Cubs Fall League Recap: Javier Baez goes yard (VIDEO)

Cubs Fall League Recap: Javier Baez goes yard (VIDEO)

For as much fun as I've had in Arizona, I have to admit I would have been disappointed if I didn't see one thing before I left: A Javier Baez bomb.

Well, on my last game here for the year, Baez came through, launching a monster blast deep into LF. It easily cleared the wall between the 340 and 390 ft signs and fell just short of clearing the second fence that marks the back end of the berm, just left of the scoreboard.

(By the way, that's me going "woohoohoo!" in the background)

It was his only hit of the game, but the three run shot will be more than enough to send me home
happy.

Baez did hit the ball well all day despite going just 1-4. He also flied out deep to RF and hit a foul ball so hard that it nearly decapitated the 3B coach than crashed with a resounding thud against the seats down the LF line.

He also looked good in the field, though he did throw the ball away on his first chance. In Baez's defense, it was a tough play. He had to charge in and to his right then throw off balance and across his body. Unfortunately, the ball sailed over the 6'4" Aaron Westlake's head at first.  Because of the difficulty of the play and also because the runner didn't advance, Baez was not charged with an error.

Baez did make all the routine plays and saved his best play for last. It was a bouncer between SS and 3B that got past the third baseman Jiovanni Mier. Baez fielded it deep in the hole and fired a rocket to easily beat the runner at first.

While it's become conventional wisdom that it will be Baez who changes positions when he gets to the majors, I'm not so sure yet. While Starlin Castro is more fluid and can match ( and maybe beat) him play for play, I really like Baez's instincts and heads up play at what is perhaps the most important defensive position on the field. I'm intrigued not only by Baez's physical gifts at SS, but also by his leadership potential there. It's easy to picture him being the captain of that infield. Jason McLeod's observations the other day back up that sentiment,

”When you watch him play defense and watch him on the bases, he plays like a veteran who has been in the Major Leagues for a long time and at a very young age. That was the most pleasant surprise for me, and it’s really fun to watch him on defense. It’s like he sees things before it happens.” 

It's nice to have two good all-around SS who can hit well enough to move to another position.  This is more the type of problem we hope to see in the Theo Epstein era.

Other Fall League Notes:

  • I've been pleasantly surprised with Rubi Silva, particularly with his better-than-expected bat speed, athleticism, and defense.  He was more of an afterthought for me when I came to see the games here, but I came away thinking that this guy can fill a role off the bench in the big leagues.
  • Matt Szczur has been working on his swing and it looked to me like his hands looked a little quicker on his first single on Friday.  Though it was just a single, the ball really jumped off his bat better than I had seen in any other at bat.
  • I missed Tony Zych's scoreless inning on Saturday. I had plans to see "Seven Psycopaths" early that evening so we left an inning early.  I do know he threw 96 in his first outing and got two of his outs via his slider -- which is something I was hoping to see.  Hopefully that was the case again yesterday.  By the way, I'd recommend "Seven Psychopaths" if you are into irony and dark humor-- but you also might enjoy it simply if you like Christopher Walken.  I enjoyed it for all of those reasons.
  • I'll have a new post with some pictures of both the Arizona Fall League and instructs.  I'm not really a photog, nor do I have a great camera, but I hope it conveys the gist of the experience.

Filed under: Fall/Winter Baseball

Comments

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  • Baez excites me. I wouldn't put it past him to be on a faster MLB track than late 2014. Next summer, I'll be at Geneva a lot with a new camera. That will be my focus. Taking pics of that old Boise team. I'll keep you well stocked if you want.

  • In reply to Moonlight:

    Thanks Moonlight! That woukd be great!

  • You wife did a great job with that video. Thanks to her and you posting it.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Thanks Toby! I'm glad she didn't try to track the flight of the ball. Makes it too jumpy.

  • One other thing - Who have you seen so far that's impressed you that wasn't on your radar earlier, and why?

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I'll probably go into more detail in a future article but I like Silva for reasons stated in article. I like the way Rhoderick has been throwing strikes. I like Contreras quickness behind the plate.

  • I think Baez makes sense at short. And with them working on Castro's power production, that could increase his value at third. But like you said, if Baez keeps growing (and hitting moonshots), he'd be a nice fit there too. Don't know which way it's going to pan out, but nice problem to have. P.S. woohoohoo!

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Ha! I think it works either way but no doubt Baez growing bigger would make decision easy for them.

  • I grew up following Dunston, Grace, Wood, etc develop through
    the farm system. It's going to be nice to see this next group of
    top prospects do the same. Just keep us up-to-date on their
    progress. Thanks.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Will do!

  • From watching the yankees post season games, it seems they have a huge need for a right handed power hitter. Their lineup has way too many lefties. I think they will go after Soriano in the offseason, it makes plenty of sense for them. Maybe we can pick David Phelps and lower level prospect for him.

  • In reply to Panama Cub:

    I'm not sure what we can get for Soriano, but Phelps seems like a lot. I'd be ecstatic if they could pull that off.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed. Salary relief plus a lower level "prospect" or two would do it.

  • In case anyone's interested in what other Cubs are or will be playing in an offseason league, here's a link:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/milb/stats/org.jsp?id=chc

  • John,

    What is Silva's best fielding position?

  • In reply to WillieG1:

    Just landed back in Chicago!

    I'd say RF but he also plays well in CF and LF, and can play 2B in a pinch.

  • Thanks for the az updates sounds like a great time and nice to see a Baez Blast too! I think you are right on the mark with Baez playing short. No need to make any changes that slow his development, let's get him to the Bigs first. I also agree that it may be best for Castro to shift to third, or maybe be considered for a trade, if Baez does stay at short. Castro has had a lot of success early, and his indifferent fielding and less than inspired play at times maybe because he hasn't been pushed by competiton for his position in a long time, since he's been the rising star. Baez may help get Castro to focus, and may be having to play well to keep his ss position is just what Castro needs to launch his play higher. It can't hurt, other wise, Castro could play third and get away with some indifferent play there and erratic play like Aramis did, maybe a few hot smashes at the hot corner will focus his attention if the possible arrival at short of Baez doesn't. Either way both players should benefit the cubs in coming years, and this team of Cubs managers seem likely to get the most out of them both.

  • In reply to eddie35:

    I like Baez's leadership and instincts at SS, but I wouldn't say that Castro is indifferent there. He's pretty good too and we don't see it on camera and we don't hear it from Brenly, but he's made his share of heads up/hustle plays too. Whichever way the Cubs go, they'll be in good shape at SS and 3B for years to come.

  • I'm glad you were able to see Baez hit one out John. If Baez does stay at short, the Cubs would have quite the power duo up the middle.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    That would be amazing, since I'm assuming you mean Castro moves to 2B. That would be our version of Trammel/Whitaker.

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    When Baez is up do you see him working into hitters counts? Or is he just hacking? Really want him to take some walks.

  • In reply to Chris Lattier:

    He was hacking a bit on Thursday, but he worked the count better on Saturday. In fact, the pitch he hit the bomb on was a 3-0 pitch. I hope he liked the idea of being up 3-0 because it allowed him to look dead red and take his big rip -- and man, when he connects, you can hear it.

  • Walken? In a movie with dark humor? Say it ain't so.

  • In reply to tim815:

    Strange, but true.

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    If the O's can move Machado over to 3rd and he seemed to have no problem over there w the dozen or so games I have watched. I would have to say Javier Baez is going to have to move to 3rd as he's probably as big as Machado right now (and Machado is not small). Baez is going to keep growing and working out. Personally I thought Castro would grow as well, but he may just have a slender long build and will be more set to stay as SS for a long time. Least when Baez comes, we will have a true back up for Starlin.

    Javier Baez reminds me a little of that 19 yr old Miguel Cabrera we saw in 2003 w the Marlins. Just a grown man well above his time.

    If he has any similar success as Miggy, the Cubs are going to be set for a loooong long time.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    That's the key is that Baez should still get bigger. He doesn't look to me as big as Machado right now, but he's not built slender at 19 the way Castro was -- so definitely closer to Machado, especially if he continues to grow as expected. That will make that decision easy for the Cubs.

    Even in the Fall League, where everyone is a prospect, nobody draws the excitement that Baez does when he comes to the plate.

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