grapefruit League start. Two days ago he decided to experiment with his slider in order to throw it harder. The results weren’t great: Megill allowed three earned runs on two hits over five innings, walked five batters and walked in a run at one point.
“It sucks, just because I’m competing and I’m learning new stuff,” Megill said. “I’m trying to work it out during games and the competitiveness of it all gets frustrating.”
The Mets added to their starting pitching depth in Syracuse earlier in the day, signing right-hander Dylan Bundy to a minor league contract. A former top prospect, Bundy played for Showalter in Baltimore but never lived up to the hype. The 30-year-old right-hander is probably best known for vomiting on the Yankee Stadium mound as a member of the Los Angeles Angels.
Last season, he went 8-8 with a 4.89 ERA in 29 starts for the Minnesota Twins. His velocity has gone from the mid-90s to the high-80s, and he’s not quite sure how hard he’s throwing right now but he’s hoping to get back into the mid-90s in order to look more like the pitcher he was in 2020 when he went 6-6 with a 3.29 ERA and finished ninth in AL Cy Young voting with the Angels.
LINING THEM UP
The Mets have almost set their starting rotation for the first two series of the season, with the final decision on David Peterson and Tylor Megill to come in the next day or two: Max Scherzer, Peterson or Megill, Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, Carlos Carrasco.