The Mets had hoped this season would all be about the present. But when the club’s focus shifted to the future, it became clear there are plenty of reasons for optimism now from the sustained success of catcher Francisco Alvarez to the end-of-season preview of Ronny Mauricio.
For manager Buck Showalter – a veteran of more than 3,300 baseball games over the course of his 22 big league seasons as a manager – overseeing the development of the “Baby Mets” of Alvarez, Mauricio, Brett Baty and Mark Vientos has a touch of a parental feel.
“[It’s] almost like your children” because “you hate to see them struggle but it’s part of the process to understand that [and] how you respond to it and working your way through it,” the skipper said prior to Thursday night’s loss in Philadelphia.
“And they’ve never given in and not really gotten intimidated by the level, but they’ve been very respectful of it,” the manager said. “There’s a fine line there.”
In the defeat, there were positives for the youngsters in the form of Vientos’ eighth home run of the season and Baty and Alvarez driving in runs, but, “Some good things there but you’d always like to win a baseball game.”
Alvarez has cooled off a bit at the plate in the last few weeks as the catcher is likely to end up playing around 105 games, which the manager said is “right about where we wanna take him at the most.”
“He’s going through some periods, where it’s the first time he’s played in September and he’s showing some of the signs of catching some extra games later in the season, and he’s handled it well,” Showalter said.
And in general, that’s the case for most young players.
“The curve is these guys usually start out and there’s a real positive feeding frenzy on them and they do well and then things die down a little and they hit a little spell,” the manager said Thursday. “And I’m hoping guys like Vientos and Brett and Francisco and all these guys and Mo finish strong. Mo hadn’t quite hit that spot yet. … It wouldn’t surprise me to see Brett and these guys really finish strong.”
Finishing strong is something Vientos appears to have his sights set on after hitting his third homer in the last two games Thursday and extending a hitting streak to six games.
“He’s strong,” Showalter said of Vientos’ latest round-tripper. “Everybody talks about the metrics of people hitting baseballs and everything, it’s part of it. And also about the finished product. I know Mark, he wants to do that every time up. It’s a learning process you can see why he has done some of the things behind him in the minor leagues that makes people think that he could do some good things for us.”
Vientos has been getting more consistent chances and growing a bit more comfortable with the big leagues. Showalter said playing in the Majors is “just like at any level, just kinda settling in a little bit.”
“I’m not gonna say being more selective, he’s still chasing some stuff, but… very similar at-bats, we’ve always known that he can impact the ball, and he did [Wednesday night] twice,” he said in Miami.
The skipper isn’t the only one to notice this.
“He looks really good right now,” Baty said of Vientos after his two-homer game Wednesday. “He’s taking pitches that he was swinging at and now he’s not missing the mistakes in the zone. And he’s smashing baseballs right now and I love to see it.”
After Baty smoked a home run that same night, Showalter said he believed the third baseman “needed it” as he ended a run of 92 at-bats without a dinger.
“It’s been tough on him sitting over there and watching his friends and teammates play and he wants to play and we tried to be cautious with it,” he said.
Showalter said he was talking before the game about how he’d like to see Baty “finish up real strong” and he hopes this is “the start of it.”
When asked on Thursday if the Mets want to see Baty lift the ball more, Showalter sardonically responded that if it lands where it did in Miami – 440 feet away in the second deck at Marlins Park – then yes, but if he’s popping it up no.
“I just want him to be making progress and however it may fall,” he said. “I can sit here and analyze with the best of ‘em – top spin balls to the left side, and back-spinning balls and this, then, that and should you be pull, all that different things – you just want them to seek their level and not make it too complicated for them. He knows. And hopefully, he can finish strong.”
Source: Yahoo Sports