With their fourth selection in the 2021 draft, the Mets selected JT Schwartz, a first baseman from UCLA.
JT (Jason Thomas) Schwartz was a four-year letter winner in baseball and two-year letter winner in basketball at Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach, California. He was named to various honorary teams during his time there, and thanks to his cumulative .326/.455/.573 batting line over the court of his time there, Schwartz was considered one of the better prep players available in the 2018 MLB Draft from the state of California. In the end, despite hitting .459/.520/.729 in his junior year and .326/.458/.697 with 11 combined home runs, he went undrafted, owing to his extremely strong commitment to the University of California, Los Angeles.
Schwartz redshirted in his first year at UCLA, unable to crack the Bruins roster, but made up for that by playing in the West Coast League prior to his freshman year and in the Northwoods League after it. He began getting playing time for the Bruins in earnest in his redshirt freshman year, but his redshirt freshman year happened to be 2020 and the season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. Still, he started all 15 games for UCLA at first base, hitting .328/.380/.391. When he returned to the Bruins in 2021, not only did he play in 44 of their 57 games, missing some time due to a shoulder injury, but he experienced something of a breakout campaign, hitting .396/.514/.628 with 8 home runs. He led the team in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, and his batting average led the Pac-12– the first time UCLA had a batting champion since 2001.
The 6’4”, 215-pound Schwartz looks like a slugger but his in-game strategy is more oriented towards making contact and hitting for average. He shows good batting practice power- and could continue adding more if his thin frame fills out more- but his in-game power has not followed suit thus far in his career.
Schwartz stands tall at the plate with a slightly open stance, leaning the barrel of the bat on his shoulder. He removes it and crouches slightly as he goes into his load and generates some power from the torque his upper body creates and swings with a slight uppercut. His left-handed stroke is direct to the ball with his hand path, making an elite amount of contact with pitches in the zone. He has a good eye and does not chase pitches, walking exactly 41 times to 41 strikeouts during his time at UCLA, though sometimes gets jumps when behind in the count. The majority of his power is to his pull side, where he sprays line drives and the occasional homer.
Schwartz only started playing first base in college, but he is limited to the position due to hip and knee problems that he has experienced in the past. He generally is comfortable at the position and will make all of the routine plays and occasionally more, but he shows below-average mobility and his footwork around the bag and ability to pick the ball are still developing and need work.