Unsurprisingly, Mike Baxter, who is a Queens-native, re-inked with the New York Mets on a Minor League Contract. The 27 year-old outfielder owned a .235/.350/.441 line in 40 PA’s in the bigs, but also won the hearts of fans with a few timely hits, enthusiasm, and of course, his native status.
Baxter was originally drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 4th round of the 2005 draft, but didn’t really hit his groove until 2009. Split between Double and Triple-A, Baxter swatted a mean .317/.394/.469 line with 9 HR, 79 RBI, 76 R, and 14 SB in 574 PA’s. The following season, in 2010, the left-handed hitter dominated pitchers in his first full-season in Triple-A, to the tune of a .301/.382/.517 line with 18 HR, 72 RBI, 89 R, and 22 SB in 552 PAs. Unfortunately, the outfielder tore a ligament in his left thumb right in early-March, which seriously hindered his 2011 season. The 26 year-old rehabbed for most of the season in Single-A, before being placed on waivers in late-July.
Hoping Baxter would become healthy, the Mets plucked him from the Padres, and assigned him to Triple-A. The outfielder didn’t do much in Buffalo, hitting a .188/.257/.297 line in 71 PA’s, but he surprisingly got the call in early-August. Unlike his dismal Triple-A showing, the 26 year-old posted a decent .235/.350/.441 line with 1 HR, 4 RBI, and 6 R in 40 PA’s for New York, while playing an extremely solid (albeit, a very small sample size) right (13.8 UZR/150 in 68 innings) and left (56.8 UZR/150 in 5 innings) field.
Even with his Minor League contract, there is still a chance Baxter could make the 25-man roster. Jason Bay, Andres Torres, and Lucas Duda are set to start in the outfield, but the team currently lacks a capable fourth outfielder. In all likelihood, Mike Baxter can and will be that guy.