Generally speaking, Eppler said he views Triple A as a "very important stepping stone for a player." The way Eppler sees it, Double A commonly features high-end traits like big velocity. It tests players' physical tools. Triple A features more experienced players, like pitchers messing with timing by throwing 2-0 changeups. It tests the mental side."I love (players) to be able to ace both of those tests before rolling them out in our situation with the kind of club that we expect to have," Eppler said.While Álvarez played in 45 games for Triple-A Syracuse — he had an .825 OPS in 199 plate appearances before the Mets promoted him ahead of their final road series of the regular season — Baty appeared in just six games. Baty went 8 for 22 (.364 batting average) with Syracuse, and the Mets called him up in mid-August while they were dealing with injuries to their infield.
Strictly speaking, although Brett Baty enjoyed success in that brief stay in Salt City, a 6-game stay does not constitute "acing" the test. If Baty does start the year in Triple-A, there is no doubt that Billy Eppler could justify the decision. Also, I've been around long enough not to believe that Baty's excellent spring line of .400/.500/.533 guarantees anything once the games begin in earnest on March 30. But there's no doubt that he's looked comfortable this spring taking ABs against Major League pitching. I really wonder if spending some more time in Syracuse would benefit Baty's offensive game. If it doesn't, what's the point?
Yes, Brett's defense at third base can definitely use all of the work he's willing to put in. But that work can just as effectively take place at the Major League level with Major League coaching. Baty has shown that he's willing to do that work. Buck Showalter can sit Baty down and tell him that he can be the Mets' third baseman out of camp. One caveat — he'll be expected to put in extra time working on his defense, especially early in the season. I don't think the kid will have a problem with that. And, while I love Eduardo Escobar and what he brings to the Mets, he's not a good defensive third baseman. Baty is unlikely to be a huge step down from Escobar in that department.
Baseball's minor leagues are important. I believe Eppler's philosophy of having kids ace the tests of both Double-A and Triple-A is sound. But I also believe that keeping a kid in the minors longer than you need to is just a waste of a piece of a relatively short career. If the Mets really are committed to a vision of sustainability, getting kids integrated into the Majors is crucial. I'm really curious to see how they handle Brett Baty this spring.